Maureen Smith, PhD

Maureen Smith

Professor, Child & Adolescent Development

Maureen Smith joined SJSU after spending three years teaching at Chicago State University and two years in a Post Doc at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on contexts that shape children’s social-emotional development: (1) risk and resilience (e.g., maltreatment, foster care); and (2) imagination/reading for pleasure. She focuses on understanding these processes in culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse populations. As a Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development, Dr. Smith teaches three classes regularly: Senior Seminar; Risk and Resilience; and Play, Creativity, and Imagination. For the last two years, she has also been developing an integrated BA/Teacher Credential program. 


  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Cornell University
  • M.A., Developmental Psychology, Cornell University
  • B.A., Psychology (Minor Human Development), University of California, Davis

Recent Publications

  • Smith, M. C. (2001). Social and emotional competencies: Contributions to young African-American children’s peer acceptance. Early Education and Development, 12, 49-72.

  • Mathur, R. & Smith, M. (2007-2008). An investigation of imaginary companions in an ethnic and grade diverse sample. Imagination, Cognition, & Personality, 27 (4), 313-336.

  • Smith, M. C. (2009). Early childhood educators: Perspectives on maltreatment and mandatory reporting. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 20-27.

  • Fusaro, M. & Smith, M. (2018). Preschoolers' inquisitiveness and science-relevant problem solving. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 42, 119-127.

  • Smith, M.C. (2018) Imagination and well-Being in blind, deaf, and typically developing school children. Imagination, Personality, and Cognition.

Recent Presentations

  • Backer, P., Kato, C., Peck, D., Morgan, J., Seah, DF., Smith, M., & Anastasovitou, L. (2019). Improving retention and graduation rates at SJSU: Project Succeed. SJSU Student Success Symposium. San Jose: April 2019.

Noteworthy Grants and Awards

  • Co-PI on "Project Succeed: Improving Retention and Graduation in URM at SJSU." Funded by the Department of Education (2015-2019)

Areas of Research Interest

  • Foster care
  • Imagination
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Maltreatment
  • Reading
  • Resilience
  • Risk

Recommended Reading

Personality Playlist