Community Action-Based Research Lab

The Community Action-Based Research Lab at Suffolk University uses action-based research and process consultation models with multicultural, 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. 

Dr. Harkins

To learn more about Dr. Harkins and her work, please visit her faculty page.

Current Research 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 & Materials

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 dialogic 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.

Current Graduate Students

I am a fourth-year clinical psychology student in Debra Harkins' lab at Suffolk University. After graduating from The College of New Jersey in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology, I was excited to continue my academics with such an amazing program here in Boston. Working with Debra has enabled me to pursue social justice research topics that aim to have actionable implications for creating change. My ERP examined ways through which non-profit organizations can best increase their impact using social media. This investigation into the use of social media has continued into my dissertation, where I seek to understand the ways in which cyber harassment affects women at individual, relational, and systemic levels.

Aside from my dissertation research, I currently work as a policy intern with the National Alliance for Mental Illness - NJ Chapter, where I support research efforts for program efficacy studies. I also volunteer with the National Prevention Science Coalition, focusing on their Research to Policy Collaboration (RPC). As an RPC Intern, I research strategies for connecting government offices with research-based expertise to advance the implementation of evidence-based prevention practices into public policies.

Research Interests

Feminism; social media; non-profit organizations; program development & efficacy; advocacy; translating research to public policy

Publications

Athineos, C. & Kozak, K. (2017, December 17). Deconstructing gender and sexual identity. In D. Harkins (Ed.), Alongside community: Learning in service. London, England: Routledge

Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2017, June). Using social media for social change. Ignite PowerPoint presentation presented at Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, Ottawa, Canada.

Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2017, May). Harassment of women online. Cross-Cutting Theme Poster – Doing the Most for the Many: Psychological Scientists who Inform Public Policies presented at Annual Convention for the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.

Grenier, L., Kozak, K., Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2017, May). The politics of intersectionality: How post-election climate impacts students’ voice and wellbeing. Student-only discussion held at National Conference of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, Chicago, IL.

Athineos, C., Grenier, L., Kozak, K., Harkins, D. (2017, March). The glass ceiling: Battling gender stereotypes in women’s leadership. Round-table discussion held at Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Milwaukee, WI.

Athineos, C., Kaitz, J.E., Kozak, K., Ray, S., Harkins, D. (2016, March). Looking beyond one size fits all: A student-led discussion on intersectionality in feminism. 60-minute structured discussion held at Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Pittsburgh, PA.

Kozak, K., Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2016, March). A round-table on service learning: Strengths and challenges. Round-table discussion held at Annual Society for Community Research and Action Northeast Regional Conference of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.

Athineos, C. (2015, November 13). Bringing Freire back to the forefront. [Review of the book Pedagogy, oppression, and transformation in a ‘post-critical’ climate: The return of Freirean thinking, by O'Shea, & O'Brien (Ed.)]. Pedagogy and the Human Sciences. 4(1).

Kaitz, J.E., Athineos, C., Harkins, D., Ray, S. (2015, June). Service learning in psychology: A graduate student perspective. Poster session presented at Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, Lowell, MA.

I am a second-year clinical psychology doctoral student in Debra Harkins' Community Action-Based Research Lab at Suffolk University. I graduated from Siena College in 2016 with a BA in psychology, where I worked with multiple service groups to promote social justice. I was excited to continue this line of work in Debra’s lab. For my ERP, I am currently working on an exploratory study of a pilot service-learning mentoring program. This program enables mentoring support at all levels of a service-learning project.

In addition to working in Dr. Harkins lab, I am also a practicum student at Judge Baker Children Center’s Manville School, a graduate fellow in the Career Development Center working with the Ram Alumni Mentoring Program, and employed at McLean Hospital as a Mental Health Specialist.

Research Interests

Social justice, service-learning, peer-to-peer mentoring, empowerment of marginalized communities.

Publications

Grenier, L. I., Athineos, C.A., Kozak, K. J., Harkins, D. A. (2017, May). The politics of intersectionality: How post-election climate impacts students’ voice and well-being.Presented at the national conference for Bringing Theory to Practice, Chicago, IL.

Grenier, L. I., Kozak, K. J., Harkins, D. A. (2017, March). Service-Learning in higher education: Developing civic-mindedness in students. Poster session presented at the spring conference of Boston Area Research Initiative, Boston, MA.

Athineos, C., Grenier, L., Kozak, K., Harkins, D. (2017, March). The glass ceiling: Battling gender stereotypes in women’s leadership. Round-table discussion held at Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Milwaukee, WI.

My name is Kathryn Kozak and I am a fifth-year graduate student transitioning into the Applied Developmental Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. I grew up about a half hour south of Boston and came back for grad school, having completed my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at George Washington University in 2011. My research takes a social justice approach and centers around themes of identity, gender, civic engagement, and activism.

My ERP explored students' perceptions of personal and academic growth following a semester-long service-learning course, which integrates community service into an academic class. engagementMy dissertation is looking at civic engagement from another angle, and uses an applied intervention to explore the developmental and psychosocial mechanisms involved in voting behaviors.

Research interests

Gender identity; LGBTQ+ identity; feminism; empowerment; civic engagement; advocacy; activism

Publications

Harkins, D.A., Kozak, K.J., & Ray, S. (2018). Service-Learning: A Case study in student outcomes. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement.

Athineos, C. & Kozak, K.J. (2017, December 17). Deconstructing gender and sexual identity. In D. Harkins (Ed.), Alongside community: Learning in service. London, England: Routledge

Kozak, K.J.& Harkins, D. A. (2017, October). Waves of feminism as expressed through women's narratives. Poster presented at the annual conference of Psychology and the Other, Cambridge, MA.

Kozak, K.J. & Harkins, D.A. (2017, June). Service-Learning that works: The role of student support. Ignite PowerPoint presentation presented at Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, Ottawa, Canada.

Grenier, L., Kozak, K.J., Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2017, May). The politics of intersectionality: How post-election climate impacts students’ voice and wellbeing.Student-only discussion held at National Conference of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project, Chicago, IL.

Kozak, K.J. & Harkins, D.A. (2017, April). Faculty Perspectives on Service-Learning.Roundtable presented at New England Educational Research Organization Annual Conference: Portsmouth, NH.

Grenier, L.I., Kozak, K.J., Harkins, D.A. (2017, March). Service-Learning in higher education: Developing civic-mindedness in students. Paper session presented in the spring conference of Boston Area Research Initiative, Boston, MA.

Kozak, K.J. & Harkins, D.A. (2017, March 4). Empowering Women Faculty in Service-Learning. Roundtable presented at Association for Women in Psychology Annual Conference: What Color is Your Collar? Milwaukee, WI.

Kozak, K.J. (2017). Introducing Critical Pedagogies, Deepening Service-Learning Practices. Pedagogy and the Human Sciences, 6(1).

Kozak, K.J. (2016). Building Solidarity for Women Faculty in Higher Education. Pedagogy and the Human Sciences, 6(1).

Athineos, C., Kaitz, J.E., Kozak, K.J., Ray, S., Harkins, D. (2016, March). Looking beyond one size fits all: A student-led discussion on intersectionality in feminism. 60-minute structured discussion held at Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Pittsburgh, PA.

Kozak, K.J., Athineos, C., Harkins, D. (2016, March). A round-table on service learning: Strengths and challenges. Round-table discussion held at Annual Society for Community Research and Action Northeast Regional Conference of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.



Interested in joining the lab?

Graduate Students: To see if Dr. Harkins is currently accepting students, check the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program Admissions page.

Undergraduate Students: Any juniors and seniors who are interested in joining the lab should email Dr. Harkins. She also takes on students who are interested in pursuing PSYCH-510 courses.