Skip to main content

Dr. Nina Howe, PhD

Professor , Education

I am in the process of retiring and not taking on new graduate students.

Dr. Nina Howe, PhD
Office: S-FG 6131  
Faubourg Ste-Catherine Building,
1610 St. Catherine W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2008

I received a BA (Honours) in Psychology from York University, Toronto in 1974 and an MA in Psychology (Developmental) from the University of Western Ontario in 1977. My MA program included a specialization in early childhood education and I spent many hours working in the University Laboratory Nursery School under the supervision of Dr. Mary J. Wright. Following the MA I spent five long years living in Edmonton, Alberta. I worked as an Assistant Supervisor, Edmonton Northwest Day Care Center, which was a municipally funded day care center. I also completed a post-degree program in Elementary Education at the University of Alberta and after two years of teaching I received my professional certification as an elementary school teacher. During one year I was a counsellor in an elementary school and in the second year, I taught a special education class. Subsequently I attended the University of Waterloo and completed my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 1986. I have been a member of the Education Department, Concordia, ever since. In 1998, 2006, 2013, 2017 I was a visiting scholar at Lancaster University, England.


BA (honours) Psychology, York University
MA, Developmental Psychology with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education, University of Western Ontario
Post-degree program, Elementary Education, University of Alberta
PhD, Developmental Psychology, University of Waterloo

Research interests and current projects

Co-construction of meaning in the sibling relationship: Beginning with my dissertation, my research has been concerned with the longitudinal nature of the quality of sibling relations, the influence of the mother on the children's relationship and self-disclosure between siblings. Furthermore, I am interested in how siblings co-construct meaning in their relationship through play, caretaking, teaching, imitation and use of internal state language (i.e., references to emotional, mental states). Recently my work has focussed on young children's social knowledge and understanding of the sibling relationship, particularly within the pretend play context. Currently I am examining the relations between children pretense negotiations and conflict resolution, as well as the development of intersubjectivity and imitation in sibling play and associations with the quality of the relationship. Another project is investigating the associations between disclosure, intimacy, and the quality of children peer relationships in middle childhood. My current SSHRC-funded project is to examine sibling teaching from a social-constructivist framework.

Influence of the design of dramatic play centers on children's play: How the ecology of the early childhood classroom, specifically dramatic play centers, affects children's social and cognitive play. This project has both a theoretical and applied focus. Based on theory regarding the importance of pretend play in young children's development, I have conducted a series of studies to determine how to facilitate opportunities for dramatic play in the early childhood classroom. Several of my MA students have investigated other aspects of play, such as the relationship between solitary play and children thinking styles or the influence of different kinds of play materials (e.g., superhero or scripted toys) on children.

Child care: Specifically recent child care research and implications for Canadian public policy. The majority of recent research on child care emanates from the United States, however the Canadian context differs from the American in significant economic and philosophical ways. My work (with E. Jacobs) has pointed to the importance of considering these differences for the development of child care policy. Professor Jacobs and I conducted a pan-Canadian study of curriculum in child care settings funded through Human Resources Development Canada. Specifically we  looked at provincial regulations and guidelines for curriculum in child care settings and how curriculum is taught to future educators enrolled in community colleges. We also conducted an inservice intervention program focused on constructivist curriculum for child care workers in three provinces (Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec). Finally, I have co-edited two editions of a book (with L. Prochner) titled Early Childhood Care and Education in Canada, which includes historical developments, current trends, and future directions in Canadian early childhood education.

Courses taught

EDUC 211; Child Development
EDUCV 311: Child and the Family
EDUC 295/296: Seminar and Internship in ECE
EDUC 395: Kindergarten Internship
EDUC 493: Grade 1, 2, 3 Internship
CHST 600: Advanced Child Development
CHST 620: Play: From Theory to Practice
CHST 603: Child Studies Seminar
CHST 608: Field Observations 

Selected publications

Howe, N., Fiorentino, L., & Gariépy, N. (2003). Sibling conflict in middl e childhood: Influence of maternal context and mother-sibling interaction over four years. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 183-208.

Lloyd, B., & Howe, N. (2003). Solitary play and convergent and divergent thinking skills in preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 18, 22-41.

Howe, N., Rinaldi, C., Jennings, M., & Petrakos, H. (2002). “No! the lambs can stay out because they got cosies”: Constructive and destructive sibling conflict, pretend play, and social understanding. Child Development, 73, 1460-1473.

Prochner, L., & Howe, N. (Eds.) (2000). Early Childhood Care and Education in Canada. University of British Columbia Press

Howe, N., Aquan-Assee, J., Bukowski, W.M., Rinaldi, C., & Lehoux, P. (2000). Sibling self-disclosure in early adolescence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46, 653-671.

Howe, N., Petrakos, H., & Rinaldi, C. (1998). "All the sheeps are dead. He murdered them.": Sibling pretense, negotiation, internal state language, and relationship quality. Child Development, 69, 182-191.

Howe, N., & Jacobs, E. (1995). Child care research: A case for Canadian national standards. Canadian Psychology, 36, 131-148.

Howe, N., Moller, L., Chambers, B., & Petrakos, H. (1993). The ecology of dramatic play centers and children's social and cognitive play. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 8, 235-251.

Back to top

© Concordia University