College of Behavioral & Social Sciences

BA in Child Development

Faculty Research Interests

  • Professor Shelly Hart

    Shelly Hart

    1. Mood disorders, particularly early-onset (pediatric) bipolar disorder.
    2. Suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, particularly in the child, adolescent, and young adult populations.
    3. The educational success of students experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges.
    4. Illuminating protective factors inherent in high-risk individuals to promote successful life experiences.
    5. Latent variable modeling and longitudinal analyses; using person-centered statistical models to evaluate life processes.

    The following is a brief discussion of active research projects Dr. Hart has ongoing at this time. This list is not necessarily exhaustive, and the opportunity to develop a research project with Dr. Hart is typically an option. Feel free to bring any topics to her at any time.

    • Psychological Wellbeing in Middle and High School Students

      This study was initially aimed at exploring disordered eating attitudes and mindfulness; however, many variables are available, allowing for the pursuit of many different research questions. Examples include (but are not limited to) optimism, gratitude, peer support, emotion regulation, positive affect, disordered eating attitudes, and mindfulness. Data collection has concluded on this study resulting in n=420 sixth through twelfth grade students; therefore, activities might include exploring the variables available and conducting a literature review to develop research questions.

    • Preschool Project—Mindfulness in Early Childhood

      This project is working with a local preschool (ASCDL) to support and evaluate the incorporation of the MindUp curriculum. This project’s overall goals include evaluation of implementation of the curriculum by the teachers, creation and provision of resources for parents, and exploration of ways to evaluate the implementation or development of research questions (e.g., what mindfulness strategies do teachers find most salient for preschool students or are mindfulness techniques effective in reducing aggression in early childhood). Data is currently being collected, and therefore, the student would be included in that phase of the project, as well as investigating the use-ability of such a curriculum in that setting. Additionally, activities related to evaluation of MindUP being the “best” curriculum for ASCDL will also occur through program development discussions.

    • Enhancing Coping within Courses—Mindfulness in a College Curriculum

      This project is currently being implemented in a lower division undergraduate course. The goal is to incorporate mindfulness and other coping skill-building activities into the first five to ten minutes of class to promote psychological thriving in college students. Activities for the Honors student might include development of IRB/HS documents, identification of surveys (e.g., variables) to include in a pre- and post-test research intervention design, refinement of activities (e.g., gratitude, visualization) and data management in SPSS.

    • Risk and Resilience (Adverse Childhood Experiences—ACE’s)

      This is a very broad and loose research area at this time, but something of great interest. Several options might include i) participation in a manuscript being prepared related to risk and resilience (aka toxic stress), ii) assistance in accumulating materials to be used in the development of coursework for a risk and resilience course being proposed by Dr. Hart, iii) to include specific risk and resilience variables (e.g., ACEs) in the project mentioned in c—Enhancing Coping within Courses—in order to specifically address this topic.

    • Upstream Suicide Prevention through Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

      There is a new research opportunity Dr. Hart is developing with a curriculum called Camp Make Believe/Step-Up. The developer of this curriculum has data and is looking to collaborate with researchers to examine the data. This project is in the early stages of development and currently includes validation efforts regarding one “step” of the curriculum, “Manipulative Behaviors”, which might offer an Honor’s student with literature review, data management and analyses, grant writing, and presentation opportunities. However, additional studies are being developed that will include universal implementation in a school (students N=750) in Las Vegas and Kern County (districts N=57).

  • Professor Gail Walton

    Gail Walton

    1. The development of perfectionism
    2. Gender differences in perfectionism
    3. Parenting variables that predict perfectionism
    4. Personality variables that predict perfectionism
    5. Cross cultural influences on perfectionism and academic achievement
    6. Emotional development in young children
  • Professor Diana Shepherd

    Diana Shepherd

    1. Parent-child attachment relationships: school age, adolescence, and young adults
    2. Adolescent and young adult sources of social support, emotional intelligence, and wellbeing
    3. Parenting behaviors and developmental parenting.
    4. Children's subjective well-being, self-esteem, self-concept, and resiliency
    5. Father involvement, attachment, and generative fathering
    6. Childhood trauma and attachment
  • Professor Shrija Dirghangi

    Shrija Dirghangi

    1. Assessing the impact of Bringing Baby Home parent workshop on couples’ relationship after child birth and parent child relationship.
    2. Implementing coping skill related interventions (Women’s Circles) enabling emerging adults transition to college life successfully
    3. Implementing coping skill related interventions (Girl’s Circles) enabling adolescent girls make better mental and physical health choices.
    4. Adolescent well-being in relation to peer relationships
    5. Adolescent well-being in the school setting, with a focus on bullying and victimization.
    6. Adolescent experiences of cyberbullying and intervention efforts
    7. Impact of Peers on healthy and unhealthy eating habits/body image development 
    8. Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Adolescents’ and Emerging Adults’ Mental Health Outcomes such as Identity and Interpersonal Styles Development