Janette B. Benson

Associate Professor

Professional Biography

Janette B. Benson earned her undergraduate degree at San Francisco State University in 1978, masters and doctorate degrees in developmental psychology at Clark University in Worcester, MA in 1980 and 1983, respectively, and came to the University of Denver in 1983 first as an institutional postdoctoral fellow and then as an individual postdoctoral fellow with her own NRSA funding. She has received research funding from federal (NICHD, NSF) and private (March of Dimes, MacArthur Foundation) grants, leading initially to a research assistant professor position and today as a tenured faculty member in the psychology department at the University of Denver. Dr. Benson has been director of the undergraduate psychology program and was area head of the developmental psychology Ph.D. program.

Dr. Benson has received various awards for her scholarship and teaching, including being named the 1993 United Methodist Teacher-Scholar of the Year at the University of Denver, and in 2000 she was selected as the CASE Colorado Professor of the Year. Dr. Benson was selected by the American Psychological Association (APA) to be the 1995-1996 Esther Katz Rosen endowed Child Policy Fellow and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Fellow, spending a year working as a legislative assistant in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. on Child and Education Policy. In 1999, Dr. Benson was selected as a Carneige Scholar and attended two summer institutes at the Carneige Foundation’s Center for the Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Palo Alto, CA. In 2001, Dr. Benson was awarded a Susan and Donald Sturm Professorship for Excellence in Teaching through the University of Denver’s Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2009, Dr. Benson was named a fellow by the Association for Psychological Science (APS). She was asked to join the Board of Directors of Shortridge Academy in Milton, NH in 2010.

Dr. Benson has authored and co-authored numerous chapters and articles on infant and early childhood development on the relation between motor and cognitive development, spatial cognition, the development of future orientation and temporal knowledge in children from infancy through middle childhood. She has co-edited two books, was the co-editor-in-chief of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, published in 2008 and is the editor-in-chief of the second edition (to be published in 2020) by Elsevier for world-wide distribution in over 500 international research libraries, has co-edited three derivative volumes from this encyclopedia published in 2009, and in 2011 was named the serial editor of Advances in Child Development and Behavior.

In January 2008 Dr. Benson was appointed as Director of the Office of Academic Assessment at the University of Denver, while still maintaining her faculty position in the Department of Psychology. She was co-chair of the University-wide reaccreditation effort that resulted in a successful site visit in 2010 after which the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association awarded DU full reaccreditation for another ten-year cycle. From 2014 to 2017 Dr. Benson was recruited to serve as the Associate Dean of the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and to provide leadership and oversight for the Colorado state reauthorization of licensure programs and various external accreditations for degree programs in the MCE.


  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Clark University, 1983
  • MA, Developmental Psychology, Clark University, 1980
  • BA, Psychology, San Francisco State University, 1978

Featured Publications

Plumert, J. M. (2018). Advances in Child Development and Behavior: Studying the Perception-Action System as a Model System for Understanding Development, vol 55. (J. B. Benson, Ed.) (Vol. 55). San Diego, CA, United States: Elsevier (Academic Press).
Benson, J. B. (Ed.). (2019). Advances in Child Development and Behavior, vol. 56 (Vol. 56). San Diego, CA, United States: Elsevier (Academic Press Imprint).