Omar Ruvalcaba

Professor Ruvalcaba
Associate Professor
(818) 677-2827
Office location:
ST 305



Ph.D. 2015, University of California, Santa Cruz (Developmental Psychology)
B.A. 2006, University of California, Los Angeles (Minors in Education and Chicana/o Studies)

Courses Taught

PSY 321 - Research Methods in Psychology
Psy 475 CC - Cultural Contexts of Development
PSY 512 - Seminar in Developmental Psychology


Developmental Psychology (childhood)
Sociocultural Psychology
Collaborative Learning
Computer Science Learning
Mixed Methods

**Currently accepting new research assistants. Use the following link to apply:

Selected Publications

Robnett, R. D., Ruvalcaba, O., Syed, M., and Chemers. M. M. (2016, in press). Turning points in the pursuit of STEM careers: A mixed-methods analysis focusing on Women of Color. In Girls and Women of Color in STEM: Navigating the Double Bind.

Ruvalcaba, O., Werner, L., Denner, J. (2016). Observations of pair programming: Variations in collaboration across demographic groups. Proceedings published in 2016 Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education, 90-95.

Ruvalcaba, O., Rogoff, B., López, A., Correa-Chávez, M., & Gutiérrez, K. (2015). Children’s considerateness of other’s activities: Respeto in requests for help. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 49, 185-202. 

López, A., Ruvalcaba, O., & Rogoff, B. (2014). Attentive Helping Without Being Asked

as a Cultural Practice of Mexican-Heritage Families. In Y.M. Caldera & E. Lindsey (Eds.), Handbook of Mexican American children and families: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 76-91). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Coppens, A. D., Silva, K. G., Ruvalcaba, O., Alcalá, L., López, A., Rogoff, B. (2014). Learning by observing and pitching in: Benefits and processes of expanding repertoires. Human Development, 57(2–3), 150–161.


Selected Presentations

Ruvalcaba, O. & Rogoff, B. (2016, June). Cultural patterns in children’s helping behaviors while coding. Presented at the Jean Piaget Society Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.

Ruvalcaba, O. & Rogoff, B. (2016, April). Differences in Mexican- and European-American children’s collaboration during computer programming. Presented at the Western Psychological Association Conference. Long Beach, CA.

Ruvalcaba, O., Werner, L., &  Denner, J. (2016, March). Observations of pair programming: Variations in Collaboration Across Demographic Groups. Presented at the ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. Memphis, TN.

Ruvalcaba, O. (2015, June). Digital media and culture in collaborative spaces. Los Angeles, CA. Presented at Digital Media Learning Conference. Los Angeles, CA.

Ruvalcaba, O. & Rogoff, B. (2014, May). Mexican- and European-heritage children’s collaboration during a computer programming activity. Presented at the meeting of Jean Piaget Society. San Francisco, CA.

Ruvalcaba, O. (2013, April). More than one way to participate: Mexican-heritage and European-heritage university student approaches to classroom participation. Presented at the meeting of American Education Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

Ruvalcaba, O. (2012, April). ¿Quieres chatear? Chatting as a space for the development of hybrid cultural practices. Presented at the meeting of American Education Research Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Ruvalcaba, O. (2012, April). Computer-based collaboration in middle school: A socio-cultural perspective on pair programming with Mexican-heritage and European-heritage students. Presented at the meeting of American Education Research Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



In my research, I focus on the relationships between culture and the process of computer science learning. It is my goal to better understand how Latina/o children, adolescents, and emerging adults draw on their cultural strengths (such as experience with flexible collaborative approaches) to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). I am currently working on research that focuses on the experiences of underrepresented students in computer science (Latina/os and women) and possible mental health repercussions of pursuing a stem degree as an underrepresented student. 

I expect to accept one graduate student next year interested in social justice and equity and eSports/video games or first-generation students' experiences. As a graduate student, you will gain expertise primarily in qualitative methods. Graduate students in the lab will gain essential skills to prepare them for Ph.D. programs such as presenting at conferences, conducting interviews & focus groups, developing protocols, transcription, leading teams of undergraduate students, and analyzing qualitative data.

I am committed to understanding social justice approaches to research. My lab has recently focused on learning and implementing critical and liberation psychology approaches at the theoretical and methodological level. These are popular methods used by community psychologists. 

Currently, there are two current strands of work I'm focusing on in my lab:

  1. eSports and Video Games - In this line of work, I focus on issues related to equity in experiences during online gaming. In my previous work, I studied women's experience with harassment during online gaming. I'm currently exploring how gender influences the perception of women's gaming abilities and gamer's views of racism in online gaming. Other possible study areas include understanding gaming culture norms and content analysis of the representation of different ethnic and gender groups in games. 
  2. Social Justice Issues in University Education and STEM Careers - I am broadly interested in first-generation students' experiences and underrepresented in tech careers. My previous studies in these areas include:
  •  Latinas experiences as part of the tech workforce
  • Understanding how Latina/o students participate in class and seek help during office hours
  • Interviews with Latinx and Armenian students on how they navigate institutional, family, cultural, and gender expectations and how this relates to mental health. 

Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

  • I am currently recruiting research assistants passionate about diversifying STEM educational pipeline.
  • Being a bilingual Spanish speaker is required for some, but not all, of the research projects.
  • As a research assistant you will attend weekly lab meetings, work in lab, learn about applying to graduate school, and possibly present at professional conferences.

As a new member of the lab, you will start by doing literature reviews to help you get used to coming into lab hours.



  1. Passion - You must care about the research we are conducting
  2. Willingness to learn - This includes googling questions you have, asking peers and me questions, and not being afraid to be wrong
  3. If you lose interest or don't have time let me know so we can restructure your responsibilities or so that I know you may be leaving the lab
  4. Research methods IS NOT required

**I may have small roles for students who can't make lab, but would like some research experience.