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My research integrates psychological, sociological, and cultural approaches in studying factors that influence the positive academic, social, and psychological adjustment of Black adolescents and emerging adults. A primary focus is on how educational settings, families, and communities influence the development of youths’ social identities (for instance, their racial, ethnic, gender, and social class identities), and how youths’ social identities relate to how they strive for and attain academic, social, and other personal goals.


My research team is committed to the development of research and scholarship that describes and documents the experiences of Black youth and that is informed by knowledge of their rich social, cultural, and historical  backgrounds.  In doing so, we present a picture of youth that acknowledges their vast diversity, their personal strengths and assets, and the unique risk factors they may face as members of their racial/ethnic group. Equally important is our focus on resources youth draw on - personal strengths and characteristics as well as resources from family, peers, community, and culture - that help them thrive, adapt, and be resilient despite these risks and challenges.

Research Topics

Racial identity in adolescence & early adulthood 


Diversity climates in secondary and higher education settings


Academic identity and motivation


Race and gender identity in achievement


Discrimination & stigma impacts on achievement and well-being


Racial socialization in school, family, & community contexts

What is “Achievement in Context?”
  • My team and I think of “achievement” broadly -  it can refer to academic development outcomes such as learning and mastery within and across subject areas; academic success outcomes such as school grades, test performance, high school graduation and higher education and employment attainment, as well as motivation outcomes, such as youths’ academic self-efficacy and competence beliefs, feelings of connectedness to their educational settings, educational values, and academic and occupational aspirations.


  • In addition, we think of “achievement” as youth meeting their personal potential in other life areas.  So, our view of achievement includes positive social and psychological adjustment, such as healthy identity development, social competence, personal well-being and life satisfaction, positive family and peer relationships, and engagement in pro-social behaviors such as community involvement, civic and political participation, leadership, and helping behaviors.


  • “Achievement in Context” reflects our team philosophy that youth outcomes can be best understood by considering the influences of the multiple contexts in which youth reside.  Thus, while we focus most centrally on the roles and impacts of schools and educational institutions in our work, we also consider the equally important roles of families (parents, caregivers, siblings, and other family members), peers, and neighborhoods and communities in promoting positive youth development. 

What's New
AIC Research News

AIC Lab members to present at national conferences in spring 2018:

--Biennial conference of the Society for Research on Adolescence (April 2018, Minneapolis, MN)

--Annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (April 2018, New York, NY)

Tabbye M. Chavous, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

"A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people."

— Frederick Douglass

"Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."

— Marian Wright Edelman

"We must change the system of education and instruction. Unfortunately, history has shown us that brotherhood must be learned, when it should be natural."

— Josephine Baker

"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations."

— Dr. Mae Jemison

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