Seanna Leath

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Seanna Leath is a psychologist who studies topics such as the effects of discrimination, socialization and resilience, especially for Black girls and women, using an interdisciplinary approach.[1] She is an assistant professor of community psychology at the University of Virginia.[1]

Personal life and education

Leath is originally from Sherwood, Arkansas.[2] She is a mother of three and has spoken openly about the challenges of motherhood.[3] Her research interests extend into her personal life given her experience having her first child during graduate school and thus navigating the balance between her family life and career.[2]

She received her Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in 2013.[4] At Pomona, Dr. Leath majored in Africana Studies and Psychology.[2] She went on to receive her PhD from the University of Michigan’s combined program in Education and Psychology in 2019.[5] Her graduate dissertation is titled, “Racial and Gender Identity Beliefs Among Black College Women Attending PWIs: Examining Developmental Trajectories and Associations with Interpersonal Discrimination and College Adjustment”.[6] Her dissertation looked specifically at identity development for Black college women within the context of a PWI (predominantly white institution).[7] Her work contributes to ongoing literature dedicated to improving mental health and academic achievement for Black women.[7]

Career and research

In 2019, Leath began a tenure-track position at the University of Virginia. In addition to teaching, she runs a psychology lab titled F.H.I.RE (Fostering Healthy Identities and REsilience).[1]

Leath has published and co-authored significant research related to themes such as racial identity, academic achievement and resilience factors. She is especially interested in how identities such as race and class interact with students' performance in school as well as their mental health more generally.[2]

In 2018, she published "Promoting Resilience Among African American Girls: Racial Identity as a Protective Factor" with Sheretta T. Butler-Barnes, Amber Williams, Christy Byrd, Rona Carter and Tabbye M. Chavous.[8] The longitudinal study found that for their sample of African American adolescent girls, racial identity and ideology were related to higher achievement motivation beliefs over time. Additionally, factors such as positive school racial climate and sense of belonging were related to students' higher academic persistence and curiosity (e564).[8] This research is significant given that African American girls' academic experiences are not a prominent topic in psychological literature (e553).[8] Researchers concluded that more intersectional work is needed to promote academic success for African American girls.

In 2019, Leath published "Communalism Versus Race/Ethnicity: Which Predicts What Pedagogical Strategies Will Be Culturally Relevant? Or Do You Need Both?" with Eric A. Hurley, Shelva P. Hurley and Elettra Pauletto.[9] This research is explicit in acknowledging the way culture intersects with race as a way to improve learning strategies and educational recommendations for children and adolescents (2).[9] Their first study involved placing high school students in one of two learning conditions: individual or communal. Next, students were administered a questionnaire that measured communalism as well as a math assessment (6).[9] Although they did not find significant differences between communalism scores for African American and European American students, they did find a three-way interaction between the factors of race/ethnicity, COM orientation and learning context (13).[9] Researchers completed a second study in order to discern if the previous study's findings were related specifically to communalism or group orientation. They gathered their sample using students' group orientation scores, as well as selecting a college sample to determine changes over the course of a student's development (14).[9] Similar to the first study, the aforementioned three-way interaction was found. Researchers also found that, as in study one, collectivism ratings predicted the performance for African American students (19).[9] This research contributes to finding solutions that help improve students' performance in school while recognizing the relevance of factors such as ethnicity, race and culture.

Selected journal publications

  • “We really protested”: The Influence of Sociopolitical Beliefs, Political Self-efficacy, and Campus Racial Climate on Civic Engagement among Black College Students attending Predominantly White Institutions[10]
  • Teachers’ Expectations of Girls’ Classroom Performance and Behavior: Effects of Girls’ Race and Pubertal Timing[11]
  • Shifting Contexts and Shifting Identities: Campus Race-Related Experiences, Racial Identity, and Academic Motivation Among Black Students During the Transition to College[12]
  • Being Better Than My Dad: A Qualitative Case Study of One African American Father’s Journey With Parenthood and Intergenerational Change[13]
  • Black Women’s Experiences of Campus Racial Climate and Stigma at Predominantly White Institutions: Insights from a Comparative and Within-Group Approach for STEM and Non-STEM Majors[14]
  • Racial Identity, Racial Discrimination, and Classroom Engagement Outcomes Among Black Girls and Boys in Predominantly Black and Predominantly White School Districts[15]
  • Comparing Associations Between Perceived Puberty, Same-Race Friends and Same-Race Peers, and Psychosocial Outcomes Among African American and Caribbean Black Girls[16]
  • Teacher-Based Racial Discrimination: The Role of Racial Pride and Religiosity Among African American and Caribbean Black Adolescents[17]

Impact

In both her undergraduate and graduate careers, Leath has prioritized offering advice and guidance to other first-generation college students like herself.[18] She has received awards such as the Dr. Joseph R. Morris Fellowship for her commitment to furthering her research goals.[19]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "| Department of Psychology" (in en). https://psychology.as.virginia.edu/people/profile/sl4xz. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 aerielm (2019-02-26). "Navigating Motherhood & Graduate School: A Conversation With Seanna Leath" (in en). https://aerielviews.blog/2019/02/26/career-spotlight-seanna-leath/. 
  3. "A Ph.D. who is a mother talks about life at the intersection of privilege and poverty (opinion) | Inside Higher Ed" (in en). https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/02/08/phd-who-mother-talks-about-life-intersection-privilege-and-poverty-opinion. 
  4. "Pomona College Psychological Science" (in zh-Hans). https://zh-cn.facebook.com/PomonaPsychology/posts/2136947553020230. 
  5. "A Ph.D. who is a mother talks about life at the intersection of privilege and poverty (opinion) | Inside Higher Ed" (in en). https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/02/08/phd-who-mother-talks-about-life-intersection-privilege-and-poverty-opinion. 
  6. "Seanna Cade Leath ’13 Accepts Tenure-Track Position" (in en). 2019-06-14. https://www.pomona.edu/academics/departments/psychological-science/news/posts/seanna-cade-leath-13-accepts-tenure-track-position. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Racial and Gender Identity Beliefs Among Black College Women Attending PWIs: Examining Developmental Trajectories and Associations with Interpersonal Discrimination and College Adjustment". https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/151518. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Butler‐Barnes, Sheretta T.; Leath, Seanna; Williams, Amber; Byrd, Christy; Carter, Rona; Chavous, Tabbye M. (2018-11-01). "Promoting Resilience Among African American Girls: Racial Identity as a Protective Factor" (in en). Child Development 89 (6): e552–e571. Template:Citation error. ISSN 1467-8624. https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12995. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Hurley, Eric A.; Leath, Seanna C.; Hurley, Shelva P.; Pauletto, Elettra (2019-05-01). "Communalism Versus Race/Ethnicity: Which Predicts What Pedagogical Strategies Will Be Culturally Relevant? Or Do You Need Both?" (in en). Urban Education: 004208591983801. Template:Citation error. ISSN 0042-0859. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0042085919838012. 
  10. Leath, Seanna; Chavous, Tabbye (Summer 2017). "“We really protested”: The Influence of Sociopolitical Beliefs, Political Self-efficacy, and Campus Racial Climate on Civic Engagement among Black College Students attending Predominantly White Institutions". The Journal of Negro Education 86 (3): 220-237. https://www-jstor-org.ccl.idm.oclc.org/stable/10.7709/jnegroeducation.86.3.0220?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. 
  11. Carter, Rona; Mustafaa, Faheemah N.; Leath, Seanna (2017-03-20). "Teachers’ Expectations of Girls’ Classroom Performance and Behavior: Effects of Girls’ Race and Pubertal Timing" (in en-US). The Journal of Early Adolescence 38 (7): 885–907. Template:Citation error. ISSN 0272-4316. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431617699947. 
  12. Chavous, Tabbye M.; Richardson, Bridget L.; Webb, Felecia R.; Fonseca-Bolorin, Gloryvee; Leath, Seanna (October 2017). "Shifting Contexts and Shifting Identities: Campus Race-Related Experiences, Racial Identity, and Academic Motivation Among Black Students During the Transition to College" (in en). Race and Social Problems 10 (1): 1–18. Template:Citation error. ISSN 1867-1748. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s12552-017-9218-9. 
  13. Leath, Seanna (2017-03-19). "Being Better Than My Dad" (in en-US). SAGE Open 7 (1): 215824401769716. Template:Citation error. ISSN 2158-2440. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244017697163. 
  14. Leath, Seanna; Chavous, Tabbye (Spring 2018). "Black Women’s Experiences of Campus Racial Climate and Stigma at Predominantly White Institutions: Insights from a Comparative and Within-Group Approach for STEM and Non-STEM Majors". Journal of Negro Education 87 (2): 125-139. https://www-jstor-org.ccl.idm.oclc.org/stable/10.7709/jnegroeducation.87.2.0125. 
  15. Leath, Seanna; Mathews, Channing; Harrison, Asya; Chavous, Tabbye (2019-08-01). "Racial Identity, Racial Discrimination, and Classroom Engagement Outcomes Among Black Girls and Boys in Predominantly Black and Predominantly White School Districts" (in en). American Educational Research Journal 56 (4): 1318–1352. Template:Citation error. ISSN 0002-8312. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831218816955. 
  16. Carter, Rona; Leath, Seanna; Butler-Barnes, Sheretta T.; Byrd, Christy M.; Chavous, Tabbye M.; Caldwell, Cleopatra Howard; Jackson, James S. (2017-11-01). "Comparing Associations Between Perceived Puberty, Same-Race Friends and Same-Race Peers, and Psychosocial Outcomes Among African American and Caribbean Black Girls" (in en). Journal of Black Psychology 43 (8): 836–862. Template:Citation error. ISSN 0095-7984. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095798417711024. 
  17. Butler-Barnes, Sheretta T.; Cook, Stephanie; Leath, Seanna; Caldwell, Cleopatra (March 2018). "Teacher-Based Racial Discrimination: The Role of Racial Pride and Religiosity Among African American and Caribbean Black Adolescents" (in en). Race and Social Problems 10 (1): 30–41. Template:Citation error. ISSN 1867-1748. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s12552-017-9222-0. 
  18. "Holding Myself Accountable: A Narrative on Growth" (in en-US). 2018-10-24. https://rackham.umich.edu/discover-rackham/holding-myself-accountable-a-narrative-on-growth/. 
  19. "Grad student is first recipient of Dr. Joseph R. Morris Fellowship in CPEP | University of Michigan School of Education". http://www.soe.umich.edu/news_events/news/article/grad_student_is_first_recipient_of_dr._joseph_r._morris_fellowship_in_cpep/.