Tricia van Rhijn

Associate Professor, FRHD
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition
Phone number: 
(519) 824-4120 ext. 52412
Macdonald Institute, Room 215

Research interests: children with special needs, inclusion, early childhood education & care, 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. One of my current projects is investigating families' experiences with early childhood services for their child with special needs. Another project focuses on partnered mature students and the influences between intimate partner relationships and school success.  

Accepting graduate students: Fall 2021 (MSc) 

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 special needs 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 special needs 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., Maich, K., Lero, D. S., & Hope Irwin, S. (2019). Assessing inclusion quality: The SpeciaLink Early Childhood Inclusion Quality Scale. Exceptionality Education International, 29(3), 92-112. Retrieved from  
Fritz, V., & van Rhijn, T. (2019). Examining the postsecondary enrolment of low-income mature students in Canada. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education, 10(2), 7-20. Retrieved from 
Areguy, F., Mock, S., Breen, A., van Rhijn, T., Wilson, K. & Lero, D. (2019). Communal orientation, benefit-finding, and coping among young carers. Child & Youth Services, 40(4), 363-382. 
van Rhijn, T., Osborne, C., Ranby, S., Maich, K., Hall, C., Rzepecki, L., & Hemmerich, A. (2019, early online view). Peer play in inclusive child care settings: Assessing the impact of Stay, Play, & Talk, a peer-mediated social skills program. Child Care in Practice.  
Ingram, C., Breen, A., & van Rhijn, T. (2019). Teaching for well-being? Introducing mindfulness in an undergraduate course. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(6), 814-825.
Maich, K., Davies, A., & van Rhijn, T. (2019). A relaxation station for self-regulation. Intervention in School and Clinic, 54(3), 160-165.


*I maintain a collection on the University of Guelph’s institutional repository to promote open access to my work. My collection can be accessed at the following link: 

*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)

An investigation of expert perspectives on developmentally appropriate sexuality education in the early years (University of Guelph-Humber Research Grant Fund; Co-I; PI Alice-Simone Balter, University of Guelph-Humber; 2020-2021)

Naturalized vs. traditional playgrounds: Investigating the impact of playground types on young children's play behaviours and activity levels (SSHRC Insight Development Grant; PI; 2019-2021)

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)

When one partner goes to school: A dyadic, mixed-methods investigation of the connections between intimate partner relationships and post-secondary study (SSHRC Insight Development Grant; PI; 2016-2018)

A community-engaged outcome evaluation of Toronto Public Health’s Raising Sexually Healthy Children for Child Care Providers program (University of Guelph-Humber Research Grant Fund; Co-I; PI Alice-Simone Balter, University of Guelph-Humber; 2016-2018)

PhD: Victoria Fritz, Saima Sheikh, Kim Squires

MSc: Taylor Akers, Kaitlyn Avery, Kim Barton, Rsha Soud (co-advised by Adam Davies)

Area of Research

Family Relations and Human Development