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  • Students from Dr. Otten's Lab

Gabriela Chavira

Gabriela Chavira
Associate Professor
(818) 677-4821
Office location:
ST 325



  • Ph.D. 2005, University of California, Santa Cruz (Developmental Psychology)
  • B.A. 1994, California State Universtiy, Northridge (Psychology and Mexican American Studies)

Specialty Areas: Developmental Psychology, Family Involvement, Identity development, Academic Achievement

Courses Taught

  • Psy 313/L – Developmental Psychology and Lab
  • Psy 150 – Introduction to Psychology

Selected Publications and Presentations

Cooper, C. R., Chavira, G., & Mena, D. D. (2005). From Pipelines to Partnerships: A Research Synthesis on How Diverse Families, Schools, and Communities Support Children’s Pathways through School. Journal for Students Placed at Risk. 10,407–430

Cooper, C., R., Dominguez, E., Azmitia, M., Holt, E., Mena, D., & Chavira, G. (2005). Staying on the path toward college: One boy at the crossroads. In H. B. Weis, H. Kreider, M. E. Lopez & C. M. Chatman (Eds.) Preparing Educators to Involve Families: From Theory to Practice. New York: Sage.

Cooper, C. R., Brown, J., Azmitia, M., & Chavira, G. (2005). Mexican immigrant families, schools, community programs, and el buen camino – the good path of life. In T. Weisner (Ed.), Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development : Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Cooper, C. R., Dominguez, E., Azmitia, M, Holt, E., Mena, D, & Chavira, G.
(2005). Case 7: Staying on the path toward college. In H. B. Weiss, H. Kreider, M. E. Lopez, & C. M. Chatman (Eds.), Preparing educators to involve families: From theory to practice, (pp. 80-88. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Technical Reports:

Cooper, C. R., Chavira, G., & Mikolyski, D. (2002). Parallel designs: Longitudinal analyses of students’ pathways to college through outreach programs at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. Oakland, CA: Technical Report, University of California Office of the President Panel on Evaluation of Academic Outreach Programs The capacity of California to be a state “where diversity works” rests on customizing university outreach for local communities, aligning with local and statewide goals for inclusion of all students, all while helping students strive to achieve competitive eligibility for UC. This is enhanced by partnerships among education stakeholders – K-18 schools, community organizations, legislators, the private sector, media, families, and students themselves. To contribute to such partnerships, this study of outreach programs at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz engaged researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, outreach staff, and outreach students in longitudinal analyses of key factors in students’ pathways to college. We examined students’ demographics, math pathways, resources and challenges across the worlds of families, schools, peers, communities, outreach programs, and career and college identities.

Research and Interests

My research focuses on how ethnically diverse youth develop personal identities by coordinating cultural and family traditions with schools and communities. I am interested in the role that families continue to play during adolescence in ethnically diverse students’ academic achievement and identity development.My current project, Pathways to College, examines how families, schools, and students contribute to the goals and school achievement of Latino and other diverse middle school students in 8th grade college-prep and regular math classes. College has become more important in the U.S. as it changes from an industrial to a knowledge economy. Yet, as students move along the academic pipeline from pre-kindergarten to college, many low-income, ethnic minority, and immigrant youth leave school before high school graduation. For example, many Latino students come from low-income, immigrant families who often lack educational experiences and face language barriers in helping their children academically and may lack information about college. Research shows that students do better academically and have positive school attitudes and higher aspirations when their parents are involved in their children’s education. What we need to know now is how Latino students and their families support positive school pathways during middle school, when students begin to exceed their parents’ educational level.