Spotlight
"My scholarly work blends basic research with an applied focus aimed at addressing real world problems."
mahoney_j
Joseph Mahoney
Associate Professor

Irvine, Calif., September 1, 2010

Joseph L. Mahoney, Ph.D., joined the Department of Education as an Associate Professor in July, 2007. Trained as a developmental psychologist, his research focuses on social/educational development for school-age children and adolescents. In recent years, his research has been concerned with the developmental consequences related to how young people spend their out-of-school time. Prior to joining the faculty at UCI, Prof. Mahoney was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of psychology at Yale University during 1999-2007.

Professor Mahoney's work blends basic research with an applied focus aimed at addressing real world problems concerned with how best to organize out-of-school time for young people. To this end, he engages in a variety of research, practical, and policy-oriented activities. For example, one of his research projects is the study of Consequences of Summertime for Adolescent Development. This project is supported by a 3-year grant from the NICHD and, as the title suggests, the principle aim is to understand the associated consequences of various summertime activities for adolescents’ educational, psychosocial, and physical development. Recent studies from his research lab examined how summer care arrangements (e.g., parent care, self care, and organized activities like sports) relate to the development of child obesity, psychosocial wellbeing, and parental knowledge about adolescent whereabouts, affiliates, and leisure pursuits. Related work has looked into the so-called “summer slide” in achievement. The “slide” refers to the tendency for poor children to lose academic ground over the summer months. In this work, the linkages between children’s involvement in academic-related activities during the summer (e.g., reading) and the development of academic achievement from childhood through adolescence are examined.

Professor Mahoney also serves as the Director of the UCI Department of Education’s Certificate in After-school Education (CASE) program. Although research shows that after-school program quality and related outcomes are tied to the competencies of adult staff, there are presently few opportunities for formal education or training systems in America to help program staff gain the competencies they need to become providers of high quality programming. Accordingly, with assistance through generous support from UC Links, the CASE program was launched in fall 2008 with the long-term goal of better preparing after-school educators to promote positive youth development. To earn a certificate, students must complete five quarter-long (10-week) courses that combine classroom instruction with at least 70 hours of hands-on experience working in local after-school programs under the supervision of experienced leaders. To date more than 2,000 UCI students have completed CASE coursework and provided over 12,000 hours of service to after-school programs across Orange County. Early evaluation findings indicate that the CASE program may promote civic engagement among college students and offers significant support to after-school programs’ efforts to provide quality service.

Professor Mahoney is involved in several activities that help connect research on out-of-school time with practical and policy decision-making. For example, he is serving a four-year appointment on the Society for Research in Child Development’s Policy and Communication Committee. During the past year he was invited to present his research to both a special Senate Hearing on summertime and a meeting of the CA State Department of Education. This fall, Professor Mahoney will serve as one of two American researchers invited to represent the United States at the International Conference on Out-of-school Time at University of Giessen, Germany.