Photo of Coba-Rodriguez, Sarai

Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, PhD, CFLE

Assistant Professor

Educational Psychology


Building & Room:

1242 ETMSW


1040 W. Harrison St. (M/C 147), Chicago, IL 60607

Office Phone Voice:

(312) 413-1053

Related Sites:


Dr. Sarai Coba-Rodriguez's research focuses on school readiness and family involvement among low-income Latino and African-American families and preschool teachers, including their beliefs and practices that promote young children’s successful transition to kindergarten. Challenging notions of dysfunction and deficit, she uses a family resilience approach that emphasizes families’ strengths and cultural resources, as well as families’ agency in promoting their children’s school readiness. Through the use of qualitative research methods (i.e., in-depth interviewing, photo elicitation interviewing, participant observation, and naturalistic observation), Dr. Coba-Rodriguez aims to present a more complex, dynamic, and resilient picture of low-income, racially-diverse families with young children.

Selected Grants

University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education, Office Collaborative Community Grant, Title: Fostering Parent Engagement & Home-School Collaboration in an Englewood Montessori Chicago Public Charter Elementary School, PI

Selected Publications

Coba-Rodriguez, S. & Jarrett, R.L. (accepted for publication). Family Literacy. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Intimate and Family Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Approach (MEIFR).

Jarrett, R. L., & Coba-Rodriguez, S. (accepted for publication). “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.

Professional Leadership

Ethnic Minorities Section Students and New Professionals Representative, National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)


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

Professional Memberships

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

Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits

Podcast  - Illinois Learning Project

Diverse Families and the Transition to Kindergarten

Part of the training and technical assistance for the Preschool for All and Prevention Initiative funding for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).