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 Welcome to the Community Action-based Research Lab 

The Community Action Lab uses action-based research and process consultation models with multi-cultural, underserved, and diverse communities. Specific interests include empowerment, social justice, organizational development, and social media. Our project team uses a narrative-based and action-based method to explore how to use social media to create change for and with underserved communities.

People

  • Debra A. Harkins, Ph.D.

    Specialty Areas

    Community and Critical Psychology, Homelessness, Poverty, Culture, Race, Gender, Sexuality, Social Media, Narrative and Action based Methods.

    How does our social identity impact helping others? In what ways does our social identity disempower the disadvantaged? How can we use our social identity to empower the disadvantaged? How does race, class, gender, and sexuality intersect with teaching, research, and well-being? How can using social media create social change? My students and I are interested in exploring how these issues interact and impact individuals specifically those from underserved communities. Disadvantage takes many forms including homelessness, poverty, or prejudice toward those in a non-dominant group. Understanding the issues and needs—and giving "voice" to individuals from disadvantaged groups is one of the main goals of our project team. Since many of our critical questions are process- and community-oriented in nature, our lab draws from narrative and mixed methods, especially relying on critical psychology to inform our work. Graduate students in my lab have recently applied action-based methodology and theory to dissertation topics related to the following topics: a) empowerment within a homeless community; b) impact of researcher race on the research process; c) conflict resolution in a diverse, low-income early education community; d) team building among directors of a diverse low-income early education community; e) influence of culture on Latina's perception of depression; f) impact of parental conflict during divorce on later partner relationships; g) understanding the factors involved in repeat pregnancy; and h) the role of gender and empathy in teacher/child early education.

    Selected Publications:

    Harkins, DA. with Ray, S., Sharicz, C., Doppler-Bourassa, E., Austin, M., Ronayne, M., Mehta, C.M. Nyugen, J., and Pimentel-Eye, J.H.  2013. Beyond the Campus: Building a sustainable university-community partnership. SC: Information Age Publishing.

    Mizock, L., & Harkins, DA., with Morant, R. 2012. Researcher race: Social constructions in the research process. SC: Information Age Publishing.

    Garcia, J. & Harkins, DA. 2014. Brief report on service learning and diversity acceptance. Journal of Pedagogy and Human Science: Special Issue on Service Learning, 1-11.

    Fox-Koepke, M., Harkins, DA., & Fischer, KW. 2014.  Maintaining the mental model: An Exploratory study of dialogic processes on good teaching practice. Journal of Pedagogy and Human Science, 3(1): 1-24. 

    Jefferson, D & Harkins, DA.  2011.  "Hey, I Got a Voice Too!" Narratives of Adversity, Growth and Empowerment. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 2(3), 104-128. 

  • Megan Clapp

    I'm currently the psychology extern at the Brigham and Women's Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic.

    MA thesis title: Adapting the Developmental Analysis of Psychotherapy Process (DAPP) Framework for Clinical Practice, Consultation, and Training

    Doctoral thesis working title: Efficacy of an Emotional Literacy Program in a Men's Prison

    Recent publications and presentations:

    Bradley, S., Huynh, T., Harkins, D., & Clapp, M. (2014, February). 'The Transgender Other’: Linguistic Reception of an Identity. Paper presented at Lavender Languages and Linguistics, American University, Washington D.C.

    Bradley, S., Huynh, T., Harkins, D., & Clapp, M. (2013, October). The Transgender Other: A Computational psycholinguistic analysis of unconscious attitudes towards Transgender people. Paper presented at Psychology and Other Conference, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.

    Clapp, M., Alvarez, V., Basseches, M., & Thomas, A. (2014, April). Transforming the developmental analysis of psychotherapy process (DAPP) framework from a research method into a training and reflective practice tool for clinicians. Paper presented at the Annual International Meeting of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, Montreal, Canada.

    Clapp, M.S. (2012, June). Revising the DAPP approach.  Paper presented at the Annual International Meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research, Virginia Beach, VA, USA.

    Rapoza, K. & Clapp, M. (April, 2012). "Torture: Integrative chapter." In Malley-Morrison, K., McCarthy, S., & Hines, D. (Eds.) International Handbook on War, Torture, and Terrorism. Springer.

  • Jadig Garcia

    I am currently a fourth year student at Suffolk University's clinical psychology doctoral program. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science from Georgetown University in the spring of 2010. At Suffolk, I have served as an Outreach Fellow (2010-2013) as well as a founding member of the Graduate Student Diversity Association.  

    Based on my experiences growing up, as well as my undergraduate education, I became interested in understanding the experiences of minority and under-served individuals and how to best meet their needs. My Master's thesis focused on understanding the impact of service-learning on identity development and diversity acceptance. Service Learning, a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service, encourages a heightened sense of community, civic engagement, and personal responsibility and thus is an avenue for empowering under-served and minority communities. In addition, my experiences have led me to question the way in which culture/context can affect individuals' understanding of their experiences. As such, my dissertation focuses on understanding how culture impacts the perception of mental health among Latino/as. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the impact of acculturation on the perception of depression among Latina adolescents and their mothers. 

    In addition to research, I have worked in a variety of clinical settings, including community health centers, schools, and a VA hospital.  I have gained valuable experiences working with diverse individuals from a wide range of ages and diagnoses. Consistent with my research, I am most interested in working with under-served populations in order to empower and provide them with necessary socioemotional support. 

    Recent publications: 

    Garcia, J. & Harkins, DA. 2014. Brief report on service learning and diversity acceptance. Journal of Pedagogy and Human Science: Special Issue on Service Learning, 1-11.

Projects

 Service Learning 

Would you be surprised to learn that higher education started out with two goals---to advance knowledge and to serve society? Most of us know and experience higher education's goal of advancing knowledge but how many colleges and universities focus on the second goal? Service learning represents a pedagogical renewal of higher education's commitment to train citizens to serve society. This recommitment began about 20 years ago and now approximately 30% of higher education programs require service learning as part of their students' college curriculum. Mounting research demonstrates that service learning increases moral reasoning, moral development, academic learning, critical thinking, and transfer of in-class and out-class learning. In our own research we find that engaging in service learning increases acceptance of the "other." From our studies, we are learning more about the impact of service learning on future civic engagement, how service learning impacts students' views on social issues, how students can civically engage with communities without perpetuating inequalities, and how faculty learning communities can facilitate service learning for students.  

Social Media 

How can social media be used to create social change? Most of us use some form of social media usually to stay connected to loved ones or learn and share something new. Increasing evidence finds that profit and nonprofit organizations have not been able to use social media to create significant change in the form of increased revenue or civic engagement. From our studies, we are learning more about how to determine target audiences for profit and nonprofit organizations, what type of education campaigns increase civic participation, and how to get the voice of the underserved onto social media platforms.

References/Resources

 Resources and References

Below please find a list of recent publications with links, whenever possible, to help you locate research content. Please feel free to contact Debra Harkins (PI) for copies of papers, conference presentations, or any research materials/instruments used in our studies.

Books:

 

Mizock, L & Harkins, DA (2012)  Researcher Race: Social constructions in the research process (Advances in Cultural Psychology). SC: Information Age Publishing.

Harkins, DA with Ray, S, Sharicz, CA., Doppler-Bourassa, E., Austin, M., Ronayne, M., Mehta, CM., Nguyen, JPQ., & Pimentel-Eye, JH. (2013). Beyond the Campus; Building a sustainable university-community partnership. SC: Information Age Publishing.

Book Chapters:

Mascolo, MF, Harkins, DA., & Harakal, T. 2000. The Dynamic construction of emotion: Varieties in Anger.  In M. D. Lewis & I. Granic (Eds.). Emotions, self-organization, and development. NY: Cambridge University Press. 

Harkins, DA. 1993. Parental goals and styles of storytelling. In J. Demick, K. Bursik, and R. Dibiase (Eds.). Parental Development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Mascolo, MF, & Harkins, DA. 1998. Toward a component systems approach to emotional development.  In M. Mascolo and S. Griffin (Eds.). What Develops in Emotional Development?  NY: Plenum Press. 

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Roth, KE & Harkins, DA 2014. Parental conflict during divorce as an indicator of adjustment and future relationships:  A Retrospective sibling study. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 55(2): 117-138

Garcia, J. & Harkins, DA 2014. Brief report on service learning and diversity acceptance. Submitted to Journal of Pedagogy and Human Science: Special Issue on Service Learning. 4: 1-11

Koepke, M.F., Harkins, DA & Fischer, KW. 2013.  Maintaining the Mental Model:  An Exploratory study of dialgoic processes on good teaching practice. Journal of Pedagogy and Human Sciences.

Koepke, M. & Harkins, DA (in prep) Praxically speaking: Empathy and disconnection in the teacher-child relationship.  Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

Mizock, L., Harkins, DA & Morant, R. 2011.  Researcher interjecting in qualitative race research. Forum in Qualitative Social Research. 12(2), Art 13.

Mizock, L. & Harkins, DA. 2011. Diagnostic bias and conduct disorder: Improving culturally sensitive diagnosis. Child and Youth Services, 32(2), 243-253.

Jefferson, D & Harkins, DA. 2011.  "Hey, I Got a Voice Too!" Narratives of Adversity, Growth and Empowerment. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 2(3), 104-128.

Harkins, DA., Ray, S., & Davis, T. 2010.  Diversity consulting and teaching from a social justice perspective. Tamara Journal of Critical Organizational Inquiry, 9(4), 135-156.

Mizock, L, Harkins, DA., Ray, S, & Morant, R.  2011. Researcher race in narrative interviews on traumatic racism. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 20(1), 40-57.

Healy, S., Harkins, DA & Ray, S. 2010. Cognitive style and conflict resolution in young male college students. American Journal of Psychological Research, 6(1), 157-192. 

Austin, M., Harkins, DA., & Ronayne, M.  2010. Challenging the balancing act: Women, postmodernism and the demand to “have it all”.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 6(1), 103-133.

Ronayne, M, Harkins, DA, Austin, M, & Sharicz, C. 2010.  Power and empowerment in a non-profit organization.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 1(6), 58-88.

Dooley, CA, & Harkins, DA. 2010. Viewing contextual style in context: Cognitive style of clinicians-in-training.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 1(6), 1-9.

Jefferson, D. & Harkins, DA. 2010. Expose of the emperor:  Illusion of reverse discrimination. Journal of Unabridged Genius, 2(1), 9-22.

Harkins, DA. & Wells, Y. 2009.  Critical and discursive teaching in psychology.  Pedagogy and Human Sciences, 1(1), 39-49.

 Wells, Y. & Harkins, DA.  2009. Teaching the diversity course in conservative times.  Pedagogy and the Human Sciences, 1(1), 60-73.

Piryatinsky, I. & Harkins, DA. 2009.  Exploratory study of narrative discourse:  Russian immigrants’ mother-child storytelling in Israel and Northeast United States.  Narrative Inquiry, 19(2), 328-355.

Creedon, MT. Ray, S. & Harkins, DA. 2009.  Peer teasing, body image and eating problems among women.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 1(5), 111-130.

Bernardes, C. Ray, S. & Harkins, DA. 2009.  An Exploratory study of resilience and coping strategies among Portuguese-speaking immigrant women survivors of domestic violence.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 1(5), 81-96.

Mizock, L. & Harkins, DA. 2009. Relationship of research attitudes, racial identity and cultural mistrust.  American Journal of Psychological Research, 1(5), 31-51.

Harkins, DA. & Doppler-Bourassa, E. 2008.  Introduction to special issue:  Conflict Resolution. Early Education and Development, 19(6), 841-842. 

Fox-Koepke, M. & Harkins, DA. 2008. Conflict in the Classroom: Gender differences in the teacher-child relationship.  Early Education and Development, 19(6), 843-864.

Doppler-Bourassa , E. Harkins, DA. & Mehta, C.  2008. Emerging empowerment: Conflict resolution intervention and preschool teachers’ report of conflict behavior.  Early Education and Development, 19(6), 885-906.

Austin, M. & Harkins, DA. 2008. Shifting spaces and emerging voices:  Participation, support and conflict in one school administrative team. Early Education and Development, 19(6), 907-940.

Austin, M. & Harkins, DA. 2008. Assessing change: Can organizational learning “work” for schools?  The Learning Organization, 15(2), 105-128.

Mizock, L. & Harkins, DA. 2008. Barriers to culturally competent research:  Institutional and individual variables. The Community Psychologist, 40(4), 13-17.

Silver, C. & Harkins, DA. 2007.  Labeling, affect and teacher’s hypothetical  approaches to conflict resolution: An exploratory study. Early Education and Development, 18(4), 625-645.

Harkins, D.A. & Ray, S. 2004.  An Exploratory analysis of mother-child storytelling in East India and Northeast United States. Narrative Inquiry, 14(1), 141-161. 

Arcaro-McPhee, R. Doppler, E. and Harkins, DA. 2002.  Conflict resolution in a preschool constructivist classroom:  Case study in negotiation.  Research in Childhood Education, 17(1), 19-25.

Harkins, DA. Koch, P.E. & Michel, GF.  1994. Listening to maternal storytelling affects narrative skill of 5-year-old children.  Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(2), 247-257.

Alexander, KJ. Harkins, DA. & Michel, GF.  1994. Sex differences in parental influences on children's storytelling skills.  Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(1), 47-58. 

Alumni

  • Elizabeth Doppler-Bourassa

     Elizabeth works full time as a therapist at the Center for Expressive Arts Therapy and Education (C.R.E.A.T.E!) in Manchester, New Hampshire. Elizabeth was a doctoral graduate student who participated in the initial development and implementation stages of the project. She completed her doctoral dissertation on the empowerment of teachers in the conflict resolution process. Elizabeth contributed reflections on power issues when working with teachers (in Chapter 5—Conflict Resolution). She continues to apply her experience with conflict, power, and negotiation by serving as a Divorce Coach and Child Specialist with the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire. Collaborative Divorce is a process facilitated by a multi-disciplinary team to assist couples in negotiating respectful divorce settlements without litigation.

    Recent presentations/publications:

    Harkins, DA. with Ray, S., Sharicz, C., Doppler-Bourassa, E., Austin, M., Ronayne, M., Mehta, C.M. Nyugen, J., and Pimentel-Eye, J.H.  2013. Beyond the Campus: Building a sustainable university-community partnership. SC: Information Age Publishing.


  • Shawn Healy

    Current position: Clinical Psychologist, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers: Massachusetts Lawyer Assistance Program, Boston, MA

    MA Thesis title: Adoptive Versus Biological Parents’ Expectations of and Attributions for Their Children’s Behavior: An Exploratory Study

    Doctoral Dissertation title: The Battle Within: The Role of Cognitive Style in the Conflict Resolution Strategies of Male College Students

    Internship: May Institute, Inc.

    Post-doctoral training: May Institute, Inc.

    Recent publications: 

    Healy, S., Harkins, D., & Ray, S. (2010). Battle Within: Role of Cognitive Style in Conflict Resolution Strategies of Male College Students. American Journal of Psychological Research, August, 6 (1) 157-192.


  • Lauren Mizock

    Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Worcester State University, 

    MA Thesis title: Making sexual health counseling more accessible to African American women.

    Doctoral Dissertation title: Cross-racial researcher-participant dyads: The impact of race on the research process.

    Internship: Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology, Boston Medical Center, Boston University 

    Post-doctoral training: Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University, Research Fellowship on Serious Mental Illness

    Recent publications: 

    Mizock, L., Russinova, Z., & Millner, U. (In press). Acceptance of mental illness: Core components of a multifaceted construct. Psychological Services.

    Mizock, L., Russinova, Z., & Millner, U. (In press). Barriers and facilitators to the acceptance process for individuals with mental illness. Qualitative Health Review. 

    Mizock, L., Harrison, K., & Russinova, Z. (In press). Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Individuals with Mental Illness: Narratives of the Acceptance Process. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health.

    Mizock, L., & Russinova, Z. (2013). Cultural factors in the process of  acceptance among individuals with serious mental illnesses. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 56(4), 229-239.

    Mizock, L., & Harrison, K. (2014). Ageism and aging among older adults with mental illness. Cultural Sociology of Mental Illness, Andrew Scull (Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Michelle Ronayne

    Current: Fee-for-service Nova Psychiatric; Adjunct faculty- Southern New Hampshire University

    MA Thesis Title: Some Relations Among Planning and Personality

    Doctoral Dissertation Title: The Role of Power in Organizational Development

    Internship: The Center for Community Counseling and Education, Walpole, MA

    Post-doctoral training: Nova Psychiatric 

    Recent publications:

    Harkins, DA. with Ray, S., Sharicz, C., Doppler-Bourassa, E., Austin, M., Ronayne, M., Mehta, C.M. Nyugen, J., and Pimentel-Eye, J.H.  2013. Beyond the Campus: Building a sustainable university-community partnership. SC: Information Age Publishing.