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College of Education and Allied Professions

Dr. Derek Becker

Dr. Derek Becker


Assistant Professor
Birth-Kindergarten program
Department of Human Services

Phone: 828.227.2196
Office Address: Killian 216


Dr. Derek Becker is an Assistant Professor in the Birth-Kindergarten Program. His research focuses on connections among play, physical activity, and sport participation with executive function and early learning. He is currently examining connections among complex motor activity and active play with EF and math in a sample of 3 to 4-year-old children over the prekindergarten year. Prior to starting at WCU, Dr. Becker earned a master’s in Experimental Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino, and a Ph.D. in Human Development from Oregon State University.


2016 Ph.D., Human Development. Oregon State University
2009 M.A., Experimental Psychology. California State University, San Bernardino
2006 B.A., Psychology. California State University, San Bernardino


Cameron, C. E., Kim, H., Duncan, R. J., Becker, D. R., & McClelland, M. M. (2019). Bidirectional and co-developing associations of cognitive, mathematics, and literacy skills during kindergarten. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 135-144.
Becker, D. R., McClelland, M. M., Geldhof, G. J., Gunter, K. B., & MacDonald, M. (2018). Open-Skilled Sport, Sport Intensity, Executive Function, and Academic Achievement in Grade School Children. Early Education and Development, 1-17.
Becker, D. R., Grist, C. L., Caudle, L. A., & Watson, M. K. (2018). Complex Physical Activities, Outdoor Play, and School Readiness among Preschoolers. Global Education Review, 5(2), 110-122.
Lipscomb, S. T., Becker, D. R., Laurent, H., Neiderhiser, J. M., Shaw, D. S., Natsuaki, M. N., ... & Leve, L. D. (2018). Examining morning HPA axis activity as a moderator of hostile, over‐reactive parenting on children's skills for success in school. Infant and Child Development, e2083.
MacDonald, M., Lipscomb, S., McClelland, M. M., Duncan, R., Becker, D., Anderson, K., & Kile, M. (2016).
Relations of Preschoolers' Visual-Motor and Object Manipulation Skills With Executive Function and Social Behavior. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 87(4), 396-407. doi:10.1080/02701367.2016.1229862
Becker, D. R., McClelland, M. M., Loprinzi, P., & Trost, S. G. (2014). Physical activity, self-regulation, and early academic achievement in preschool children. Early Education & Development, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2013.780505
Becker, D. R., Miao, A., Duncan, R., & McClelland, M. M. (2014). Behavioral self-regulation and executive function both predict visuomotor skills and early academic achievement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 411-424. doi:
Becker, D. R., Carrère, S., Siler, C., Jones, S., Bowie, B., & Cooke, C. (2012). Autonomic regulation on the stroop predicts reading achievement in school age children. Mind, Brain, and Education, 6(1), 10-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2011.01130.x


Grist, C. (Principal), Becker, D. R. (Principal), Expanding Early Education in Cullowhee: Expanding Services for Eligible Student-Parents. U.S. Department of Education, Funded, $170,832.00. (September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2023).
Chandler, R. (Principal), Becker, D. R. (Principal), Stringer, A. (Co-Principal), Grist, C. (Co-Principal), High Intensity Interval Training and Cognitive Functioning in Prekindergarten Children. National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, Hellison Interdisciplinary Grant, Funded, $5,000.00. (March 1, 2019).
Becker, D. (Principal), Abi Nader, P. (Investigator), Movement, Play, and Academic Achievement Throughout the Prekindergarten Year. Provost Office, Western Carolina University, Funded, $12,580.00. (February 1, 2017).
Becker, D., Moving Towards Early Academic Success and Life Long Learning. College of Education and Allied Professions, Western Carolina University, Funded, $2,000.00. (October 1, 2016). [Peer-Reviewed]


Becker, D. R., & Abi Nader.(in review). Run Fast and Sit Still: Connections Among Aerobic Fitness, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Time with Executive Function During Pre- kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly
Becker, D. R. (in review). Connections Among Outdoor Play and Sports with Early Social Skills and School Readiness. Routledge Encyclopedia of Education.
Becker, D.R., (in revision). Problems with Inattention, Reading Comprehension, and Autonomic Regulation on the Stroop Task. Infant & Child Development.

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