Sean A. Plaskett Program: Human Development & Quantitative Methods, Ph.D.

Anticipated Graduation: August 2025


Professional Biography

Sean is an educator by profession, having taught grades 6-9 math and science for four years in Houston, TX from 2011-2015 before transitioning to graduate school at Penn GSE for education research in developmental psychology - his area of study in undergrad at The Ohio State University.

He served as an after-school program director and summer camp coordinator in the Philadelphia-based non-profit organization EducationWorks, where he used his background in education and developmental psychology to provide extracurricular academic and social enrichment services for 40 low-income students (grades K-5), professional development training for 13 high school youth workers, and training for program staff on health & safety, conflict-resolution, behavior management, psychosocial/socio-emotional intervention, curriculum development, lesson planning, and lesson implementation.

At Penn, Sean was a T.A. for two of Dr. Howard Stevenson's Afropsych courses - "Psychology of the African American", and "Psychoeducational Interactions with Black Males". He also served as lead instructor for the "Developmental Theories and Applications with Adolescents" course through GSE's Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program, as well as an adjunct psychology professor teaching "General Psychology" through Eastern University's Prison Education Program for inmates at SCI-Chester working toward their Associate's degrees.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Sean is currently working on his dissertation, a study that identifies adolescents with high psychobiological sensitivity called "orchids" who are at moderate-to-severe risk for dropping out of school, and investigates the protective and promotive factors or processes (PPFPs) of academic resilience that are most effective in mitigating dropout risk and promoting optimal academic outcomes for students of this demographic.

In addition to his dissertation work, Sean serves as a graduate research coordinator-emeritus within Dr. Howard Stevenson's Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC) lab, where he provides counsel on topics such as racial literacy development, qualitative methods, and navigating/engaging graduate school spaces and processes with health and wellness. He is also a co-writer for a research project in REC called PACCT, which assesses how adults employ "Protection, Affection, Correction, and Connection" as competencies for promoting humanizing, healthy psychoeducational "Transactions" in service of African-American/BIPOC students.

Sean also serves as a coordinator-emeritus within the Mental Health and Optimal Development research lab in association with Dr. Michael J. Nakkula, providing support in the data collection and analysis for two qualitative projects that evaluate the effectiveness of mentoring programs that serve first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students - one a peer mentoring program for college students across five universities in the Philadelphia area called "Next Steps", the other a school-based adult-child mentoring program for K-12 students across ninety-four schools throughout the state of Delaware called "Connecting Generations".

As an AERA member, Sean's research interests are reflected in his involvement with the SIGs for:

Mentorship and Mentoring Practices
Adolescence and Youth Development
Stress, Coping, and Resilience
Spirituality and Education
Caribbean/African Studies in Education
Studying and Self-Regulated Learning
Social and Emotional Learning


Plaskett, S. A., Bali, D., Nakkula, M. J., & Harris, J. (2018). Peer mentoring to support first-generation low-income college students. Phi Delta Kappan, 99(7), 47-51.

Interest Categories

K-12 Education
Psychology & Human Development
Race & Equity


M.S.Ed. (Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development) Penn GSE, 2016.
BS (Psychology) The Ohio State University, 2011.

Faculty Advisors

Dr. Howard Stevenson
Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education
Racial Empowerment Collaborative Director

Dr. Michael J. Nakkula
Professor of Practice
HDQM Chair

Areas Of Expertise

Developmental Psychology
First Generation Low-Income (FGLI) Students

Profile information is provided directly by the student