Faculty & Staff

Aerika Brittian, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Aerika S. Brittian is an Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research focuses on investigating sources of risk and protective factors among ethnic minority youth and families in urban settings, and she provides recommendations for culturally informed youth practice and policy. She has conducted research in the United States and in South Africa, and her research has been published in journals such as Developmental Psychology, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, and Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Education

  • 2010 - PhD, Tufts University, Child Study and Human Development
  • 2007 - MA, California State University, Fullerton, Psychology
  • 2004 - BA, California State University, Fullerton, Psychology; Child and Adolescent Studies (minor)

Research & Teaching Interests

My research focuses on investigating complex relationships that exist between ethnic minority youth and their environment in order to understand how positive development among urban youth of color transpires. For example, how do ethnic minority youth navigate and construct their identities in urban schools, neighborhoods, and communities? How and in what ways do various social contexts impact positive identity development among urban ethnic minority adolescents?

I am not only engaged in research but I am passionate about teaching and mentoring as well. In the College of Education, I have the privilege of teaching courses in the Human Development and Learning, and Youth Development programs. The best thing about teaching is being able to contribute to student’s knowledge and professional development and to observe students and mentees pursue graduate studies or enter respective careers. By the end of every course, I hope that students will share my appreciation of the course content and are able to apply theoretical concepts to their own work with youth.

Current Research Projects

Adolescents Resilience through Action and Culture (ARAC)

ARAC is a collaborative study that investigates how resilience occurs among African American male adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system. This study examines how different types of discrimination impact comorbity (mental health, substance use, and risky sexual behavior) and positive development (self-esteem and social competence), and addresses the protective and promotive value of youth’s coping and cultural resources on adjustment. This study is funded through NICHD grant R03 HD077128 (PI: Brittian).

Project CARES (Cultural and Racial Environment Study)

Project CARES is a new research study about racial and cultural climate in Chicago youth programs. We are especially interested in how issues of race, diversity, and cultural climate are addressed in urban youth programs and how youth of color experience youth programs. The pilot study is partially funded through a Scholar Grant from the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at UIC (PI: Brittian).

Restorative Justice in Schools

This collaborative research project brings together expertise from Policy Studies, Special Education, Human Development, and Educational Psychology to: 1) begin examination of restorative justice literature as it relates to educational settings and specifically to school discipline; 2) assess key stakeholders perceptions of restorative justice policies and practice applied within educational contexts; 3) preliminarily examine how restorative justice practice and discipline strategies impact students’ well-being and academic success. This two-year study is funded through a UIC College of Education IMPACT Faculty Research Cluster grant (PIs: Aerika Brittian and Stacey Horn; Co-PIs: Elizabeth Talbott and David Stovall).

Selected Publications

* Please contact Aerika Brittian (brittian@uic.edu) if you are unable to locate one of the publications listed below.

Brittian, A. S., & Humphries, M. L. (2015). Prosocial behavior during adolescence. In James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd edition, Vol. 19, pp. 221–227). Oxford: Elsevier.

Xing, K., Chico, E., Lambouths III, D. L., Brittian, A. S., & Schwartz, S. J. (2015). Identity development in adolescence: Implications for youth policy and practice. In Bowers, E. P., Geldhof, G. J., Johnson, S., Hilliad, L., Hershberg, R., Lerner, J. V., and Lerner, R. M. (Eds.), Promoting healthy development for America’s youth: Lessons learned from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (pp. 187-208). New York: Springer.

Brittian, A. S., Kim, S. Y., Armenta, B. E., Lee, R. M., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Schwartz, S. J., Villalta, I. K., Zamboanga, B. L., Weisskirch, R. S., Juang, L. P., Castillo, L. G., & Hudson, M. L. (2015). Do dimensions of ethnic identity mediate the association between perceived ethnic group discrimination and depressive symptoms? Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21, 41-53.

Brittian, A. S., & Gray, D. L. (2014). African American students’ perceptions of differential treatment in learning environments: Examining the moderating role of peer support, connection to heritage, and discrimination efficacy. Journal of Education, 194, 1-9.

Brittian, A. S., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Early influences and later outcomes associated with developmental trajectories of Eriksonian fidelity. Developmental Psychology, 49(4), 722-735.

Brittian, A. S., Umana-Taylor, A. J., & Derlan, C. (2013). An examination of biracial college youths' family ethnic socialization, ethnic identity, and adjustment: Do self-identification labels and university context matter? Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(2), 177-189. 

Brittian, A. S., O'Donnell, M., Knight, G. P., Carlo, G., Umana-Taylor, A. J., & Roosa, M. W. (2013). Associations between adolescents' perceived discrimination and prosocial tendencies: The mediating role of Mexican American values. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(3), 328-341.

Brittian, A. S., Toomey, R. B., Gonzales, N. A., & Dumka, L. E. (2013). Perceived discrimination, coping strategies, and Mexican origin adolescents' internalizing and externalizing behaviors: Examining the moderating role of gender and cultural orientationApplied Developmental Science, 17, 4-19.

Honors & Awards

2016    Scholar, UIC Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program

2014    Mentor, Frances D. Horowitz Millennium Scholars Program

2014    Scholar Grant, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago

2011    Fellow, NICHD Summer Institute for Applied Research in Child and Adolescent Development

Professional Affiliations & Activities

Courses Taught

446 Characteristics of Early Adolescence

Hours
3
Prerequisites
  • ED 210 or ED 421 or ED 422 or PSCH 422 or the equivalent
  • Approval of the College of Education; or admission to the Ph.D. in Psychology program; or consent of the instructor.

Physiological, social, emotional and cognitive development of early adolescence. The relationship between these developmental characteristics and success in the middle grades. Same as PSCH 423. 

517 Seminar in Urban Youth Development

Hours
4
Prerequisites

Consent of the instructor.

In-depth analysis of topics and issues in the field of youth development and its relation to youth program development, with special attention to the urban context. Previously listed as CIE 517.

416 Systematic Approaches to Program Quality

Hours
3

An overview of theories and methods in exploring the system of program development, quality implementation, and evaluation. Relevant for those working in diverse settings and with diverse youth. Course information: Recommended background: coursework in psychology or educational psychology.