Child and Adolescent Development

Whitney Scott

Headshot of Whitney Scott
Associate Professor
Office location:
SQ 289D


After completing my undergraduate degree in Communication, I was eager to understand how this discipline overlaps with adolescent experiences. I was always questioning how children and adolescents utilize strategies for communicating with peers, particularly during conflicts. So I pursued my Ph.D. in child and adolescent development at UCSB, where I focused on social-cognitive development of adolescents. I taught courses in the Communication Department (e.g., Research Methods) and in the Teacher Credential Program (e.g., Adolescent Development). I also advised master level projects for teacher credential students earning their M.Ed. The culmination of these experiences resulted with my passion for teaching students who desire a profession working with children and adolescents.

My research bridges areas of interpersonal communication and social-cognition. My work examines how early adolescents' cognition (e.g., perceptions of blame, perspective taking) is related to communication strategies for solving interpersonal conflicts with peers. Maneuvering through conflicts can be stressful and fearful; however, these experiences shape our identity and provide us with the best opportunities to learn about ourselves. This research has enormous implications for the increased integration of conflict resolution programs into the schools.

I also have a deep personal interest in issues of gender equity particularly in the arena of sports and physical activity. Since I've experienced many benefits of being a physically active teenager and adult woman, I find it critically important that young girls have occasions to learn and participate in sports or physical activity. I was a board member of a non-profit organization that supports Federal Title IX legislation and creates opportunities for girls and women to be physically active called Body Electric.

Having strong mentors has been the single most important gift I've received in my life; therefore, my personal mission includes returning these gifts to my students and the greater community.

Recent authored contributions

Scott, W. & Lisagor, T., (2009). Learning centered universities: The changing face of higher education. Journal of Faculty Development, 23(1) 14-23.

Scott, W. (2008). Understanding early adolescents’ complex conflict resolution through judgments of responsibility and communication strategies. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 25(3), 375-400.

Scott, W. (2008). I know saying that wouldn’t fix the problem: Why early adolescents use ineffective conflict resolution strategies with peers. Presented at the bi-annual meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence. Chicago, IL.

Scott, W. (2008). Do undergraduate students really accidentally plagiarize?Poster session presented at the Annual Western Psychological Association Conference, Irvine, CA.

Scott, W., Taylor, A., & Wakefield, D. (2008). Can instructors expect students to resolve group conflicts if they don’t actively teach this skill? Conversations and strategies on actively teaching and enhancing student group conflict. Workshop to present at Western Regional Assessment Conference, California State University Fullerton, CA.

Wakefield, W. & Scott, W. (2006). Getting hired at a teaching university: Insight for graduate students. Presented at the 2006 annual meeting of American Psychological Society, New York City, NY.

Scott, W. & Martinez, E. (2005). Early adolescent conflict strategies: Perspective taking and perceived effectiveness. Presented at the 2005 annual meeting of American Psychological Society, Los Angeles, CA.

Scott, W. & Wakefield, D. (2005). I might want to work at a teaching university: Perspectives for graduate students. Presented at the 2005 annual meeting of American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Quebec.

Scott, W. (2004). How do early adolescents communicate during friendship conflicts? Presented at the 2004 annual meeting of American Psychological Society, Baltimore, MA.