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Poco Donna Kernsmith (ao1717)

Poco Donna Kernsmith (ao1717)

University Information

Title: Professor
Unit: Social Work Instruction Un
Department: School of Social Work

Contact Information

4756 Cass Ave.
Thompson Home
Detroit, 48202

Student Information

School of Medicine
Public Health

Office for Teaching & Learning

Title: Associate Professor
Department: School of Social Work

School of Social Work

Phone: (313) 577-4437
Title: Professor

Poco Kernsmith is an professor at Wayne State University. Her primary research interests include violence in families and relationships, including sexual assault and coercion, dating and domestic violence and stalking. In particular, her interests include examining gender differences in perpetration, interventions with perpetrators, long-term effects of trauma on children, and prevention of violence and abuse. Her recent work focuses on preventing relationship violence among youth, with a particular focus on the role of social media and technology, and policies addressing reentry of sexual offenders. 

Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, Kernsmith practiced social work with survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence. She has experience in crisis intervention, legal advocacy, community education, and interventions with children exposed to violence. Kernsmith is currently involved with several community collaborations to address the detection and prosecution of sexual assault, and community management of convicted sexual offenders.

Dr. Kernsmith teaches courses in research methods, intimate partner and sexual violence, and social work education. She has been involved in service to address curriculum and teaching across the university, including committees on general education, student evaluation of teaching, academic technology, and the advisory board to the Office for Teaching and Learning. She has a research interest in the effectiveness of online education of learning outcomes, professional socialization, and student engagement.

Click here to view Curriculum Vitae

Degrees and Certifications:

  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Policy & Social Research, Department of Social Welfare
  • M.S.W., University of Michigan, Interpersonal Practice major, Community Organization minor
  • B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology and Women's Studies
Teaching Interests:
  • Social work education
  • Research methods

  • Dynamics and intervention with family violence

Areas of Expertise:


    • Violence prevention
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Sexual assault and coercion
    • Stalking
    • Childhood sexual abuse
    • Violent offenders
    • Prisoner reentry
    • Risk taking among youth and young adults


    • Quantitative survey research

    • Program evaluation

    • Qualitative interview research

    • Mixed methods

    • Policy analysis

Research Project:

Supporting Healthy Adolescent Relationships and Environments (SHARE)

In collaboration with Dr. Smith-Darden, the SHARE Study was funded by the CDC for $1 million to explore the etiology of intimate partner violence, with further support from the Wayne State University Office for the Vice President of Research. This four-year longitudinal study examined modifiable risk and protective factors for perpetration of dating violence and stalking among adolescents. The research has identified school connectedness, parental engagement, hopefulness, and community involvement as important protective factors for preventing violent perpetration among youth.

Youth Empowerment Solutions for Healthy Relationships (YES-HR)

The results of the SHARE Study were used to develop a violence prevention intervention with adolescents. This research was funded by the CDC for a four-year, $1.8 million grant to implement and evaluate a school-based prevention approach for perpetration of teen dating and sexual violence. This project was developed in collaboration with Dr. Smith-Darden in the WSU School of Social Work and Dr. Marc Zimmerman at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health. The project will empirically evaluate the infusion of a youth-centered, empowerment-based curriculum into social studies courses for middle school students.


For further details on other research, see Center for Social Work Research:

Office Location: 5447 Woodward Avenue, Rm 257
Courses Taught:
  • SW 7830 Research Methods in Social Work II

    SW 8570 Dynamics and Intervention in Family Violence

    SW 9240 Social Work Education


    SW 9410 Quantitative Research Methods in Social Work

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