November 2015 Spotlight, Jeffrey Liew, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Jeffrey Liew, Ph.D. ( at Texas A&M University. Dr. Liew’s expertise includes human development, particularly emotion, motivation, and self-regulation in academic, psychosocial, and health-related outcomes from the preschool years to the high school and college years. Dr. Liew’s 3 L’s (Live, Love, Learn) sum up his passion and commitment to research that helps people to live, love, and learn in better, healthier, and more meaningful ways. Bridging basic and applied science, Dr. Liew’s research has addressed issues such as school readiness, achievement gaps, mental health disparities, and childhood obesity. Liew has been referred to as the “Father of the Yin and Yang of Parenting” for his pioneering research on Asian American parenting that contributes to children growing into emotionally and academically competent young adults; he has been invited to present this research across North America and Asia.


Personal Spotlight

We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew them to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to them in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in their area.

I have been doing child and adolescent research for over 20 years, beginning with my undergraduate training in Robert Levenson’s psychophysiology laboratory and Stephen Hinshaw’s NIMH Multimodal Treatment Study with children diagnosed with ADHD. My graduate training was in developmental psychology with Nancy Eisenberg, and I learned to conduct longitudinal research on social-emotional development, including empathy, emotionality, and self-regulation. As a professor, my scholarly work spans early childhood through emerging adulthood and focuses on emotion and self-regulation as the core theme that runs through all of my research. But there was a time when I never would have imagined myself as a professor doing research in psychology. My parents are first-generation immigrants who have limited knowledge about the American education system and about higher education. Academia was not a world that my parents or I knew anything about. Even now, I don’t think my parents fully understand what I do professionally. But in my third year of college, I took a course on community psychology with Rhona Weinstein. In that course, I remember learning about Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model of human development and person-environment fit. I also remember reading articles by Stanley Sue and Nolan Zane, and feeling really inspired by their work. For our final assignment, we were asked to conduct an independent research project and I decided to explore the mental health needs and service utilization patterns of Asian American and European American college students. I remember using a mixed methods approach and consulting with the student health center’s counseling and psychological services. Although it was a lot to accomplish in one semester for a class project, I felt energized by the research process; I think that was when I caught “the research bug”. I also remember Sybil Madison, the teaching assistant for that course, who took time to share her experiences of being a graduate student and suggested that I look into applying to graduate school. All of these people and events contributed to my career development and allowed me to discover what I am passionate about doing for my life’s work. I encourage young scholars to allow themselves the time to discover their way educationally and professionally, to be open to learning from formal and informal role models and mentors they meet along the way, and to be persistent in pursuing work that they find fulfilling and meaningful.

Research Spotlight

We also asked scholars to describe a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other understudied populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

I launched Project CASL (Chinese American Successful Living) in 2010, which was supported by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, to study adolescents’ social-emotional and academic adjustment. Findings from this study were published in Asian American Journal of Psychology (Liew et al., 2014), and I shared results from this project at the Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD) in Shanghai, China, and at the Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in San Francisco, California. One of the study findings was that for Chinese American adolescents with first generation immigrant parents, parental autonomy support and emotion regulation are promotive factors in adaptive and academic competencies. We recently completed data collection on a follow-up study, CASL 2.0, on the original sample of adolescents who are now emerging adults in college. We will be analyzing that data and preparing conference presentations and manuscripts. In addition, my students and I are working toward Project CASL 3.0, which will be a mixed methods study using surveys and interviews with the young adults. Limited data exists on bicultural children and their transition from adolescence to early adulthood. Although we have not secured grant funding to support the follow-up studies, my students and I believe this work is worthwhile and we are finding ways to continue with this bicultural sample in order to better understand the factors that contribute to children growing into healthy and competent young adults.

Liew, J., Kwok, O., Chang, Y., Chang, B. W., and Yeh, Y. (2014). Parental autonomy support predicts academic achievement through emotion-related self-regulation and adaptive skills in Chinese American adolescents. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 5, 214-222.

Upcoming Talks/Presentations

Debbie Laible, Mary Lewis, and I are organizing the next Moral Development Pre-conference at the upcoming Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) Biennial Meeting on March 30, 2016. We will have Melanie Killen and Joan Miller as keynote speakers. We will also have two panel sessions with interactive discussions, one on culture and the other on research methods. We are excited that this pre-conference will highlight the importance of culture and the diverse research methodologies and approaches that researchers use in the study of moral development. Please consider joining us at this pre-conference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *