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Dr. Allison Sterling Henward

Dr. Allison Sterling Henward
Phone: (814) 865-1807
Office Address:
180 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Associate Professor


Curriculum and Instruction


Comparative and International Education
Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education


I am an educational anthropologist, an early childhood education (ECE) specialist, and core faculty in the comparative and international education program at Penn State. I apply comparative, ethnographic, and qualitative research methods to study the ways in which culture and class impact and shape ECE programs. I examine what is taught (curriculum), how it is taught (pedagogy), and how this takes place in classrooms that differ in geographic location, class, culture, and language use to show how and why local context matters. 

I am currently conducting a comparative ethnographic study of Head Start policy in four cultural communities in the United States. My aim is to better understand what happens when federal policy is implemented across sites and how this policy impacts teachers and children in various cultural and linguistic contexts. 

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels

Early Childhood

Curriculum Areas

Early Childhood Ed

Education Levels

Early Childhood

Educational Studies

Comparative Ed
Critical & Feminist Theory
Cultural Studies
Media Studies


Equity and Diversity

Representative Publications


Henward, A., Tauaa, M.,* & Turituri, R.* (2019). Reweaving clothes and reweaving curriculum policy in practice: Lessons from an American Sāmoa Head Start program. Journal of Pedagogy. 10 (1) 33 – 55

Henward, A., Turituri, R.,* & Tauaa, M.* (2019). “We need both”: Combining video-cued multivocal ethnographic methods and traditional fieldwork in Samoan Head start policy research." Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 50(3) 1-7.

Henward, A., Tauaa, M.,* & Turituri, R.* (2019). Contextualizing child centeredness: Lessons from an American Samoa Head Start. Policy Futures in Education,17(3), 383–401.

Henward, A. (2018). Examining discursive formations in early childhood media research: A genealogical analysis. Global Studies of Childhood, 8(3), 225–237.

Henward, A., & Grace, D. J. (2016). Kindergartners’ development of privileged subjectivities within an elite school. Children and Society, 30(6), 488–498.

Henward, A. (2015). “She don’t know I got it. You ain’t gonna tell her are you?” Popular culture as resistance in American preschools. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 46(3), 208-223.

Henward, A., & Macgillivray, L. (2014). Bricoleurs in preschool: Girls poaching horror media and gendered discourses. Gender and Education, 26(7), 726-742.

Grace, D., & Henward, A. (2013). Investigating children's talk about the media. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 14(2),138-154.

Henward, A., & Macgillivray, L. (2012). It’s a combination of the Bible and what’s in your heart”: Unresolvable tensions and contested narratives in a Southern child care center. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 28(3), 91-108.

Henward, A., & Iorio, J. (2011). What's teaching and learning got to do with it?: Bills, competitions, and neoliberalism in the name of reform. Teachers College Record,

Henward, A., (2010). Popular culture at play. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 14(4), 98-104.


Scott, K.A., & Henward, A. (2016). (Eds.) Women Education Scholars and Their Children’s Schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.

Book Chapters:

Yoon, Y.,** & Henward, A. (in press). Reexamining and reassembling the gendered worlds of preschool girls. In A. Sriskandarajah (Ed.), Sociological Studies of Children and Youth. Bingly, UK: Emerald Publishing.

Henward, A., & Dong, P.** (2020). Digital learning and multiliteracy pedagogy in early childhood education. In M. Peters (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Teacher Education. (pp. )New York, NY: Springer.

Scott, K.A., & Henward, A. (2016). Introduction. In K. Scott & A. Henward (Eds.) Women Education Scholars and Their Children’s Schooling (pp.1-8). New York, NY: Routledge.

Henward, A. (2015). (Re)imagining participant observation with preschool children. in W. Parnell & J. Iorio (Eds.), Disrupting early childhood education research: Imagining new possibilities (pp. 73-85). New York, NY: Routledge.

Henward, A. (2012). Ariel and Buzz Light-year are coming to school: Incorporating children's popular culture ideas in the classroom in S. Blake, D. Windsor, & L. Allen (Eds.) Child Development and the Use of Technology: Perspectives, Applications, and Experiences (pp.96-111). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.   

Henward, A. (2011). Technology in three American preschools: Technological influences, ideology and social class in S. Blake, D. Windsor, & L. Allen (Eds.), Technology and young children: Bridging the Communication-Generation Gap (pp.65-87). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.   

Tobin, J., & Henward, A. (2011). Ethnographic studies of children and youth and the media. in B. Levinson & M. Pollock (Eds.) A Companion to Anthropology of Education. (pp. 212-231) London: Blackwell.