Thematic Research Areas
HDFS research in Lifespan Human Development focuses on the ecological perspective to the physical, cognitive and social/personality dimensions of individuals in the primary contexts of development, including the family, community/neighborhood and the broader culture. Faculty members, including Schiamberg, Griffore, Phenice, Miller, Stansbury, Onaga, Silvey, Qin, Parra, Villaruel, K. Wampler, and Ames, currently utilize an ecological perspective to frame development over the life course by focusing on the lifespan dimensions of current and compelling practical issues of lifespan human development. These issues include elder abuse, long-term care (in the community and in nursing homes) and health care for older adults, the effects of homelessness on development, adolescent bullying, development in inner city schools, immigrant adolescent development, tribal health concerns such as obesity and exercise, implications of early development on later life, fathering in human development, life course implications of attachment theory on development and relationships, and the design of ecological communities to foster inclusion of special needs children and positive individual/family development. The hallmark of HDFS research in lifespan human development involves the integration of individual development and the critical contexts of development, using cutting-edge systems science analysis and modeling techniques to appreciate and to better understand the diversity, resilience and strengths of individuals and families over the life course. This research is further enhanced by strong faculty connections, participation and leadership roles in major family and human development professional organizations, including NCFR, SRCD, GSA and SSHD (Society for the Study of Human Development), the primary national/international lifespan development professional organization.
Faculty affiliated with Family Diversity have streams of research that emphasize the impact of socio-cultural influences on and meaning making of diverse families. This includes the intersection between culture and varying economic/social statuses on family processes and child outcomes primarily among diverse ethnic/racial groups in a wide range of ecological contexts. Other lines of research stress cultural adaptation and relevance in applied settings. Faculty in this area may also investigate family diversity as it relates to groups primarily defined by the experiences of disability or poverty. Drs. Carolan, Griffore, Johnson, Miller, Onaga, Parra, Phenice, Qin, Silvey, Villarruel, and R. Wampler examine African American, Latino, American Indian, Chinese and Chinese American, Sudanese and other immigrant parenting processes in relation to varying contexts such as schools, poverty, neighborhoods, mental health/health services and programs, incarceration, and global settings. The outcomes of children and youth as influenced by these same socio-cultural processes and contexts are also under simultaneous study in many faculty programs of research.
Prevention and Intervention
Multiple HDFS Faculty engage in the development and evaluation of prevention and intervention programming for vulnerable populations of families, children, and individuals. This work engages faculty and students in the scientific processes for designing, implementing and evaluating the effects of prevention and intervention programming. The focus of some current work includes: abuse and neglect across the lifespan, early childhood workforce training including professional development for in-service teachers, reintegration of military personnel, parenting, eating disorders, substance abuse, and foster families, to name a few. Further these faculty work to enhance program design by evaluating new intervention processes including creating culturally relevant programming and identifying new technology used for remote service-delivery. These faculty are affiliated with numerous units across campus including University Outreach and Engagement as well as community partners from across the state, nation, and world, providing students the opportunity for multiple research partnerships, internships, and mentors.
Social Emotional Health and Well-Being
Drs. Brophy-Herb, Griffore, Johnson, Stansbury, and Vallotton have programs of research investigating aspects of early social and emotional development and the early biological, psychosocial, behavioral and contextual processes, including cultural contexts, which influence development in these areas. Their scholarly work includes both basic and translational research models. HDFS is also a co-leader (Brophy-Herb, co-Director) in the Interdepartmental Graduate Certification in Infancy and Early Childhood. This program provides a multidisciplinary forum for students to gain competencies across key areas such as research and evaluation and policy and advocacy, as well as provides students access to faculty from a variety of units across campus.
Language and Literacy
Drs. Gerde, Skibbe, and Vallotton are implementing programs of translational research in language and literacy development in early childhood including the contexts of schools and families, with a particular focus on at-risk populations. As part of this emphasis, faculty and students work to implement and evaluate intervention programs that advance instructional techniques and educational opportunities for children at risk for reading difficulties. These faculty are affiliated with the Literacy Achievement Research Center (MSU College of Education), which puts students and faculty in touch with more than a dozen other faculty studying this area.
Families and Health
Faculty affiliated with Families and Health thematic area have streams of research that investigate and emphasize the impact of health issues on individual and family outcomes. A number of HDFS faculty are involved in studies of obesity among children and adults. For example, Drs. Griffore, Phenice and Silvey are investigating health disparities among Native American populations. Drs. Brophy-Herb and Stansbury (with College of Nursing faculty) are studying parent-toddler interactions at mealtime as they relate to toddlers’ self regulatory capacity, including feeding self regulation. Dr. Carolan focuses on how oppression influences health for women and children in low income and ethnic families. Dr. Blow is examining the links between mental health and physical health as he investigates the relationships among spiritual and emotional well-being and breast cancer treatment. Results from these and other investigations have important implications for enhancing the health and well-being of individuals and families across the lifespan.