Sandra Simpkins

picture of Sandra  Simpkins

School of Education

Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2000, Developmental Psychology

Phone: (949) 824-3202

University of California, Irvine
2094 Education
Mail Code: 5500
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Organized After-School Activities, Motivation, Family Influences, Diversity & Equity, Immigration & Culture, STEM
Academic Distinctions
Outstanding Faculty Mentor of an Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Sanford School, Arizona State University (2014)
National Science Foundation CAREER Award Recipient (2011-2016)
William T. Grant Young Scholar (2007-2012)
American Psychological Association Advanced Training Institute Award (2006)
American Psychological Association Dissertation Award (2000)
Research Abstract
Through my research, I examine how youth development unfolds over time and how the contexts in which youth are embedded influence their development. Generally, my work has focused on how families, friendships, and social position factors (such as, ethnicity and culture) shape adolescents' academic achievement, motivation, and organized after-school activities. Funded by two career awards, I addresses these issues for Latino adolescents. My work strives to understand the unique role of SES, immigration, ethnicity, and culture in family functioning and youth development. My mixed-methods work integrates sophisticated quantitative analyses with the rich insights garnered from qualitative data. In addition to my scholarly publications, I have participated in policy and practitioner oriented forums and authored several practitioner oriented papers.
Vandell, D., Simpkins, S. D., & Wegemer, C. (in press). Parenting and children’s activities. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.) Handbook on parenting: Vol. 5. The practice of parenting (3rd ed.)
Fredricks, J. A., Hsieh, T., Liu, Y., & Simpkins, S. D. (in press). Spilling over: How Participating in after-school organized activities predicts students’ engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. L. Reschly, & J. A. Fredricks (Eds.) Handbook of research on student engagement.
Ma, T., Simpkins, S.D., & Puente, K. (in press). Latino and White adolescents’ reasons behind organized activity participation: The connections with cultural orientations, psychological engagement, and activity experiences. Applied Developmental Science.
Xu, Y., Xu, D., Simpkins, S. D., & Warschauer, M. (in press). Does it matter which parent is absent?: Labor migration, parenting, and adolescent development in China. Journal of Family and Child Studies.
Hsieh, T ., Liu, Y., & Simpkins, S. D. (in press). Changes in U.S. Latino/a high school students’ science motivational beliefs: Within group differences across science subjects, gender, immigrant status, and perceived support. Frontiers in Psychology.
Simpkins, S. D., Estrella, G., Gaskin, E., & Kloberdanz, E. (in press). Supporting Latino adolescents’ science motivational beliefs in high school: Parents’ science-specific beliefs and behaviors. Social Psychology of Education.
Liu, Y., Simpkins, S. D., & Lin, A. R. (in press). Ethnic and cultural features in organized activities: Potential implications for parent and adolescent engagement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Simpkins, S. D., Fredricks, J. A., & Lin, A. R. (in press). Families and engagement in afterschool programs. In B. H. Fiese (Series Ed.). APA Handbook of contemporary family psychology: Vol. 2. Applications of contemporary family psychology.
Ettekal, A. E., Simpkins, S. D., & Schaefer, D. R. (in press). Obesity and social marginalization: When do organized activities facilitate or hinder peer relationships? Applied Developmental Science.
Kang, H., Barton, A. C., Tan, E., & Simpkins, S. D., Rhee H., & Turner, C. (2019). How do middle school girls of color develop STEM identities? Middle school girls’ participation in science activities and identification with STEM careers. Science Education, 103, 418 – 439.
Raffaelli, M., Simpkins, S. D., Tran, S. P., & Larson, R. W. (2018). Responsibility development transfers across contexts: Reciprocal pathways between home and afterschool programs. Developmental Psychology, 54(3), 559-570.
Lin, A. R., Simpkins, S. D., Gaskin, E., & Menjivar, C. (2018). Cultural values and other perceived benefits of organized activities: A qualitative analysis of Mexican-origin parents’ perspectives in Arizona. Applied Developmental Science, 22, 89-109.
Schaefer, D. R., Simpkins, S. D., & Ettekal, A. (2018). Can extracurricular activities reduce adolescent race/ethnic friendship segregation? In D. Alwin, D. Felmlee, & D. Kreager (Eds.). Together through time: Social networks and the life course (pp. 315 – 339). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.
Simpkins, S. D., Riggs, N. R., Ngo, B., Ettekal, A. E., & Okamoto, D. (2017). Designing culturally responsive organized after-school activities. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32, 11 - 36.
Kang, H., Bowers, J., Munoz, L., Raffaelli, M., & Simpkins, S. D. (2017). Parental participation in the process of youth joining a program: Perspectives from adolescents and parents. Family Relations, 66, 258-272.
Lin, A. R., Menjivar, C., Ettekal, A. E., Simpkins, S. D., Gaskin, E., & Pesch, A. (2016). “They will post a law about playing soccer” and other ethnic/racial microaggressions in organized activities experienced by Mexican-origin families. Journal of Adolescent Research, 31, 557 - 581.
Simpkins, S. D., Liu, Y., & Dawes, N. P. (2017). 15 Years After “Community Programs to Promote Youth Development” In H. J. Malone, & T. Donahue (Eds.). The growing out-of-school time field: Past, present, and future.
Delgado, M., Ettekal, A. E., Simpkins, S. D., & Schaefer, D. (2016). How do my friends matter? Examining Latino adolescents’ friendships, school belonging, and academic achievement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 1110 – 1125.
Ettekal, A. E., Gaskin, E., Lin, A. R., & Simpkins, S. D. (2015). “You gotta respect” Mexican-origin adolescents’ perspectives on respect in organized activities. Journal of Youth Development, 10, 74 – 87.
Simpkins, S. D., Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2015). Families, schools, and developing achievement-related motivations and engagement. In J. E. Grusec, & P. H. Hasting (Eds.). Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 614 – 636). New York: Guilford Press.
Simpkins, S. D. (2015). Guest Editorial: When and how does participating in an organized after-school activity matter? Applied Developmental Science, 19, 121 – 126.
Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Fredricks, J., Simpkins, S. D., Roeser, R., & Schiefele, U. (2015). Development of achievement motivation and engagement. In R. M. Lerner (Series Ed.) & M. Lamb (Volume Eds.). Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: Vol. 3. Social and emotional development (7th ed., pp. 657 – 700). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Simpkins, S. D., Fredricks, J., & Eccles, J. S. (2015). Parent beliefs to youth choices: Mapping the sequence of predictors from childhood to adolescence. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 80(2), 1 – 151.
Price, C., Simpkins, S. D., & Menjívar, C. (2017). Sibling behaviors and Mexican-origin adolescents’ after-school activities. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32, 127-154.
Simpkins, S. D., Price, C. & Garcia, K. (2015). Parental support and high school students’ motivation in biology, chemistry, and physics: Understanding differences among Latino and Caucasian boys and girls. Journal for Research in Science Teaching.
Simpkins, S. D., & Riggs, N. R. (2014). Cultural competence in after-school programs. New Directions for Youth Development, 114, 105-117.
Schaefer, D., & Simpkins, S. D. (2014). Using social network analysis to clarify the role of obesity in adolescent friend selection. American Journal of Public Health, 104, 1223-1229.
Dawes, N. P., Vest, A. E., & Simpkins, S. D. (2014). Youth participation in organized and informal sports activities across childhood and adolescence: Exploring the relationships of motivational beliefs, developmental stage and gender. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 1374-1388
Fredricks, J. A. & Simpkins, S. D. (2013). Organized out-of-school activities: Peers and adolescent development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 140, 1 - 17.
Simpkins, S. D., Delgado, M., Price, C., Quach, A., & Starbuck, E. (2013). Socioeconomic status, ethnicity, culture, and immigration: Examining the potential mechanisms underlying Mexican-origin adolescents’ organized activities. Developmental Psychology, 49, 706 - 721.
Simpkins, S. D., Schaefer, D., Price, C., & Vest, A. E. (2013). Adolescent friendships, BMI, and physical activity: Untangling selection and influence through longitudinal social network analysis. Journal for Research on Adolescence: Special issue on social network analysis. 23, 537 – 549.
Vest, A. E., Mahoney, J. L., & Simpkins, S. D. (2013). Patterns of out-of-school time around the world: Do the help to explain international differences in mathematics and science achievement? International Journal of Research on Extended Education, 2, 88-113.
Vest, A. E. & Simpkins, S. D. (2013). Do some athletes drink alcohol more than others? The importance of peer relationships and gender. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 140, 37 - 55.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator). The determinants of Mexican-origin adolescents' participation in organized activities: The role of culture, settings and the individual, William T. Grant Foundation, July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2012.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator, subcontract from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). 7936 Development of self-direction in youth-programs-family interaction systems: Latino and non-Latino adolescents, William T. Grant Foundation, October 2013 – June 2014.
Schaefer, D. (Principal Investigator), & Simpkins, S. D. (co-Principal Investigator). 1R21-HD071885 Exploring new mechanisms to explain how adolescent health shapes friend selection, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, June 4, 2012 – May 31, 2015.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator). DRL-1054798 CAREER: How families motivate Mexican-origin adolescents to pursue physical science in high school, National Science Foundation, March 15, 2011 – March 15, 2016.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator), Menjivar, C., & Millsap, R. 181735 Distal Factors and Proximal Settings as Predictors of Latino Adolescents' Activities: Insights from Mixed Methods, William T. Grant Foundation, 2013-2016.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator), & Eccles, J. DRL-1760757 Family support of math and science: Examining an untapped source of resilience for diverse high school students, National Science Foundation, 10/1/2018-9/30/2021.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator), Vandell, D., Eccles, J., & Zarrett, N. 161089 Enduring character virtues: How after-school organized activities support character development from childhood through young adulthood, Templeton Foundation, 7/1/2018-6/30/2021.
Vandell, D. (Principal Investigator) & Simpkins, S. D. (Co-Principal Investigator), Are there meaningful and enduring effects of out-of-school-time? Two proposed studies, Mott Foundation, 1/1/2017-12/31/2018.
Simpkins, S. D. (Principal Investigator), & Jenel, L. UC Links: UCI Campus, University of California University-Community Links Program, 2017-2019.
Yu, M. (Principal Investigator) & Simpkins, S. D. (Co-Principal Investigator & Mentor), NSF-1809208 Exploring high-quality and culturally responsive math afterschool program practices for under-represented minority youth, National Science Foundation, 7/1/2018-6/30/2020.
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