Yaqiong Wang is a doctoral student in positive developmental psychology. Her primary career goal is to promote positive youth development (PYD) for adolescents in China in non-clinical settings. She hopes to achieve this goal by bridging the research-practice gap through (1) conducting applied developmental research and (2) collaborating with practitioners to evaluate and/or design youth development programs. What attracted her to CGU and the YD Eval lab were a central focus on positive perspective, the inspiring work people are doing to bridge the gap between research and practice, and a very supportive learning environment.

Yaqiong studied psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa and worked in a research lab that studies parent-child relationship (attachment) in relation to developmental outcomes. While studying at CGU, her research focused on promoting the social-emotional development of adolescents, guided by research in social and emotional learning (SEL), the non-cognitive domain, and the relational development systems metatheory. She also partnered with Chinese scholars to explore the individual strengths and environmental support that promote PYD among Chinese youth. Her dissertation will examine the promotive factors of PYD for a group of disadvantaged youth in China and create a measurement to assess these factors. Meanwhile, she participated in multiple evaluation projects with Dr. Berry to examine the implementation quality and impact of after-school programs as well as to build evaluation capacity for program stakeholders. Yaqiong has seen the great need of practicing evaluation in China and is now collaborating with another CGU colleague to teach, disseminate, and practice evaluation in China.

Utilizing her cross-training in positive developmental psychology and program evaluation, she hopes to bring with her the knowledge, skills, and expertise she gained at CGU to conduct indigenous research and evaluation practices to improve the social and emotional development, as well as psychological well-being, of Chinese youth. To move forward, Yaqiong is interested in conducting applied research on PYD using participatory, culturally sensitive approaches to understand and promote positive Chinese youth development in real-world contexts. She is also interested in partnering and engaging community stakeholders to help better design and evaluate evidence-based youth programs.