Faculty & Staff

Sarai Coba-Rodriguez

Assistant Professor


2017 - Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  Human Development and Family Studies 

2012 - M.S., University  of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Human and Community Development 

2010 - B.A., University  of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Sociology; Spanish (minor) 

Research & Teaching Interests

Dr. Sarai Coba-Rodriguez's research focuses on school readiness and family involvement among low-income Latino and African-American families, including their beliefs and practices that promote young children’s successful transition to kindergarten. She uses family resilience framework to guide her research. This framework views families as a system and considers how they collectively thrive, despite adversity. Challenging notions of dysfunction and deficit, a family resilience approach emphasizes families’ strengths and cultural resources, as well as families’ agency in promoting their children’s school readiness. To better understand social reality from groups that are often marginalized, she utilizes qualitative research methods (i.e., in-depth interviewing, photo elicitation interviewing, participant observation, and naturalistic observation) to empower them to share their stories and hear their voices.

Selected Publications

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (in press). "We 'Gonna Get on the Same Page:"School readiness perspectives from preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, and low-income, African American mothers of preschoolers. The Journal of Negro Education. 

Villegas, E., Coba‐Rodriguez, S., & Wiley, A. R. (2018). Continued Barriers Affecting Hispanic Families’ Dietary Patterns. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal46(4), 363-380.

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2018). “People and places:” The value qualitative research has for studying African-American families and urban neighborhoods. SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2017). “How African American mothers from urban, low-income backgrounds support their children’s kindergarten transition: Qualitative findings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-10.

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2017). “We keep the education goin’ at home all the time:” Family literacy practices in low-income African American families of preschoolers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 22(2), 57-76.

Jarrett, R. L., Hamilton, M. B., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2015). “So we would all help pitch in:” The family literacy practices of low-income   African American mothers of preschoolers. Journal of  Communication Disorders, 57,81-93.

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2015). “My mother didn’t play about education”: Low-income, African American mothers’ early school experiences and their impact on school involvement for preschoolers transitioning to kindergarten. The Journal of Negro Education,84(3),457-472.

Brooks, D.J, & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (2015). Families in South Africa: The legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. National Council on Family Relations Report Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.ncfr.org/ncfr-report/focus/family-focus-conflict-violence-an... truth-and-reco 

Professional Affiliations & Activities

National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)

Illinois Council on Family Relations (ILCFR)

American Sociological Association (ASA)

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

National Head Start Association

Courses Taught

255 Child Development in Contemporary Society


ED 100 or PSCH 100; or consent of the instructor.

Examination of theories on child development that explain age-related differences in cognition, affect, and behavior, and how this relates to 0-14 year old children?s learning and educational needs.

594 Special Topics in Educational Psychology


ED 421 and ED 422, or consent of the instructor.

Seminar on a preannounced topic focusing on methodology, research, and educational implications of recent models of learning, problem solving, and thinking. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 hours.