Mary Ann Evans

Professor Emeritus
Clinical Psychology: Applied Developmental Emphasis

Accepting Graduate Students: 

Professor Emmerita

Research Areas: Emergent literacy, parent-child shared reading, reading acquisition, language and learning disabilities,shyness, communication, parent-child interaction.

ANTICIPATED and CONTINUING RESEARCH PROJECTS: Alphabetic learning from alphabet books, designing better alphabet books, development of narrative and explanatory skills in young children, parental coaching of reading during shared book reading, social-emotional aspects of learning disabilities.


C. Psych.: College of Psychologists of Ontario, 1981-2017

Ph.D.: University of Waterloo, 1980

M. A.: University of Waterloo, 1976

B.A. University of Toronto, 1972


Current and Former Graduate Students and Research Topics

Ph.D. Theses

  • David Willoughby (2018)  Narrative identity, self compassion, and acceptance of a learning disability
  • Kevin Noble  (2017) Self-descriptors of learning disability and thier associations
  • Sarah Nowak  (2015)  Children's preferences for and learning from alphabet books
  • Bronwen Davis  (2012)   Integrated emergent literacy as a predictor of reading
  • Diana Audet (2013)  Parental goals for shared reading and their behaviours
  • Gillian Stanley (2010) Cortisol and selective mutism
  • Kate Speer (2010) Narrative  and language skills in shy children
  • Jubilea Mansell (2008) Demographic and geographic comparisons of young children's home literacy environments
  • Shannon Edison (2008) Parental interactions with selectively mute children
  • Deborah Shaw (2007) Home literacy activities as parental support for children's literacy development
  • Andrea Spooner (2005) Hidden shyness: How children's shyness goes undetected
  • Shelley Moretti (2001) Parents as reading coaches: Parental style, scaffolding and children's reading achievement
  • Joanna Chung (1999) Siblings of children with cancer
  • Michelle Bell (1998) Shared book reading in kindergarten: Nature & outcomes

M.A. Theses

  • David Willoughby (2013 ) E-books and literacy development
  • Kevin Noble (2012 )  Self descriptions of having a learning disability: A semantic analysis 
  • Sarah Doherty  (2011 ) Parental evaluations of alphabet books
  • Kailey Reynolds (2010) Narrative & reading development
  • Bronwen Davis (2008) Errors in shared alphabet book reading
  • Diana Audet (2006) Cross sectional study of parental goals in shared book reading
  • Heather Allin (2005) Sensory reactivity in shy children
  • Carol Ann Hendry (2004) Parental use of mental state language in shared book reading
  • Kate Spere (2004) The origin of linguistic differences between shy and non-shy children
  • Simon Levy (2003) Coaching in the moment: Considerations in parental coaching behaviour during shared book reading
  • Karen Williamson (2003) Attention to print and pictures during shared book reading
  • Jubilea Mansell (2002) A longitudinal study of parental response to children's reading errors
  • Renata Bzydra (2001) Relationship between shyness and self-determination in middle childhood
  • Andrea Spooner (2001) Discrepancies between self and other' perceptions of children's shyness
  • Charlene Barnie (2001) Parent and teacher estimates of children's reading ability
  • Maureen Fox (1998) Parents ideas about literacy and their attributions for children's reading difficulties.
  • Deborah Shaw (1997) Parent-child literacy activities as predictors of kindergarten achievement
  • Heather Henderson (1996) Socialization of emotional regulation
  • Shelley Warnke (1996) Parenting styles and childhood shyness
  • Joanna Chung (1994) Shyness & health complaints in young children
  • Michelle Bell (1993) Whole language: Teacher beliefs and approaches to reading instruction
  • Susanne Kirchmann (‘92) Maternal sensitivity to vocabulary development in language-impaired and non-impaired preschoolers.
  • Nancy Freeman (1991) In search of meaning: Adults' perception of "signals" emitted by a child with autism.
  • Anne Chaffee (1990) Childhood sexual abuse: Experiences of disclosure.
  • Mandy Gobatto (1988) Nonlinguistic symbolic representation & communication ability in school-aged children.
  • Richard Hauer (1988) Conversational turn-taking and response latencies of reticent kindergarten children.
  • Catherine Vriniotis (1987) The development of social communicative competence and relation to classroom participation.
  • Carrie Gleason-Kennedy (‘87) Characteristics of grade six & seven early French Immersion, transfer & regular program students
  • Fred Schmidt (1986) Mother-child interactions of normal & language delayed children.
  • Helen Bienert (1985) The effects of teacher conversational style on the verbal behaviour of shy children.
  • Caroline Koekkoek (1984) Parent & teacher interaction with language delayed children.
  • Dianna Sutherland (1984) Semantic knowledge & the development of metaphor comprehension

B.A. Theses           

  • Brook Koblinsky (2016) Home literacy environment in kindergarten and parent values
  • Olympia Fragiadakis  (2014)  Shyness, eye colour and sensitivity to light
  • Brittany Burek (2014) Pre-schooler engagement in repeated book reading
  • Shanna Deasley (2013) Sex differences in emergent literacy and reading behaviour
  • Alex Neville  (2012) Sensory sensitivity and shyness from preschool to university
  • Elizabeth Sulima  (2012) The nature of ABC e-books
  • Amanda Ritsma (2011)  Preschool children’s interactions with literacy software
  • Tara Sehovic   (2011)  A comparison of game explanations in shy and non-shy children
  • Jocelyn Fedezcko (2010) Concurrent predictors of narrative skill in language-impaired children
  • Samuel Cassady  (2008)  Relationships between social anxiety and perfectionism in children
  • Melissa Brazil  (2007) Development of alphabet printing
  • Kailey Reynolds (2007) Maternal scaffolding of narratives in shy children
  • Tiffany Pursoo  (2005)  Parent child discourse in picture book reading interactions with shy & non-shy children                
  • Marissa Cugini  (2005)   Parent goals for shared storybook reading and relationship to their behaviour
  • Noemi Salamon (2003)   Maternal coaching of phonemic awareness with an ABC book
  • Liz Robson  (2001) Demographic variables and entering literacy skill
  • Jubilea Mansell   (2000)  Influence of parent and child characteristics on miscue feedback
  • Sabrina Bassett  (2000) Maternal time availability and children’s achievement in kindergarten
  • Jodi Page  (1998)   Letter name type in differential acquisition of letter sound knowledge
  • Deborah St. Pierre  (1998)   Cognitive effects of junior kindergarten and JK/SK classes
  • Lori McKinnon  (1997)   An examination of teacher and parent beliefs about reading
  • Charlene Barnie    (1997)   Shared reading of an alphabet book with kindergarten children
  • Bill Garland (1997)   Remembering learning to read: A narrative study
  • S. Hebblethwaite (1996)  External influences on parental beliefs about reading
  • Louise Scott    (1996)   Parental experiences and beliefs on early reading
  • Tiffany Schier   (1996)   Parental hypotheses on reading failure
  • Kirsten Eales   (1994)    Language development and middle ear infections
  • Ted Eberle (1993)  Parental helping behaviours in home reading
  • Dave VerVoort   (1992)   Expressive arts therapy with abused boys
  • Lesley Barraball  (1992)   Parental book reading with emergent readers
  • Peta Roberts  (1991)    Relationship between talkativeness and writing development
  • Debra Bugden  (1991)    Observational study of verbal participation in the classroom
  • Margie McFadden   (1990)   Writing development of grade three children
  • Betty McDermid  (1990)   Relationship between reticence and self-concept in childhood
  • Patti Ellis   (1990)    Requests and responses in dyadic interaction of reticent and verbal children            
  • Patricia Stephens (1983) Relationship between classroom participation, mathematics achievement & behaviour problems.
  • Cathy Williamson   (1982)  Familial influences on language learning and school progress

Selected Publications

Refereed Journal Articles


Evans, M. A. & Hulak, L. (2019). Learning to read at home: Kindergarten children’s report in relation to observed parent behaviour. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. (special  issue on children’s perceptions of their learning and education, S. Sonneschein & Y. Yakamoto, Eds.).

Evans, M.A., Nowak, S., Burek, B., & Willoughby, D. (2017)  The effect of alphabet e-books and paper books on preschoolers' behaviour: An analysis over repeated readings. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 40, 1-12.

Willoughby, D., Evans, M.A., & Nowak, S. (2015). Do ABC eBooks boost engagement and learning in preschoolers? An experimental study comparing eBooks with paper ABC and storybook controls.  Computers & Education. 82, 107-117.

Evans, M. A. & Saint-Aubin, J (2013). Vocabulary acquisition without adult explanations in repeated shared storybook reading: An eye movement study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 107-117.

Nowak, S., & Evans, M. A. (2013). Parents' goals for and perceptions of alphabet book. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 1265-1287.

Grant, A., Wood, E., Gottardo, A., Evans, M. A., Phillips, L, & Savage, R. (2012) Assessing the content and quality of commercially available reading software programs: Do they have the fundamental structures to promote the development of early reading skills in children?  NHSA Dialog, 15,  319-342,

Wood, E., Gottardo, A., Evans, M. A., Phillips, L., & Savage, R. (2012). Developing tools fro assessing and using commercially available reading software to promote the development of early reading skills in children.  NHSA Dialog 15,  350-354. 

Nandakumar, K., Evans, M. A. & Leat, S. (2011). Bifocals in Down Syndrome (BIDS): AN analysis of videorecorded sessions of literacy and visual perceptual skills. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 94, 575-585.

Edison, S. C. , Evans. M. A., McHolm, A. F., Cunningham, C. C., Nowakowski, M. E., Boyle, M., & Schmidt, L. A. (2011. parent child interactions among children with selective mutism, anxiety disorders, and non-clinical controls. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 42, 270-290.

Evans, M. A., Reynolds, K., Shaw, D., & Pursoo, T. (2011 ). Parental explanations of vocabulary during shared book reading. First Language, 31, 195-213.

Davis, B.,, Evans, M. A. & Reynolds, K. (2010). Child miscues and parental feedback  during shared alphabet book reading and relations with literacy skills. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 341-364.

Evans, M. A. & Saint-Aubin, J. (2009). Letter names and alphabet book reading by senior kintergarteners: An eye movement study. Child Development, 80, 1824-1841.

Reynolds. K., & Evans, M. A. (2009). Narrative performance and parental scaffolding of shy and non-shy children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 363-384.

Coplan, R., & Evans, M. A. (2009). At a loss for words? Introduction to the special issue on shyness and language in childhood. Infant and Child Development, 18, 211-215.

Nowakowski, M., Cunningham, C. M., McHolm, A. E., Evans, M. A., Edison, S., St. Pierre, J., Boyle, M. H., & Schmidt, L. (2009). Language  and academic abilities in children with selective mutism.  Infant and Child Development [Special issue on shyness and language], 18, 271-290..

Spere, K., Evans, M. A., Hendry, C. A. & Mansell, J. (2009). Language skill in shy and non-shy preschoolers and the effect of context. Journal of Child Language, 36, 53-71.

Spere, K., & Evans, M. A. . (2009). Shyness as a continuous dimension and language and literacy scores in young children: is there a relationship? Infant and Child Development [Special issue on shyness and language], 18, 216-237.

Evans, M. A. & Shaw, D. (2008). Home grown for reading: Parental contributions to literacy development. Canadian Psychology, 49, 89-95.

Audet, D., Evans, M. A., Mitchell, K , & Reynolds, K. (2008). Shared book reading: parental goals across the primary grades and goal-behavior relationships in junior kindergarten. Early Education and Development, 19, 113-138.

Evans, M. A., Williamson, K., & Pursoo, T. (2008). Preschoolers' attention to print during shared book reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12, 106-129.

Roy-Charland, A,, Saint-Aubin, J & Evans, M. A. (2007). Eye movements in shared book reading with children from kindergarten to Grade 4. Reading and Writing; An Interdisciplinary Journal, 20, 909-931.

Shankar, S. Evans, M. A., & Bobier, W. R. (2007) Hyperopes lag between emmetropes in emergent literacy skills. Optometry and Vision Science, 84, 1031-1038..

Evans, M. A., Bell, M., Shaw, D., Moretti, S. & Page, J. (2006). Letter names, letter sounds and phonological awareness: An examination of kindergarten children and of letters across children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal,19, 959-989.

Levy, B. A., Gong, Z., Hessles, S, Evans, M. A. & Jared, D. (2006). Understanding print: Early development and home experiences. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93, 63-93.

Evans, M. A., and Saint- Aubin, J. (2005). What children are looking at during shared storybook reading: Evidence from eye movement monitoring. Psychological Science, 16, 913-920.

Spooner, A. L., Evans, M. A., and Santos, R (2005). Hidden shyness: Discrepancies between self and others' perceptions of children's shyness. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 51, 437-466.

Mansell, J. Evans, M. A. & Hamilton, L. (2005). Developmental changes in parents' use of miscue feedback during shared book reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 294-317.

Evans, M. A., Fox, M., Scott, L., & McKinnon, L. (2004). Beginning reading: The views of parents and teachers of young children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(1), 130-141.

Evans, M. A., Moretti, S., Shaw, D., & Fox, M. (2003). Parent scaffolding in children's oral reading. Early Education and Development (special issue on Vygotskyian perspectives in Early Childhood Education), 14, 363-388.

Evans, M. A., Shaw, D., & Bell, M. (2000). Home literacy activities and their influence on early literacy skills. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2, 65-75.

Chung, J. Y. Y. & Evans, M. A. (2000). Shyness and symptoms of illness in young children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 32, 49-57.

Fenton, S., Newberry, J., Mcmanus, K., Korabik, K, & Evans, M. A. (2000), Evaluating the learning Opportunities Program: Some challenges and lessons learned. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 163-175.

Evans, M. A. (1998). Parental involvement in beginning reading: Preliminary report from a three year longitudinal study. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 14(1), 11-20.

Evans, M. A. (1998). Parental involvement in beginning reading: A three year longitudinal study--work in progress. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 13(2), 67-84.

Evans, M. A.. Baraball, L. & Eberle, T. (1998). Parental responses to miscues during child-to-parent book reading. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 19, 67-84.

Evans M. A. & Wodar, S. (1997). Maternal sensitivity to vocabulary development in specific language-impaired and language-normal preschoolers. Applied Psycholinguistics, 18, 243-256.

Evans, M. A. (1996). Reticent primary grade children and their more talkative peers: Verbal, nonverbal and self-concept characteristics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(4), 739-749.

Evans, M. A. & Bienert, H. (1992). Control and paradox in teacher conversations with shy children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 24 (4), 502-516.

Evans, M. A. and Schmidt, F. (1991). Repeated observations of maternal bookreading with a language-normal and language-impaired preschooler. First Language, 11, 269-287.

Evans, M. A. & Gamble, D. (1988). Attribute saliency and metaphor interpretation in school-age children. Journal of Child Language, 15, 435-449. Evans, M .A. Discourse characteristics of reticent children. (1987). Applied Psycholinguistics, 8, 171-184.

Evans, M. A. & Carr, T. H. (1986). Reply to Shapiro. Reading Research Quarterly, 21 (2).

Evans, M. A. & Carr, T. H. (1985). Cognitive abilities, conditions of learning, and the early development of reading skill. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 327-350.

Evans, M. A. (1985). Self-initiated speech repairs: A reflection of communicative monitoring in young children. Developmental Psychology, 21, 365-371.

Evans, M. A. (1985). Impact of classroom activities on beginning reading development. In T. H. Carr (Ed.) Development of reading skills. New Directions in Child Development. No. 27, (pp 77-94). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Evans, M. A. & Rubin, K. H. (1983). Developmental differences in explanations of childhood games. Child Development, 54, 1559-1567.

Evans, M. A.(1979). A comparative study of young children's classroom activities and learning outcomes. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 49, 15-26.

Evans, M. A. & Rubin, K. H. (1979). Hand gestures as a communicative mode in school-age children. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 135, 189-196.

Webster, C. D., McPherson, H., Sloman, L., Evans, M. A. & Kuchar, E. (1973). Communicating with an autistic boy by gestures. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 4, 337-346.

Book Chapters

Evans, M.A. (in press). E-book design and young children’s behaviour: The case of alphabet books. In JH. E. Kim & B. Hassinger-Da  (Eds.) Reading in the digital age: young children’s experiences with e-books. New York: Springer,

Evans, M. A.  & Reynolds, K., (2016). Child shyness and reading ability in Encounters with difficult words during shared book reading. In C. J. McLachlan & A. W. Arrow (Eds.) Literacy in the early years - Reflections on international research and practice. .  (pp 111- 130). New York: Springer.

Evans, M. &. & Saint-Aubin, J/ (2011). Studying and modifying children's visual attention during book reading. In D. Dickinson & S. neuman, (eds.) Handbook of emergent literacy Vol 3 (pp  242-255). New York:Guilford

Evans, M. A. (2010 ). Language performance, academic performance and signs of shyness: A comprehensive review. In. K. H. Rubin & R. Coplan (Ed.s.) The development of shyness and social withdrawal (pp179-212). New York: Guilford.

Evans M. A. Evans M. A.& Saint-Aubin, J. (2010). An eye for print: In D. Aram & O. Korat (Eds.) Literacy: Development and enhancement across orthographies and cultures (pp. 89-111). Springer.

Evans, M. A., Roy-Charland, A., & Saint-Aubin, J. (2008). A new look at an old format: Eye tracking studies of shared book reading and their implications for e- books and e-book research. Adriana G. Bus & Susan B. Neuman (Eds), Multimedia and literacy development: Improving achievement for young learners, New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Evans, M. A. (2001). Shyness in the classroom and home. In R. Crozier and L. Alden (Eds.) International handbook of social anxiety: Research and interventions relating to self and shyness (pp 159-183). Sussex: Wiley.

Evans, M. A. (1993). Communicative competence as a dimension of shyness. In K. H. Rubin and J. Asendorpf (Eds.) Social withdrawal, inhibition and shyness in children. (pp 189-212) Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Evans, M. A. (1992).

Evans corpora. CHAT formatted transcripts for first-grade play dyads. In B. McWhinney (ed). Child Language Exchange System (CHILDES) data base. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University.

Carr, T. H., Brown, T. L., Vavrus, L. G., & Evans, M. A. (1990). Cognitive Skill maps and cognitive skill profiles: Componential analysis of individual differences in children's reading efficiency. In T. H. Carr & B. A. Levy (Eds). Reading and its development: Component skills approaches. (pp 1-55). Academic Press.

Evans, M. A. (1985). Play beyond play: Its role in formal informative speech. In A. Pellegrini (Ed.) Play, language and story: The development of children's literate behaviour. (pp 129-145.) Norwood, N. J.: Ablex.

Evans, M. A. Watson, C. & Willows, D. (1987). A naturalistic inquiry into illustrations in instructional texts. In D. Willows & H. Houghton (Eds.) Illustrations, graphs and diagrams: Psychological theory and educational practice. (pp 87-111). New York: Springer Verlag.

Evans, M. A. & Carr, T. H. (1984). The ontogeny of description. In L. Feagans, C. Garvey, & R. Golinkoff (Eds.) The origins and growth of communication. (pp 297-316). Norwood, N. J.: Ablex.

Carr, T. H. & Evans, M. A. (1981). Classroom organization and reading ability: Are motivation and skill antagonistic goals? In J. R. Edwards (Eds.) Social psychology of reading. (pp 69-98). Silver Spring, MD: Institute of Modern Languages.

Webster, C. D., McPherson, H., Sloman, L., Evans, M. A., Kuchar, E. & Fruchter, D. (1980). Gestures as a means of communication with an autistic boy: A case study. In C. D. Webster (Ed.) Autism. (pp 179-186). New York: Pergammon.


Noble, K, & Evans, M. A.  (under review) . Self description the the LD experience

Burek B., Evans, M. A., Nowak, S., & Willoughby, B (revise resubmit) The effect of paper and digital alphabet books on preschoolers’ behaviour: an analysis over repeated readings

Deasley, S., Evans, M. A., Nowak, S., & Willoughby, D. (revise resubmit) Sex Differences in emergent literacy and reading behaviour in junior kindergarten

Evans, M. A. O'Grady, B, & Sulima (in prep.) The nature of English alphabet books.

Evans, M, A,, & Saint-Aubin (in prep). Place matters:  The effect of letter placement in alphabet books on preschoolers attention to print

Davis, B, & Evans, M. A.  (in prep)  How non readers read an alphabet book

Evans, M. A & Audet, D. (in prep)  Parental goals and beliefs as influences on shared book reading behaviour