Tricia van Rhijn

Department Chair & Professor, FRHD
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition
Phone number: 
(519) 824-4120 ext. 52412
Macdonald Institute, Room 245

Research interests: early childhood education & care, inclusion, children with disabilities, parent-child relationships, lifelong learning, mature students and student parents in postsecondary study

Area: Family Relations and Human Development

Description of research: I am an interdisciplinary social scientist and Registered Early Childhood Educator with research interests related to early childhood education and adult education. I am a mixed methods researcher with a goal of producing socially useful knowledge. Accordingly, much of my research focuses on policy- and practice-based considerations and applications.

I have two distinct areas of research interest that I investigate utilizing quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. My first area of research is early childhood education. In particular, I am interested in the experiences of children with disabilities and their families, inclusion, the impacts of curricular and teaching practice in early childhood settings on child development and well-being, and the professional development of pre-service Early Childhood Educators. Some examples of this research include projects examining the inclusion of children with disabilities in early learning settings and the use of technology in the classroom. As a Registered Early Childhood Educator, my work has a strong applied focus related to not only child outcomes, but also the needs of the workforce.

My second area of research is adult education, with a focus on the experiences of non-traditional students (in particular, student parents and mature students) pursuing formal post-secondary study. Some examples of this research include projects examining national-level data to determine the prevalence of mature learners and student parents in post-secondary education, conducting a longitudinal study of the experiences of mature learners focused on their multiple roles, and interviewing partnered mature students about the relationship between their partner and school roles. A goal of this work is to improve the provision of supports to enable this unique population to complete their studies and have positive experiences while studying.

The majority of my research is conducted with student collaborators, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, and my goal is to mentor student researchers and facilitate their interest and engagement in the research process.

PhD (FRAN-FRHD) – University of Guelph, 2012

Recent Publications*:

van Rhijn, T., Osborne, C., Gores, D., Keresturi, A., Neustifter, R., Muise, A., & Fritz, V. (2023). "You're a mature student and you're a tiny, tiny little fish in a big massive pond students": A thematic analysis investigating the institutional support needs of partnered mature students in postsecondary study. Education Sciences, 13(11), 1069.

Balter, A., Feltham, L., Parekh, G., Douglas, P., Underwood, K., & van Rhijn, T. (2023). Re-imagining inclusion through the lens of disabled childhoods. Social Inclusion, 11(1), 1-12.

Maich, K., van Rhijn, T., Hall, C., Mallabar, S., Vause, T., Squires, K., Hatt, A., & Ahi, M. (2022). Employing intensive teaching triads to enhance the impact of a peer-mediated social skills program. International Journal of Inclusive Education

Avery, K., van Rhijn, T., & Maich, K. (2022). Understanding the role of formal and informal support resources for parents of children with Austim Spectrum Disorder. Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, 14(3), 32-51.

Easterbrook, R., van Rhijn, T., & Neustifter, R. (2022). LGBTQ+ parents' experiences talking with their children about sex and sexuality. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 31(1), 130-142.

Squires, K., van Rhijn, T., Harwood, D., & Coghill, M. (2021). Outdoor learning as a way forward during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. eceLINK Peer Reviewed Collection, 5(2), 21-33.

Underwood, K., van Rhijn, T., Balter, A., Feltham, L., Douglas, P., Parekh, G., & Lawrence, B. (2021). Pandemic effects: Ableism, exclusion, and procedural bias. Journal of Childhood Studies, 46(3), 16-29.
van Rhijn, T., Underwood, K., Frankel, E., Lero, D. S., Spalding, K., Janus, M., Friendly, M., & Haché, A. (2021). Role of child care in creating inclusive communities and access for all. Canadian Public Policy, 47(3), 399-409.
Balter, A., van Rhijn, T., Gores, D., Davies, A. W. J., & Akers, T. (2021). Supporting the development of sexuality in early childhood: The rationales and barriers to sexuality education in early learning settings. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 30(3), 287-295..
*My other publications can be accessed through my ORCID page at  

*Student co-authors are underlined

What is the best policy mix for diverse Canadian families with young children? Reimagning family policies (SSHRC Partnership Grant; Co-I; PI Dr. Andrea Doucet, Brock University; 2020-2027)

Inclusive Early Childhood Service System project: A longitudinal study of familial viewpoints of early childhood disability services (SSHRC Partnership Grant; Co-I; PI Dr. Kathryn Underwood, Ryerson University; 2018-2025)

PhD: Victoria Fritz

MSc: Grace Caya