Carol A. Markstrom, Ph.D.

Child Development and Family Studies
Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development

College of Education and Human Services
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6122


Office: 506G Allen Hall
Phone: (304) 293-3344


Hello and welcome to my web pages. I am a Professor at West Virginia University (WVU) in the Department of Technology, Learning, and Culture in the College of Human Resources and Education where I coordinate the undergraduate and graduate programs in Child Development and Family Studies. I also am a core member of the Native American Studies Program at WVU and support that program through service and teaching. My interest in American Indians extends back to my childhood growing up in Minnesota, and was solidified through work with Ojibwe and Dakota Sioux families and adolescents in Minnesota and South Dakota. My B.S. was earned in Family Relationships from the University of Minnesota (1981). Subsequently, I received an M.S. (1985) in Child Development and Family Relations from North Dakota State University during which time I also taught at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Tribal College in South Dakota. In 1985, I moved west to complete my Ph.D. (1988) in developmental psychology from Utah State University. After receiving my doctorate, I served in an academic appointment at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada and subsequently accepted an academic appointment at WVU in 1993 which has been my home since that time. During my professional development leave in 1999 I stayed on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona and did the same on the San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona in 2007 where I consulted at the high school working with troubled youth. Both of these experiences yielded many personal and professional connections that continue to this day.

I am delighted to announce the recent publication of my book, Empowerment of North American Indian Girls: Ritual Expressions at Puberty (University of Nebraska Press), which encompasses results of my field research on contemporary expressions of puberty rituals as well as a multidisciplinary analysis of these vital ceremonies entrenched in ancient oral traditions and practices. Traveling extensively, engaging in participant observation research, forming new friends along the way, and writing this book were amazing learning experiences. I am keenly interested in American Indian history, beliefs, and ritual practices and, consistent with my background as a developmental psychologist, study indigenous models of human development and the roles of rituals as mechanisms designed to promote optimal outcomes across the life span. Adolescence, in particular, is the age span of particular relevance in my work as indicated in my scholarly publications on identity formation, ego strength, and structured activity involvement. The Psychosocial Inventory of Ego Strengths (PIES) is an instrument my graduate students and I developed in the 1990s and has been widely adopted for use by scholars. I am a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research on Adolescence, and other professional organizations including my role as President of the Society for Research on Identity Formation.

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