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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


Becker, D. R., McClelland, M. M., Geldhof, J. G., MacDonald, M., & Gunter, K. (in press). Open-Skilled sport, sport intensity, executive function, and academic achievement in grade school children. Early Education & Development.

Becker, D. R., Grist, C., Caudle, L., & Watson, M. (in press). Complex physical activity, outdoor play, and school readiness among preschoolers. Global Education Review.

Lipscomb, S., Becker, D. R., Laurent, H., Jenae, N. M., Shaw, D. S., Natsuaki, N. M., Reiss, D., Fisher, P. A., Leve, L. D. (in press) 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.

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, 1-12.

*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.1751228X.2011.01130.x

Grant Support

Becker, D. R., Abi Nader, P. (2017-2018). Movement, play, and academic achievement throughout the prekindergarten year. Provost Office, Western Carolina University.
PI Becker. ($12,580.00).

Becker, D. R., (2016-2017). Moving towards early academic success and life long
learning. The College of Education and Allied Professions, Western Carolina University. PI Becker. ($2,000.00).

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