The American Psychological Association (APA) Division 16 (Division of School Psychology) has presented Maggie Chan with its 2023 Outstanding Dissertation Award. Chan’s dissertation is titled “School Diversity and Students’ Psychosocial Experiences.” Each year Division 16 presents an Outstanding Dissertation in School Psychology Award to a school psychology student who has completed a dissertation that merits special recognition and has the potential to contribute to the science and practice of school psychology.

Schools and communities are increasingly diverse; it is critical to understand diversity’s impact in school, including how diversity relates to students’ psychosocial experiences and who are thriving or not in a high diversity context, to inform practices that support students in a culturally diverse school environment. This dissertation, built upon the cultural-ecological theory and intersectionality, assessed school diversity’s relations with students’ psychosocial experiences using a sample of California public school students. Considering the limited number of diversity measures, which show inadequacy in measuring dual-concept diversity in educational research, this dissertation also discussed the operationalization of dual-concept diversity in mathematical expressions. Three studies were structured. Study 1 used latent profile analysis to explore school diversity profiles indicated by students’ racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity and teachers’ racial/ethnic diversity among California public schools, followed by multilevel multigroup analysis to assess the profiles’ relations with two indicators of psychosocial experiences (i.e., race-based victimization and school connectedness) across four racial/ethnic groups. Study 2 discussed concerns about using the existing diversity measures and operationalizations of three distinct diversity concepts: normic, dual-concept, and representative. Additionally, it proposed alternative mathematical expressions to capture dual-concept diversity and underscored some of the conceptual ambiguities of current research in measuring and applying diversity concepts. Study 3 integrated intersectionality to understand how students’ psychosocial experiences related to teacher, student, and socioeconomic diversity differently by gender x race/ethnicity. Study 3 was an extension of Study 2, which applied the newly proposed dual-concept diversity measures in multilevel regression analysis. The presentation will discuss practical implications for fostering psychosocial experiences in a diverse school context.

Maggie Chan will receive her Ph.D. from the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology this June. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and teaching credential in Hong Kong. Her research interests include school mental health, with a particular focus on the role of contextual factors in the school system, interpersonal relationships, individual characteristics, and their interactions contributing to the social-emotional development and school experiences of students and teachers. She just completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Hawaii Psychology Internship Consortium.

Maggie Chan