Diane E. Beals

Diane Beals

Department ChairAssociate Professor of EducationChapman Hall 320

Diane Beals conducts research on the links between language and literacy development in young children. She has worked with Drs. Catherine Snow and David Dickinson on the Home-School Study since 1989, during her doctoral studies at Harvard. Her research on the project has focused largely on the use of narrative and explanation in family mealtime conversations, beginning with her dissertation, completed in 1991, titled ‘I know who makes ice cream’: Explanations in Mealtime Conversations of Low-Income Families of Preschoolers. Since she has continued her research on the development of children’s ability to use different genres of discourse. In collaboration with Dr. Patton Tabors, she has expanded this work to examine the informativeness of the use of rare vocabulary (words preschoolers would not be expected to know) within these discourse genres and situations. She is currently an associate professor and Director of the School of Education at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has also served as a member of the New Standards Speaking and Listening Committee of the National Center for Education and the Economy, which developed Speaking and Listening for Preschool through Third Grade, a multimedia publication that addresses the language foundations of early literacy.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • B.A. in General Science (elementary education), Seattle Pacific University, June, 1978
  • M.Ed. in Developmental Reading, University of Washington, August, 1984
  • Ed.D. in Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University, June, 1991

Areas of Research Focus

  • Child language
  • Development of discourse abilities
  • Connections between vocabulary and discourse development
  • Discourse analysis
  • Literacy development
  • Classroom discourse
  • Children’s explanations
  • Cultural and individual differences in language, literacy, discourse development
  • Language and cognition

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Assistant Professor of Education (9/91 to 6/99)  Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
    • Taught graduate and undergraduate courses in child development (Education, Childhood, and Society, The Construction of Childhood, Language, Literacy, and Culture), research methods (Discourse Analysis) and reading development and methods (Teaching Reading in the Elementary School, Diagnosis and Correction of Reading Disabilities, Reading in the Content Areas).
  • Visiting Professor of Education (6/98-7/98)  Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.
    • Taught graduate level course on Language Acquisition.
  • Teaching Fellow (9/90 to 1/91)  Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA.
    • Assisted Professors Kurt Fischer and Robert LeVine with teaching Proseminar in Human Development. Led discussion sections. Lectured on language development. Evaluated student presentations and papers. Assisted individual students.
  • Teaching Fellow (1/90 to 6/90)  Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA.
    • Assisted Professor Howard Gardner with teaching Cognitive Development course. Led discussion sections. Assisted individual students. Evaluated student papers.
  • Assistant Professor (7/89 to 8/89)  Simmons College, Boston, MA.
    • Taught Introduction to Educational Psychology in the School of Education’s teacher education program.
  • Teaching Fellow (9/88 to 1/89)  Psychology Department, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
    • Assisted Professor Sheldon White with assembling course materials and audio-visual aids for Child’s Entrance into Society. Reviewed current literature on developmental psychology and its application to schooling and curriculum. Administered exams.

Previous Relevant Work Experience

  • Special Education Teacher (8/86 to 6/87)  North Andover High School, North Andover, MA.
    • Taught academic subjects and study skills. Supported special needs students with regular class work. Consulted with teachers regarding special students’ progress. Chaired Core Team Evaluations.
  • Special Education Teacher (6/81 to 6/86)  Eastside Catholic High School, Bellevue, WA.
    • Established language-based program for mildly/moderately mentally handicapped students. Taught all subject areas. Tracked students in mainstream classes. Worked with regular students to improve disabilities awareness.
  • Special Education Teacher (8/79 to 6/81)  North Kitsap High School, Poulsbo, WA.
    • Taught reading, English, and survival math to learning disabled students. Designed new objectives and curricula for courses.
  • Special Education Teacher (8/79 to 6/80)  North Kitsap Middle School, Poulsbo, WA.
    • Established new classroom for students with severe learning disabilities. Taught reading, math, English, and social studies.
  • Student Teacher (8/78-6/79)  Poulsbo Elementary School, Poulsbo, WA.
    • Student taught in three different classrooms for the full school year. Regular first grade, special education resource room for children with learning disabilities, and special education class for moderately to severely mentally retarded.

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • American Educational Research Association
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • International Child Language Association

Courses Taught at TU

  • Advanced Child and Adolescent Growth and Development (EDUC 7123)
  • Foundations of Education (EDUC 2104)
  • Introduction to Education (EDUC 1101)
  • Literacy Assessment and Intervention (EDUC 3323)
  • Techniques of Research and Evaluation (EDUC 7153)
  • The Child/Adolescent and the Learning Environment (EDUC 3713)
  • Writing and Language Development (EDUC 3303)

Awards & Recognition

  • 1989 Pass with Distinction on Student Qualifying Paper, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • 1990 Alternate, Dissertation Year Fellowship, Spencer Foundation
  • 1998 Faculty Award to Improve Learning, William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank Trustee
  • 2007 Faculty Member of the Year, Student-Athlete Advisory Council
  • 2008 Distinquished Teaching Award, Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, Univerity of Tulsa.


  • Deciding What to Tell: Selecting and Elaborating Narrative Topics in Family Interaction and Children’s Elicited Personal Experience Stories
    Diane E. Beals and Catherine E. Snow. (2002). In S. Blum-Kulka & C. Snow (Eds.) Talking to Adults: The Contribution of Multi-Party Discourse to Language Acquisition (pp. 15-32). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Eating and Reading: Links Between Family Conversations with Preschoolers and Later Language and Literacy
    Diane E. Beals. (2001). In D. Dickinson & P. Tabors (Eds.) Beginning Literacy with Language: Young Children Learning at Home and School (pp. 75-92). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
  • Speaking and Listening for Preschool through Third Grade
    New Standards Speaking and Listening Committee. (2001). Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy. Member of the Committee.