Human Development and Family Studies

Exciting Course Offerings

We offer exciting courses each year that address cutting-edge issues. Often this is done using the HDF 602 course number (special topics). Here are some recent and forthcoming examples:

  • African American Families
  • Children, Poverty, and Policy
  • Immigrant Families
  • Psychobiology in Human Development and Family Processes
  • Race, Class, and Culture
  • Relationships across the Life Span
  • Work and Family


Vira Kivett Award

Each year, one of the HDFS graduate students is awarded the Vira R. Kivett Outstanding Graduate Publication Award. This award was created by a former HDFS faculty member to recognize the best student journal publication of the year.

2012-2013 Nicole Brown Perry won the Kivett award for this publication:

“Caregiving Influences on Children’s Physiological Regulation of Emotion Across the Preschool Years”

Trajectories of baseline RSA (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), an index of reactivity, and vagal withdrawal, an index of regulation, across the preschool period were examined. In addition, maternal emotional support was investigated as a potential time-varying predictor of these trajectories. Physiological measures were obtained during frustration tasks, and a maternal emotional support measure was assessed via maternal report and direct observation. Children’s baseline RSA and vagal withdrawal scores were moderately stable across the preschool period. Growth models indicated that children’s baseline RSA scores changed linearly over the preschool years, and there was significant variability in withdrawal trajectories. Greater maternal emotional support predicted higher initial withdrawal levels and lower emotional support was associated with the greatest increase in withdrawal over time. This suggests that children of higher emotionally supportive mothers reached higher levels of physiological regulation earlier in development and therefore did not show the same increase across preschool as children of less supportive mothers. Maternal emotional support was not significantly related to trajectories of baseline RSA.

2011-2012: Bethany Blair won the Kivett Award in 2011-2012 for this publication:

Blair, B. L., & Fletcher, A. C. (2011). “The only 13-year-old on planet earth without a cell phone”: Meanings of cell phones in early adolescents’ everyday lives. Journal of Adolescent Research, 26, 155-177.

Abstract: Cellular telephones have become an increasingly prevalent feature of contemporary American life, with usage often beginning during early adolescence. With this in mind, twenty 7th graders and their mothers participated in separate qualitative interviews regarding early adolescents' use of cell phones as well as perceived risks and benefits of such use. Analyses indicated that early adolescents and their mothers imbued cell phones with a variety of psychological meanings. These meanings included cell phones as a source of connection to family and friends, cell phones as facilitators of adolescent autonomy development, and cell phones as sources of social status. These findings are discussed in relation to psychosocial developmental tasks occurring in early adolescence.

Bethany spent one year of her doctoral study in Finland on a Fulbright Scholarship. She currently is completing her doctoral dissertation, "A Dyadic Approach to the Study of Maternal Influence on Children's Friendship Quality," using national data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. She also is the project coordinator for the RIGHT Track Study, a longitudinal project examining emotion regulation and development over time (Dr. Susan Calkins, Principal Investigator).