Button to scroll to the top of the page.

The research practicum (HDF 355) provides students with a variety of skills for entry into the job market or graduate school, such as research methodology, coding, interview skills, and a deeper understanding about the many theoretical frameworks that guide research in HDFS. Professors and their graduate assistants are directly involved and work very closely with the students. Below you will find a link to a list of professors and their research areas. All HDF 355’s meet for approximately ten hours per week. A paper or independent project related to your experiences is required. Prerequisites include statistics and credit for or concurrent enrollment in HDF 315L. It is recommended that students take no more than 12 hours their practicum semester, to allow students to accommodate scheduling hours associated with their 355. Priority for placement will be given to students that have submitted their application by the deadline, have the most flexible schedule, demonstrate excellent academic skills as evidenced by a sound GPA, and are capable of submitting positive references.


Ed Anderson focuses on the adjustment of children and family members to parental divorce, repartnering, and remarriage, especially the role of divorced parent’s dating on children’s development and on family relationships. Activities include coding in-home, videotaped observations of couple, parent-child, and family interactions; transcriptions of interviews with custodial mothers; and coding of school records and teachers’ reports of children’s behavior.

Aprile Benner’s research interests center on the development of low-income and race/ethnic minority youth, investigating how social contexts influence school transitions, experiences of marginalization, and health and well-being during adolescence. Recent research practicum activities have included participating in survey data collection with middle and high school students, coding interviews and focus groups conducted with adolescents and educators, and coding neighborhood content and quality data via Google streetview.

Ted Dix’s research examines how parents’ emotions and thinking processes influence the sensitivity of their parenting. In recent years he has studied how parents’ depression, low child-oriented motivation, and inability to understand children’s emotions and behaviors undermines parents’ ability to respond in sensitive and effective ways. Recent student responsibilities have included reviewing videotapes of mother-child interaction and coding the emotions and behaviors of mother and child.

Karen Fingerman‘s research focuses on the role that family relationships play in the well-being of adults during middle and late life. She has studied generational differences in emotion during family conflict, systems of family obligation and resource exchange, the implicit rules that regulate social exchanges across generations, and how conflicts between adult family members are initiated and resolved.  She focuses on the support one generation gives to another and on the emotional impact of providing such supports across generations.

Elizabeth Gershoff focuses on the impacts of poverty, community violence, and neighborhoods on child and youth development over time. Her research combines longitudinal and hierarchical methods for understanding the dynamic and multilayered contexts of children’s lives. Other areas of research/scholarly interest: school-based violence prevention, the impact of various parenting techniques on child behavior.

Marci Gleason is interested in dyadic functioning, especially the nature of close relationships examined over time. Her current work explores how cancer patients and their family members make decisions about cancer treatments and how they support each other through cancer treatments.  In addition, she is interested in how personality disorders present across the lifespan.

Nancy Hazen-Swann and Deborah Jacobvitz’s research is based on The Partners and Parents Project. The aim of the Partners and Parents Project is to follow first-time parents over the transition to parenthood to see what factors predict positive styles of parenting, and positive outcomes for children. Beginning in October 1992, we recruited 125 couples that were expecting their first child. Follow up with these families has been on a continuous basis. Student participation may include the following: Office/organizational work, computer work, and coding/ rating videotaped data, which includes parent-child, marital, and family interactions.

Su Yeong Kim studies culture, parenting, and adolescent development in Asian and Latino immigrant families in the U.S. Student responsibilities include coding, entering, cleaning, managing, and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data. Students will also write reports and recruit families for research participation. Students receive training on the use of bibliographic, data management, and statistical software. All students carry out an independent research project during the semester.

Karrol Kitt focuses on topics related to personal finance and resource management. Student responsibilities are determined by the stage of the research project. This could include data collection, coding and/or analysis, and literature review.

Timothy Loving studies how non-marital romantic transitions affect mental and physical health. His lab makes use of experimental, observational, longitudinal, and physiological methodologies to study these and related topics, and gives special attention to the social context in which relationships are embedded. Students assist with all phases of the data collection process, including library research, data cleaning, entry, contacting interested study participants, and conducting experimental sessions with participants.

Lisa Neff studies how and why romantic relationships change over time. Her approach to understanding relationship maintenance and deterioration focuses primarily on cognitive processes within relationships. In particular, two important distinctions for relationship cognitions. First, by examining important differences in the way global and specific perceptions operate within relationships. Secondly, she is examining the independent influences that spouses’ cognitive content, or what they believe about the relationship, and spouses’ cognitive structure, or how they organize and integrate those relationship beliefs, may have for relationship quality and stability. Recently, attention has been focused on examining how the external context surrounding a relationship may affect relationship outcome by investigating how stressful experiences external to a relationship (work stress, financial difficulties, etc.) may affect spouses’ perceptions and evaluations of their relationships.