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Onnie Rogers

Assistant Professor of Psychology and of Education and Social Policy (by courtesy)

PhD, New York University, 2012

Onnie Rogers is a developmental psychologist whose research curiosities converge at the intersection of psychology, human development, and education. She is interested in social and educational inequities and the mechanisms through which macro-level disparities are both perpetuated and disrupted at the micro-level of identities and relationships. Her research investigates identity development among racially diverse children and adolescents in urban contexts. She asks how our social groups—and the cultural stereotypes that accompany them—shape how we see ourselves and interact with others. 

Rogers is a member of the Society for Research on Child Development, Society for Research on Adolescence, and American Educational Research Association. She was a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow and has received postdoctoral fellowships from the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education and the Ford Foundation. She has received research fellowships and grants from groups including The Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC) and the Northwestern University Women's Center. Her research has been published in scholarly journals, including Child Development, Journal of Adolescent Research, and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, in addition to invited edited volumes about child development and identity. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Adolescent Research.

She received her PhD in developmental psychology from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and holds a BA in psychology and educational studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Current Research

Black Girls and Identity Development. “Black Girl Magic”: The Social and Academic Lives of Black Girls was a longitudinal study investigating the social and academic experiences and development of Black adolescent girls attending academic programs designed specifically for Black girls in Chicago and St. Louis. The guiding question for this project was: How do cultural stereotypes and messages, school, and community contexts influence how Black adolescent girls see themselves, their relationships, and their futures? A central focus of this work is to identify the strategies that Black girls use as they negotiate society’s expectations about who and what they are and can become and how spaces designed for Black girls supports them in this process. After three years, data collection is complete. Ongoing analyses focus on the needs and strengths of Black girls, the value of Black girl spaces, and strategies needed to support the social and academic development of adolescent girls.

(Re)Building the Foundation of Black Girlhood: A Partnership to Promote Black Girls’ Socio-Emotional and Cultural Development.  There has been an 81% increase in the number of adolescent girls admitted to Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, a startling upsurge that disproportionately (57%) affects Black girls. This school-to-prison pipeline, known as “pushout,” is only one of several penalties Black girls in Chicago-area public schools endure as a result of discriminatory school discipline practices and limited access to social workers and counselors. Through the structure of the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC), Rogers and Gloria Dotson-Lewis, founder of Distinctively Me, formed a research-community partnership designed to integrate socioemotional programming into schools for Black girls. Each month they gather 10 Black women–high school students, educators, professors, community service providers–in Chicagoland to provide the developmentally-appropriate, culturally relevant socio-emotional support Black girls (and women) need to thrive.

Children’s Self-Perceptions and Social Interactions in School. Rogers’ current research on identity among children engages three related questions: (1) how do children’s racial and gender identities develop over time; (2) how do racial and gender stereotypes intersect and impact identity development; and (3) how do multiple identities intersect (or overlap) across development? Primary data were gathered from 2013–16 and include in-depth interviews, survey measures, and experimental techniques. The sample includes 240 children ages 7-14 years from racially diverse backgrounds in predominately low-income public schools. 

The Development of Multiple Identities and Intersectionality. Much of the research on identity focuses exclusively on adolescents, though we know that social group attitudes and identities emerge in middle childhood (around 8 years old). Through an in-depth, qualitative analysis, Rogers is exploring the origins of identity development by analyzing how children speak about and make sense of social groups, including race, gender, academics, and athletics. She met individually with the 240 children in the study mentioned above to discuss their thoughts on race and gender; identity and self-perceptions; school and learning; peers and friendships; and future aspirations. The ongoing qualitative analysis is focused on how the content of their identity narratives changes over time and how their understandings differ across social identities, in addition to group differences in identity based on race and gender. This analysis also explores the relationship between multiple identities and stereotypes. For example, how do children understand and experience what it means to be “black” (race), what it means to be a “boy” (gender), and what it means to be a “black boy” (race x gender)?  Rogers’ research works across methodological approaches to explore both the explicit (what youth say) and the implicit (what they think) underpinnings of identity. With Dario Cvencek and Andrew Metlzoff of the University of Washington, she developed an Implicit Associations Test for a diverse sample of children to investigate the link between implicit and explicit measures of children’s racial and gender identities and endorsement of racial and gender stereotypes. This work examines the link between implicit measures of multiple identities and children’s academic engagement and school performance.

Implicit and Explicit Identities. As a psychological process, much of the “work” of identity development occurs unconsciously or implicitly as one responds to the stereotypes, norms, and expectations of a social group. Rogers’ research works across methodological approaches to explore both the explicit (what youth say) and the implicit (what they think) underpinnings of identity. With Dario Cevencek and Andrew Metlzoff of the University of Washington, she developed an Implicit Associations Test for a diverse sample of children to investigate the link between implicit and explicit measures of children’s racial and gender identities and endorsement of racial and gender stereotypes. This work examines the link between implicit measures of multiple identities and children’s academic engagement and school performance.

Research Translation Project. A recipient of the Hearst Fellowship for Research Translation, Rogers has developed two online learning modules about race and child development. The research-based, interactive modules draw from Rogers’ own research, as well as literature in the field, to discuss what children understand about race and how adults can engage in race-related conversations throughout childhood. The modules constitute a free resource-and-learning tool for parents, educators, and community members. Each one includes a discussion guide for independent or group learning. The Hearst Fellowship and Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington have supported the project.

Selected Publications

Rogers, L. O., H. Versey, and J. Cielto. Forthcoming. “They’re always gonna notice my natural hair”: Identity, intersectionality and resistance among Black girls. Qualitative Psychology.

Rogers, L. O., U. Moffitt, and C. Foo. 2021. “Martin Luther King fixed it”: Children making sense of racial identity in a colorblind society. Child Development.

Kornbluh, M., L. O. Rogers, and J. Williams. 2021. Doing anti-racist scholarship with adolescents: Empirical examples and lessons learned. Journal of Adolescent Research 36(5): 427-36.

Rogers, L. O., R. Rosario, D. Padilla, and C. Foo. 2021. “[I]t’s hard because it’s the cops that are killing us for stupid stuff”: Developing racial identity in the context of Black Lives Matter. Developmental Psychology 57(1): 87–101.

Rogers, L. O., L. Kiang, L. White, E. Calzada, A. Umaña-Taylor, C. Byrd, C. Williams, A. Marks, and N. Whitesell. 2021. Persistent concerns: Questions for research on ethnic-racial identity development. Research in Human Development 17(2-3): 130–53.

Moffitt, U., L. O. Rogers, and K. Dastrup. 2021. Beyond ethnic identity: Applying Helms’ White racial identity development model with White youth. Journal of Research on Adolescence.

Rogers, L. O. and N. Way. 2018. Reimagining social and emotional development: Accommodation and resistance to dominant ideologies in the identities and friendships of boys of color. Human Development, 61:311–31.