African American Youth Development Research Lab
About the AAYD Lab


What is “Positive Youth Development”?

Positive Youth Development is the “process by which youth develop the personal, social, academic and citizenship competencies necessary for adolescence and adult life based on their capacities, strengths, and formative needs (Damon, 2004).”

What Does Positive Youth Development Include?

Positive Youth Development includes social and academic competence, psychological adjustment, community participation, and engagement in healthy behaviors.


What Can Influence Positive Youth Development?

There are multiple factors that contribute to the successful development of youth. Families and schools represent important contributors to youth development. Also, communities (e.g., community support; neighborhood resources) play an important role in how youth may develop successfully.

Goals of the African American Youth Development Research Lab

Although many of the factors contributing to youth development are the same for all youth, there may be distinct factors that relate to the successful development of African American youth. Using culturally-relevant conceptual and theoretical frameworks, the African American Youth Development (AAYD) Research Lab explores the ways in which families, schools, and communities influence positive youth development among African American youth  (educational-related outcomes; psychological adjustment; health behaviors). Given that these influential factors and underlying processes may vary across the life-span, the AAYD Lab explores these relationships within the larger developmental context (e.g., pre-adolescence, adolescence; emerging adulthood).

Specific research topics of interest include: positive development among African American youth; African American family processes; race-related experiences (e.g., racial socialization; race discrimination) and school/psychological adjustment; gender -related developmental processes 


AAYD Research Lab
University of South Carolina
Department of Psychology
554 Barnwell College,
Columbia, SC 29208
Lab Phone: (803) 777 - 6981
AAYD Research Lab
Shamika Martin
Shamika Martin
AAYDLab Community Engagement and Outreach Undergraduate Research Opportunities