Dr. Sandra Della Porta

Assistant Professor (PhD, MA, BA (Hons))

Available for Graduate Advisement

Office: WH165
905 688 5550 x5558

Dr. Della Porta has a multidisciplinary background in Psychology and Education, specializing in early childhood. In combination with her experience working with children from infancy to school-age, she has built a research program studying children’s learning during formal and informal interactions in unstructured contexts (e.g., play, conflict, routine exchanges). Her central focus is on the study of social power and how children understand and use it in everyday experiences. Studying the concept of social power has many implications, including building knowledge concerning children’s agency and assertiveness, interpreting how children learn concepts of equity and fairness, understanding the role that social power plays in the learning process, and gaining insight into children’s social and cultural knowledge. 

  • Social power and power dynamics  
  •  Informal learning contexts (e.g., family exchanges, teacher-child interactions, social play) 
  • Social-cognition in early childhood  
  • The teaching and learning process 
  • Social relationships and family dynamics 


Persram, R., Della Porta, S., Scirocco, A., Howe, N., & Ross, H. (2019). A 2-year 

longitudinal study of naturalistic parent-child- and sibling-originated polyadic conflicts. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 6(4)5, 377-401. doi:10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.65.4.0377 

Abuhatoum, S., Della Porta, S., Howe, N., & DeHart, G. (2019). A longitudinal examination of power in sibling and friend conflict. Social Development, Online Version, 1-17. doi: 10.1111/sode.12433  

Persram, R., Scirocco, A., Della Porta, S., & Howe, N. (2019). Moving beyond the dyad: Broadening our understanding of family conflict. Human Development. doi: 10.1159/000501880  

Della Porta, S., Howe, N., & Persram, R. J. (2019). Parents’ and children’s power effectiveness during polyadic family conflict: Process and outcome. Social Development, 28, 152-167. doi: 10.1111/sode.12333  

Abuhatoum, S., Howe, N., Della Porta, S., & DeHart, G. (2018). A dyadic analysis of power in sibling and friend conflict in early childhood. Infant and Child Development, 27, 1-14. doi:10.1002/icd.2085  

Della Porta, S., & Howe, N. (2017). Siblings’ power and influence in polyadic conflict during early childhood. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 156, 15-31. doi:10.1002/cad.20200  

Persram, R. J., Howe, N., Della Porta, S., & Ross, H. S. (2017). Family members’ helping behaviour: Alliance formations during naturalistic polyadic conflicts. Infant and Child Development, 26, 1-15. doi: 10.1002/icd.2007  

Howe, N., Della Porta, S., Recchia, H., & Ross, H. (2016). “Because if you don’t put the top on, it will spill”: A longitudinal study of sibling teaching in early childhood. Developmental Psychology, 52, 1832-1842.doi10.1037/dev0000193  

Abuhatoum, S., Howe, N., Della Porta, S., Recchia, H., & Ross, H. (2016). Siblings’ understanding of teaching in early and middle childhood: ‘Watch me and you’ll know how to do it’. Journal of Cognition and Development, 17, 180-196. doi:10.1080/15248372.2015.1042579 

Howe, N.,Adrien, E.,Della Porta, S.,Peccia, S.,Recchia, H.,Osana, H. P., & Ross, H.(2016)‘Infinity means it goes on forever’: Siblings’ informal teaching of mathematics. Infant and Child Development,25,137157. doi:10.1002/icd.1928 

Howe, N., Della Porta, S., Recchia, H., Funamoto, A., & Ross, H. (2015). ‘This bird can’t do it ‘cause this bird doesn’t swim in water’: Sibling teaching during naturalistic home observations in early childhood. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16, 314-332. doi:10.1080/15248372.2013.848869 

  • 2020 MITACS & Brock University Research Training Award ($6,000) 
  • 2020 Match of Minds Program Award, Office of Research Services, Brock University ($5,000) 
  • 2019 Research & Development Funding, Faculty of Education, Brock University ($1,000) 
  • 2019 Match of Minds Program Award, Office of Research Services, Brock University ($5,000) 
  • 2019-2020 Graduate Research Assistant Development Fund, Faculty of Education, Brock University ($1,500) 
  • 2018-2019 Graduate Research Assistant Development Fund, Faculty of Education, Brock University ($1,500) 
  • 2015 Match of Minds Program Award, Office of Research Services, Brock University ($4,500) 
  • EDUC 5Q97 Culminating Seminar in Education 
  • EDUC 5P31 Families, Schools and Learning  
  • EDUC 5P85 Reflective Practice  
  • EDUC 3P40 Family, Schools and Literacy  
  • EDUC 3P52 Early Childhood Education II  
  • EDUC 3P53 Ethics, Research and Care  
  • EDUC 3P85 Internship I 
  • EDUC 3P95 Advanced School-Based Internship 
  • EDUC 4D50 Early Childhood Education Honours Thesis 
  • EDUC 4P24 Literacy in the Early Years  
  • EDUC 4P35 Global Education: A Cross-Curricular Approach EDUC 3P50 Early Childhood Education I 
  • EDUC 4P80 Research Methods in Education 
  • EDUC  4P85 Internship II