Web Bio PageCurrent Activities
Current Research Activities
My research goals are focused on understanding and promoting institutional supports enabling low-income and minority youth to become workers, citizens, and family members as adults. My ethnographic research focuses on the quality of these opportunities, especially adult mentoring relationships, and how quality impacts the technical, social and personal competence of youth.
I am currently engaged in three related projects, each at a different stage. The Community Mobilization for Mentoring Youth project seeks to enhance natural mentoring in rural communities. An interdisciplinary team of collaborators and co-PIs at Cornell, including Steve Hamilton, Davydd Greenwood (Anthropology) and Tom Hirschl (Development Sociology), received Federal Formula Funds in the fall of 2008 for this project. A pilot was undertaken in one community in the spring of 2008. We propose that educational attainment and community connectedness are more likely to occur when youth have opportunities to work alongside adults to plan and act toward improving their communities. Such opportunities are optimal for fostering natural mentoring relationships (Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004). Interviewing adults and then creating and communicating their life stories (Phase 1) will simultaneously inform youth about how adults have made satisfying lives in their communities and create conditions for developing opportunities for enduring caring relationships between those youth and the adults in these communities. The life stories will also provide important information for use in joint planning (Phase 2) and action (Phase 3) to make communities more supportive of youth.
A Retrospective Study of Natural Mentoring will focus on young adults in their twenties who made a successful transition to adulthood from poverty to understand the dynamics of their relationships with non-related adults whom they think mattered to them before, during, and after their experiences in youth programs, and how those programs supported them. Pilot data collection for this project was done in the summer of 2007. We have now identified two institutional partners with whom we will proceed in 2009. Our story-telling methodology will be used to elicit information about: how they were connected; what they did together; ways in which their lives were changed; and how YouthBuild supported/enhanced those connections.
The third project, Building institutional support for the transition to adulthood, grows out of a chapter completed in 2008 (S. F. Hamilton & M. A. Hamilton, in press, Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, 3rd ed,) on the inadequacy of institutions supporting the transition to adulthood. We have submitted a proposal to an international foundation (following a pre-proposal) that will integrate a cutting edge set of social research questions on the transition to adulthood with an innovative research/action strategy – action research – that links academic experts with local researchers/stakeholders in a collaborative research and program development process to address the question:
How can new institutions be created in developing countries that build the critical developmental assets young people need to make a successful transition to adulthood in a global economy?
We will form partnerships with four Latin American youth development programs to test the conceptual framework developed in our chapter and to enable them to identify and explore their own questions and priorities. We believe this approach is equally appropriate to domestic programs and plan to pursue that possibility as well.
Mary Agnes Hamilton is a Senior Research Associate in Human Development at Cornell and Director of the Cornell Youth in Society Program in the Family Life Development Center. Her ethnographic research and program development focus on understanding and enhancing the quality of learning environments in the community, mentoring relationships between non-related adults and youth, youth participation, and the transition to adulthood. She seeks to advance educational opportunities and challenges to enable all youth to gain character and competence. Recent publications with S. F. Hamilton include: The transition to adulthood: Challenges of poverty and structural lag, in Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed.), (in press); A precarious passage: Aging out of the child-only case load, in Applied Developmental Science (2008); The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (2004); Work and Service-Learning, in The handbook of youth mentoring (2005); School, work, and emerging adulthood, in Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (2006). Her M.A.T. is from Duke, C.A.S. is from Harvard, and Ph.D. is from Cornell. Dr. Hamilton taught for four years in public schools in Montgomery County MD and in Richmond, VA. She has been at Cornell since 1977, becoming a senior research associate in 1990.
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Ithaca, NY
Ph.D. in Human Service Studies, 1979 to 1983.
Thesis title: Learning through work: The educational quality of three work experience programs. Dissertation Abstracts International,1983, 44, 1766A (University Microfilms No. DA8321845).
HARVARD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, Cambridge, MA
Certificate of Advanced Study in Learning Environments, 1973 to 1974. Class Marshal.
DUKE UNIVERSITY, Durham, NC
M.A.T. in French literature, minor in education, 1967 to 1968.
MARYMOUNT COLLEGE, Tarrytown, NY
B.A. Major in French, minor in German, 1962 to 1966.
SORBONNE, UNIVERSITY OF PARIS, France
Diplôme Supérieur, 1964 to 1965.
Courses, Websites, Pubs
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (in press). The transition to adulthood: Challenges of poverty and structural lag. In R.M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.
Hamilton, M.A., & Hamilton, S.F. (2008). A precarious passage: Aging out of the child-only caseload. Applied Developmental Science, 12(1), 10-25.
Hamilton, S. F., Hamilton, M. A., Hirsch, B.J., Hughes, J., King, J., & Maton, K. (2006). Community contexts for mentoring. Journal of Community Psychology, 34 (6), 727-746.
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (2006). School, work, and emerging adulthood. In J.J. Arnett & J.L. Tanner (Eds.), Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (pp. 257-277). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hamilton, M. A., & Hamilton, S. F. (2005). Work and service-learning. In D. L. Dubois & M. K. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (pp. 348-363). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hamilton, M. A., & Hamilton, S. F. (2004). Designing work and service for learning. In S.F. Hamilton & M. A. Hamilton (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (pp. 147-169). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (2004). Implications for youth development practices. In Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (pp. 351-371). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (2004). Contexts for mentoring: Adolescent-adult relationships in workplaces and communities. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of Adolescent Psychology (2nd ed.), (pp. 395-428). New York: Wiley.
Hamilton, S. F., Hamilton, M. A., & Pittman, K. (2004). Principles for youth development. In Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (pp. 3-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.). (2004). The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hamilton, M. A. (2003). Social influence processes: How mentors foster character and competence. In F. Achtenhagen (Series & Vol. Ed.) & E.G. John (Series Ed.), Milestones of vocational and occupational education and training: Vol. 2. Institutional perspectives of vocational and occupational education and training (pp. 145-153). Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann Verlag.
Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (2003). Learning by teaching: How instructing apprentices affects adult workers. In J. Oelkers (Ed.), Futures of education II: Essays from an interdisciplinary symposium, (pp. 251-269). Bern: Peter Lang.
Hamilton, M.A., & Hamilton, S.F. (2002). Why mentoring in the workplace works. In J. Rhodes (Ed.) New directions in youth development (pp. 59-89). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (2000). Research, intervention, and social change: Improving adolescents' career opportunities. In L.J. Crockett & R.K. Silbereisen (Eds.), Negotiating adolescence in times of change: Concepts and research. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (1999, November). Building Strong School-to-Work Systems: Illustrations of key components. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (1999). Creating new pathways to adulthood by adapting German apprenticeship in the United States. In W.R. Heinz (Ed.), From education to work: Cross-national perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hamilton, M.A., & Hamilton, S.F. (1997). When is work a learning experience? Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 682 689.
Hamilton, S.F., & Hamilton, M.A. (1992). Mentoring programs: Promise and paradox. Phi Delta Kappan, 73, 546-550.