6166 Vilas Hall
Expertise and Activities
I’m a doctoral candidate under the mentorship of Marie-Louise Mares. My work explores how to best leverage and design media to promote positive outcomes among children and families – particularly children and families of color, of LGBTQ+ identities, and of lower-income backgrounds. My current research examines strategies that parents can use in their conversations with their children about media to foster outcomes such as self-esteem, resilience, and inclusivity, and I also explore the developmental implications of media messages related to diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and income.
My background is in childhood education and early child development. I’m a former elementary school teacher who has taught in Brooklyn, New York and rural Costa Rica and who has developed curricula for preschool and elementary school children in the United States, Costa Rica, and Kenya. I’ve also worked with hundreds of children and families and their schools as a researcher and liaison for various projects in child development labs at Tufts University and Harvard University. I have also interned with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop to develop practitioner-facing guides to support children’s connected learning across their communities, and also worked with WGBH-Boston as part of a research team, designing a successful, open-source socioemotional development curriculum for elementary school students based on the hit series Arthur.
- M.A., Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020
- Ed.M., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014
- M.S., Childhood Education, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 2011
- B.A., Anthropology, Williams College, 2009
- Top Student Paper Award, Children, Adolescents, and Media Division of the International Communication Association, 2022
- Elliott Dissertation Scholarship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2021
- Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2021
- Pearce Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2021
- Future Faculty Partner, UW-Madison Teaching Academy, 2021
- Helen K. Herman Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020
- Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 2020
- Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 2019
- Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017
- Leadership in Education Award, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2013
- Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award Nominee, Teach For America, 2011
- James B. Orton Award in Anthropology, Williams College, 2009
- Class of 1960 Scholar, Williams College, 2009
- CA272: Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- HT-123: Informal Learning for Children, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Social Emotional Learning Through Kindness in the Classroom, University of Colorado-Boulder
McClain, A.K., & Mares, M.-L. (2022). Media messages: Intersections of media and ethnic-racial socialization among African American families. Research in Human Development.
McClain, A. K. (2021). Connecting research, children’s media, and identity during the U.S. Black Lives Matter movement. Journal of Children and Media.
McClain, A. K., & Mares, M. L. (2020). Race and representation: Black parents’ hopes for their children’s media. Center for Communication Research. University of Wisconsin-Madison. https://ccr.commarts.wisc.edu/projects/childrens-and-parents-responses-to-media/
McClain, A. K. (2020). Angles of the youth digital divide. International Journal of Communication, 14, 3499-3501.
Mares, M.-L., & McClain, A. K. (2020). Using media to promote inclusive attitudes in childhood and adolescence. In The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781119011071.iemp0082