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Alessandra Sansavini

Full Professor


Academic discipline: M-PSI/04 Developmental and Educational Psychology

Curriculum vitae

Alessandra Sansavini

Full Professor in Developmental Psychology and Education- School of Psychology and Education- Department of Psychology- University of Bologna

Academic iter

- University degree (1989) at Bologna University. PhD in Psychology (1994) at Bologna University; PhD thesis awarded by AIP (Italian Society of Psychology) in 1994 (prize for the best PhD Thesis in Italy). Post-doc fellowship (1995-97) at the Psychology Department of Bologna University.

- Researcher (1997-2005) in Developmental Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology of Bologna University, then, since 2000, at the Faculty of Education where she has been teaching Developmental Psychology as well as at School of Health and Clinical Psychology. Associate Professor (2005-2016) in Developmental Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology of Bologna University.

- Period of study abroad: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., (a semester in 1985), during the University studies (Fulbright scholarship).

- Research periods abroad as PhD student: a) University of Amsterdam and University of Groningen (1991) for a research collaboration with prof. B. Hopkins, A. Kalverboer and Y. Van Beek, on the effects of preterm birth on development; b) Laboratoire de Psycho-Biologie du Développement (CNRS, Paris, prof. H. Bloch) (1992) and Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (CNRS-EHESS, Paris, prof. J. Mehler and dott. J. Bertoncini) (1992, 1993, 1994), for a research collaboration on newborns' linguistic perception.

Research and teaching assignments abroad

2018 Visiting Fellow (2 weeks), University of Pittsburgh, USA, Innovative Cooperation Project, collaboration with proff. Jana Iverson, Klaus Libertus, Melissa Libertus.

- 2018 Visiting Professor (1 week), University of Haifa, Israel, Erasmus+ Agreement, collaboration with prof. Anat Scher.

- 2015 Visiting Fellow (one month), University of Pittsburgh, USA, collaboration with prof. Jana Iverson.

- 1996 Visiting Fellow (one week), University of Sussex, UK, Erasmus Teaching Exchange Program, collaboration with prof. George Butterworth.

- 1995 Research Contract (2 mo), Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, CNRS-EHESS Paris, France, collaboration with prof. J. Mehler and dr. J. Bertoncini.


Scientific activities

- Research fields: development of communication, language and cognition, newborns' speech perception, mother-infant interaction, oral and written language development, influence of biological and social factors on development, in typical and at risk populations. Experimental works done on preterm and at term newborns, infants and children, in collaboration with the Institute of Neonatology of Bologna University and with other Italian and European Research Labs and Universities. Further research fields: development of social, narrative, cognitive, and temporal competences in preschool children.

PI of scientific projects.

2019-2023 PRIN2017 Italian Ministry of University and Research “Early markers of Language-Learning Impairment”. Role: P.I. UniBO Unit. 1.5 months/year. National collaboration, with prof. V. Macchi Cassia (University of Milano Bicocca) National PI; prof. Maja Roch (University of Padova) Local PI.

2017-2020 ALMAIDEA2017 Bologna University “Language delays in preterm children: screening, assessment and intervention”. Role: P.I. Collaboration with prof. G. Faldella, L. Corvaglia, A. Aceti, Unit of Neonatology, University of Bologna.

2017-2018 International Innovation Cooperation Project Bologna University “Implementing Cross-cultural, Cross-Population and Interdisciplinary Methodology for Studying Development”. Role: P.I. International collaboration with prof. J. Iverson, K. Libertus, M. Libertus (University of Pittsburgh, US). Other Unibo members: prof. A. Guarini, M. Benassi.

2008-2012 PRIN2008 Italian Ministry of University and Research “Gestures and language in children with atypical and at risk developmental profiles: relationships among competences, mother-child interaction modalities and proposals of intervention”. Role: P.I. National collaboration with prof. M. C. Caselli and O. Capirci (CNR, Roma), prof. M. Lavelli (University of Verona), dr. A. Bello and S. Stefanini (University of Parma). International collaboration with prof. L. Justice (University of Ohio) and prof. J. Iverson (University of Pittsburgh).

2009-2013 Responsible for the Italian unit in the European Network on Communicative Development Inventories - Project: CDI Narratives: cross-linguistic data, coordinated by J. Reilly (San Diego State University).

2007-2011 Strategic Project Bologna University “Early communicative-linguistic and cognitive abilities: risks linked to preterm birth”. Role: P.I. 

since 1991 grants from Bologna University since 1991.

Member of scientific projects.

2017-2020 Con I Bambini-Impresa Sociale “Trame educative per nuove comunità”. Role. Member. 

2017-2018 International Innovation Cooperation Project Bologna University “Joint Research Lab Student Well-Being and Prevention of Violence: the dimension of social intervention”. Role: Member. 

2016-2019 Spanish National Program “Diferencias entre niños prematuros de bajo riesgo y nacidos at termino en lectoescritura y habilidades cognitive-linguisticas”. Role: Member. 

2012-2015 FARB Bologna University “Reading processes in preterm children, children with dyslexia and typically developing children”. Role: Member. P.I.: prof. A. Guarini. This project has an interdisciplinar character, based on the collaboration among psychologists and neonathologists.

2004-2006 PRIN2004 Italian Ministry of University and Research “Development of expressive communication in the first months of life: normal and at risk paths”. Role: Member. P.I.: prof. M. L. Genta.

2004-2006 European Socrates project “Relational approaches in early education: enhancing social inclusion, personal growth and learning”. Role: Member. P.I.: prof. P. Kutnick (King's College, London).

1994-1997 Erasmus project “Teaching exchange in Developmental Psychology and Psychobiology”. Role: Member. P.I.: prof. G. Butterworth (University of Sussex).

1997-1999 National grant Ministry of University and Research. Role: Member.

1992-1998 National grants of the National Research Council. Role: Member.

The results of her research have been published in international and national scientific peer-reviewed journals, in international and national book chapters, and in monographic books (as author and editor), and presented in many international and national conferences, several times also as invited speaker.

Editorial Actiivities

2011-now Member of the Editorial Board of the journal "Child Language Teaching and Therapy", Sage, London, UK.

2011-now Member of the Editorial Board “Developmental Disabilities Psychology Series”. FrancoAngeli, Milano.

2017-now Member of the Editorial Board of the journal "Psicologia Clinica dello Sviluppo", Il Mulino, Bologna.

2019-now Associate Editor of the journal "Infancy", Wiley, New Jersey, US.

Guest editor of Special issues

Sansavini A. Guarini, A., Libertus, M., Libertus, K., Benassi, M., Iverson, J. (2021). Understanding Trajectories and Promoting Change from Early to Complex Skills in Typical and Atypical Development: A Cross-Population Approach. Frontiers in Psychology.

Guarini, A., Pereira, M.P., van Baar, A., Sansavini A. (2021). Preterm Birth: Research, Intervention and Developmental Outcomes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Roch M., Sansavini A., Macchi Cassia V. (2022). The First 1000 Days of Life: Investigating Early Markers for Promoting Healthy Language Development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Reviewer and member of editorial boards

- Reviewer for international journals: Archives of Disease in Childhood;British Journal of Developmental Psychology; Child: Care, Health and Development; Child Development Research; Child Language Teaching and Therapy; Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics; Developmental Neurorehabilitation; Developmental Science; Early Human Development; Family Science; First Language; Frontiers in Psychology; Infancy; Infant and Child Development; Infant Behavior & Development; International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders; Journal of Applied Oral Science; Journal of Child Health Care; Journal of Child Language; Journal of Neuropsychology; Journal of Pediatrics; Journal of Rehabilitation Science and Research Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research; Learning and Individual Differences; Neuropsychologia; Parenting: Science and Practice; Pediatrics; Research in Developmental Disabilities; World Journal of Pediatrics; for Italian journals: Bollettino di Psicologia ApplicataEtà Evolutiva; Psicologia clinica dello sviluppo; Ricerche di Psicologia; Rivista di Psicolinguistica Applicata; for the University of Padova; for the Early Language Acquisition Conference (Lyon, 2012).

Member of Scientific Panels

2015-now Member of a national panel of experts for the Italian Consensus Conference on Developmental Language Disorder.

2016-now Member of the European Topic Expert Group on Follow-up and continuing care of the EFCNI Standards of Care for Newborn Health Project.

Member of Evaluation Committees

2015-2017 Member of the expert national panel for research quality evaluation MIUR VQR 2011-2014.

2012-2013 Reviewer for evaluation of research quality MIUR VQR 2004-2010.

2010-now Member of the Evaluation Committee for PhD theses on: Educational and Human Sciences, Verona University (2018, 2011); AIP Developmental Psychology and Education Award (2018, 2015, 2013); Early language acquisition, Université Paris Descartes, Paris (2017); Psychological Sciences, Trento University (2015); Interaction, communication and socialization, Roma La Sapienza University (2010); Reviewer for PhD theses approval: Human Sciences, Verona University, 2022, 2018; Psychology, Catholic Milano University, 2020; Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Australia, 2018; Psychological Sciences, Padova University, 2017.

Administrative role and position responsibility

Responsible role at University of Bologna

1997-now Responsible of the preterm children's neuropsychological development follow-up program in collaboration with the Unit of Neonatology of Bologna University Hospital.

2003-now Head of the Developmental Psychology Lab.

2015-now Research Delegate for the Department of Psychology.

2015-now Coordinator of the Department of Psychology Research Committee.

2016-now Responsible of a Research & Clinical Agreement with the Regional Centre of Cognitive & Language Disabilities (now IRCCS Bologna Hospital-University Agency).

2020-now Member of the University Research Evaluation Committee as representative of the psychological area.

2021-now Responsible of a Research and Clinical agreement with the Department of Medical and Surgery Sciences and the Bologna Hospital-University Agency for the preterm children's neuropsychological development follow-up program.

Member role at University of Bologna

2015-now Member of the Department of Psychology Research Quality Group.

2002-2015 Member of the Department of Psychology Research Committee.

2012-2019 Member of the Psychology Panel of the University Research Evaluation Committee.

2007-now Member of the Psychological Sciences PhD Committee.

2013-now Member of SERES (Psychological Service for Developmental Risks and Delays and Educational and School Problems), Department of Psychology.

2014- now Member of CEDEI (Centre for Studies and Research on Disability, Education and Inclusion), Department of Education.


Scientific organisations/Coordination of academic activities

Head of International scientific cooperation agreements

2014-2019 Bologna and Pittsburgh, US, Universities.

2011-2016 Bologna and Ohio State, US, Universities.

Head of Erasmus+ agreements

2016-2022 Bologna and King’s College London, UK, Universities.

2016-2020 Bologna and Haifa, IL, Universities.

2016-2023 Bologna and Rijeka, HR, Universities.