Margaret Cowan Chair of Education and Associate Dean for Research
Organization: Vanderbilt University's Peabody College
Professor Dickinson is the Margaret Cowan Chair and Associate Dean for Research of Peabody College. He received his BA from Oberlin College and taught elementary school for ﬁve years while completing his MEd at Temple University. He became interested in the role of language in reading while teaching African-American children from working class homes and pursued that study at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
He has pursued three lines of inquiry: 1) examining the relationship between language and early reading; 2) studying language environments in classrooms and their impact on language use and learning; and 3) developing methods for supporting language learning of children from low-income homes. Dickinson has advocated for increasing the intellectual challenge of preschool classrooms with particular attention to the quality of support provided for language development. Currently he and colleagues are developing and testing methods of teaching vocabulary and building language using book reading, games and music in preschool classrooms.
He developed the ﬁrst widely delivered professional development intervention focusing on early literacy and contributed to development of research tools used to describe classroom support for language and literacy and children’s language and literacy development. He is co- author of Connecting through Talk: Nourishing Children’s Development with Language, and Beginning Literacy with Language, both published by Brookes Publishing. He has authored over 120 articles and chapters, co-edited three volumes of the Handbook of Early Literacy, and co- authored Opening the World of Learning, a widely used preschool curriculum.