Faculty profile

Zachary Gold

Assistant Professor


413 Mahar Hall

Office hours

Tuesday 2:15-4:15 pm, Wednesday 10 am-12 pm (in-person or Join Zoom Meeting)


Zachary Gold received his B.A. in Psychology at SUNY Geneseo and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. After spending three years as the Horizon Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Departments of Education and Psychology at Concordia University, Montréal, he joined the faculty in Human Development at SUNY Oswego in 2020.


Dr. Gold is principal investigator of the Play and Development Laboratory, conducting research on the developmental implications of children’s play with blocks and other loose parts building materials. He has investigated connections between early play experiences and a variety of developmental and learning domains. He is specifically focused on developing the engineering play framework, an educational approach for understanding constructive play as an engineering design process for STEM learning. Dr. Gold’s research has been funded by the KABOOM! National Non-Profit and Kodo Kids Company. He is collaborating with the Children’s Museum of Oswego on programs and research.


  • Gold, Z. S., Perlman, J., Howe, N., Mishra, A. A., DeHart, G. B., Hertik, H., & Buckley, J. (2022). An observational study of children’s problem solving during play with friends. Journal of Cognition and Development. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15248372.2022.2058509
  • Gold, Z. S., Elicker, J., Evich, C. D., Mishra, A. A., Howe, N., & Weil, A. E. (2021). Engineering is child's play: Preschool children can build more than just structures with blocks. [JEE Selects Column] In E. Miller (Ed.), Prism Magazine. Washington, DC: American Society for Engineering Education. http://www.asee-prism.org/jee-selects-nov-dec/
  • Elicker, J., Gold, Z. S., Mishra, A. A., & Lane, S. F. (2021). Toddlers' developmental trajectories as a function of QRIS rated child care quality. Child & Youth Care Forum. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-021-09643-z
  • Gold, Z. S., Elicker, J., Evich, C. D., Mishra, A. A., Howe, N., & Weil, A. E. (2021). Engineering play with blocks as an informal learning context for executive function and planning. Journal of Engineering Education, 110(4), 803-818. https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20421
  • Gold, Z. S., Elicker, J., Kellerman, A. M., Christ, S. L., Mishra, A. A., & Howe, N. (2021). Engineering play, mathematics, and spatial skills in children with and without disabilities [Special Issue]. Early Education and Development, 32(1), 49-65. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2019.1709382
  • Gold, Z. S., & Elicker, J. (2020). Engineering peer play: A new perspective on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) early childhood education. In A. Ridgway, G. Quiñones, & L. Li (Eds.), Peer Play and Relationships in Early Childhood: International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development, Vol. 30 (pp. 61-75). Switzerland: Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42331-5_5
  • Gold. Z. S., Elicker, J., & Beaulieu, B. A. (2020). Learning engineering through block play: STEM in preschool [STEM Cluster]. Young Children, 75(2), 24-29. Retrieved from NAEYC.
  • Gregori, E. V., Wendt, O., Gerow, S., Peltier, C., Genc-Tesun, D., Lory, C., & Gold, Z. S. (2020). Functional communication training for adults with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and quality appraisal. Journal of Behavioral Education, 29(1), 42-63. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10864-019-09339-4
  • Purpura, D. J., Napoli, A. R., Wehrspann, E. A., & Gold, Z. S. (2017). Causal connections between mathematical language and mathematical knowledge: A dialogic reading intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(1), 116-137. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2016.1204639
  • Gold, Z. S., Elicker, J., Choi, J. Y., Anderson, T., & Brophy, S. P. (2015). Preschoolers’ engineering play behaviors: Differences in gender and play context. Children, Youth and Environments, 25(3), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.25.3.0001
  • Whiteman, S. D., Senguttuvan, U., & Gold, Z. S. (2015). Siblings. In H. S. Friedman. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 2nd Edition, Vol. 4 (pp. 152-157). Waltham, MA: Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-397045-9.00114-2


  • Post-Doc, Education and Psychology, Concordia University, 2017-2020
  • Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, 2017
  • MS, Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, 2014
  • BA, Psychology, State University of New York at Geneseo, 2012

Classes taught

  • HDV 302 – Methods in Human Development II
  • HDV 322 – Child Development
  • HDV 343 – Early Childhood Play Behavior
  • HDV 490 – Practicum in Research