Faculty and students in the developmental concentration study developmental change in social behavior, cognition, language, and emotions from childhood through early adulthood. Our research is guided by a cultural-developmental perspective, and focuses on how the interaction between individual attributes and environmental influences shapes developmental trajectories.
I. Core Faculty
Dr. Brandy Frazier, Assistant Professor, has research interests that focus on investigating how cognitive development unfolds in everyday contexts. She is particularly interested in understanding how children acquire knowledge, how they build theories, and how they come to appreciate the world around them. The current research in Dr. Frazier’s lab is focused around four main themes: 1) how children use everyday conversations and interactions with adults as a source of causal, explanatory knowledge; 2) how parents explain the importance of safety to their children; 3) how parent-child interactions influence children’s eating behaviors and willingness to eat vegetables; and 4) how children and adults come to appreciate and attach value to objects of personal, public, and historical significance – objects we consider “authentic.” Dr. Frazier and the students in her lab use a variety of methodologies to investigate these research topics, including parental surveys/interviews, structured lab-based observations of parent-child conversation/interaction, and collection of both closed-ended and open-ended experimental data with children at local preschools and elementary schools.
Dr. Ashley Maynard, Professor, has research interests that include the interrelationships of culture, the contexts of child development, and the healthy cognitive and social development of children. She is interested in cultural settings at nested levels of development: from cultural values and economics in the macrosystem down to children’s microsystem interactions. Dr. Maynard has conducted studies in Hawai'i and at her international field site, Nabenchauk, a Zinacantec Maya hamlet located in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The domains of her research cover: (1) the developmental trajectory of children's teaching abilities; (2) the interacting roles of culture and cognitive tools (e.g., books, media, weaving tools) in the development of thinking; (3) the impact of historical change and changing cultural models on child socialization; and the (4) the role of siblings in cognitive and social development. Students in Dr. Maynard’s lab have the opportunity to learn research skills including research design, data collection, transcribing and coding video using a digital media system (vPrism), writing manuscripts, and giving research presentations. Current graduate student projects include: the experiences of students in Hawaiian language immersion programs; the development of moral decision making; the daily routines of at-risk youth in an afterschool program; and the cultural niche of child street vendors in San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico. The major aims of the lab group are to extend theoretical and methodological underpinnings of psychology as a field and to extend the results of various research programs across cultural groups. Undergraduate students work together with me and the graduate students to produce research that meets these aims.
Dr. Catherine Sophian, Professor, has research interests that focus on early cognitive development, particularly on understanding the developmental relations between earlier and later forms of knowledge. She is particularly interested in how children's understanding of mathematical concepts develops, both through informal (i.e., outside of school) activities and interactions and through school instruction. Current research projects address children's and adults' understanding of fraction magnitudes, and the processes by which children and adults compare large numerical quantities. Dr. Sophian’s research has been funded by grants from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and from the Spencer Foundation. Most of the research she and her students conduct involves working one-on-one with children at various schools around Oahu. Other studies use computer software (Superlab Pro) to precisely control stimulus presentations and/or to collect response-time measures.
Dr. Yiyuan Xu, Associate Professor and Concentration Coordinator, has research interests that include shyness and social withdrawal, violence in school peer groups (aggression and peer victimization), acculturation, ethnic identity, and adjustment of immigrant children, and children’s peer relationships in varying cultural contexts. Currently, students in Dr. Xu’s lab are working on three projects, (1) Early schooling of immigrant children. This project examines how home environment contributes to Asian immigrant children’s transition to kindergarten in Hawai'i. The data is collected using parents’ report, teachers’ rating, and one-on-one assessment with immigrant children at public schools. (2) Shyness and self-esteem among Asian, Asian American, and European American late adolescents. Collaborating with colleague from University of Tokyo, Japan, and Sun Yat-sen University, China, this project examines how the relation between shyness and explicit and implicit self-esteem is mediated by culture. The data is collected using both surveys and computerized tests in the laboratory (Inquisit 2.0). (3) Social Functioning and Adjustment of Asian and Asian American Children. Collaborating with colleague from East China Normal University, China, and The Catholic University of Korea, Korea, this project examines how temperament, family environment, and school context contribute to adjustment of Asian and Asian American children. The data is collected using a multi-informant approach (parents’ report, teachers’ rating, peer nomination, children’s self-report, laboratory observation, and psycho-physiological assessment).
II. Affiliate Faculty
Dr. Kristin Pauker, Assistant Professor, became fascinated with exploring how a person’s immediate environment and culturally-shaped theories about race impact basic social perception, social interactions, and stereotyping in childhood and throughout development. Her research spans both Social and Developmental Psychology and has been featured in journals including Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Developmental Psychology. Currently, her work is supported by a Pathway to Independence Award from NICHD and a NSF grant.
Concentration Specific Requirements
In addition to their research endeavors, students are expected to pursue an individualized program of study, through coursework, directed readings, and other professional avenues that provide a broad foundation for the developmental inquiry reflected in their research. These individualized programs of study, to be planned in consultation with the faculty advisor and concentration faculty, should combine coursework within developmental psychology with courses in other sub-disciplines (e.g., cognitive or social psychology) and disciplines (e.g., linguistics or education) that are related to the student's principal research interests.
I. M.A. Degree Developmental Concentration Coursework
In addition to the general M.A. degree coursework requirements, master’s level students in developmental psychology are expected to complete the following courses:
- PSY 640: Foundations of Developmental Psychology (also counts as a core departmental course)
- PSY 642: Cognitive Development
- PSY 741: Seminar in Developmental Psychology (may be taken more than once)
- PSY 749: Research in Developmental Psychology (students are expected to enroll in research hours during each semester throughout their graduate education)
II. Ph.D. Degree Developmental Concentration Coursework
Candidates seeking a Ph.D. degree within the developmental concentration are also expected to take at least one course from each core faculty member.
- Complete at least one additional course or seminar in developmental psychology.
- Complete at least one course in another area of psychology that relates to the candidates developmental interests.
Ph.D. Degree Developmental Concentration Comprehensive Examination
All doctoral students are required to complete the Comprehensive Examination before proposing their dissertation. It is recommended that students complete the Comprehensive Examination within two years after being advanced to candidacy. The Comprehensive Examination requires the demonstration of a mastery of a range of topics within the student’s area of special interest.
I. Comprehensive Examination Guidelines
In consultation with their advisors, students may choose to submit:
- One long paper (50-60 pages) or
- Two short papers (25-30 pages each), depending on the scope of the topic(s).
- The paper(s) should be in the form of a final submission rather than a draft.
II. Comprehensive Examination Grading
Note: Paper(s) will be read and evaluated as “pass” or “fail” by two faculty members. One faculty member must be the student's research advisor. The other faculty member will be asked to join after the student and the advisor discuss who might be the best match for the topic(s). If a paper is judged to be a “fail,” by either faculty member, the student will have one opportunity to submit a revision within six weeks. The student may seek comments from or consult with faculty members after receiving a “fail”. However, Students may not request or receive comments on preliminary drafts of comprehensive examination papers prior to submitting them for pass/fail evaluation.