Human Development and Family Studies

HDFS Newsletter 2-28-13

Bethany Blair

Bethany's dissertation examined dyadic effects of mothers' beliefs on their children's perceptions of friendship quality across middle childhood. Her findings highlight the role of dyadic context in children's relational development. In her time at UNCG, Bethany's research has focused on socioemotional development in childhood and adolescence, with a particular emphasis on peer relationships and social technology use. While doing her PhD, Bethany had a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to be a pre-doctoral fellow in Finland where she studied youth’s social media use. Along with Anne Fletcher, her advisor, Bethany has published an intriguing article entitled: “The Only 13-Year-Old on Planet Earth Without a Cell Phone”: Meanings of Cell Phones in Early Adolescents’ Everyday Lives. They found that cell phones are part of both adolescents’ growing autonomy and their ongoing connectedness with parents. Bethany will continue her research as a post-doctoral fellow on the RIGHT Track project at UNCG.


Melvin Herring

HDFS congratulates Melvin Herring on completing his doctoral dissertation. He found that a negative school climate (i.e., teacher neglect, peer rejection, discrimination) detrimentally affects the grades of male African American adolescents. In such school settings, these males are more likely to have internalizing (e.g., anxiety, depression) or externalizing (bullying, delinquent acts) problems. Families matter, however, in that the detrimental impact of a negative school climate is reduced for adolescents whose families function more positively. Melvin is the second African American male (Christian Friend being the first) to earn a doctorate in our department. Melvin is currently a visiting assistant professor at Johnson C. Smith/Metropolitan College in Charlotte teaching in their Social Work program. Melvin’s advisors were Stephanie Coard and Andy Supple.


Christine Maynard

Christine Maynard studies teacher-child interpersonal dynamics. In her secondary data analysis of three national datasets, she found that teacher-child relationships are consistently related to children's academic outcomes and classroom behavior, whereas group level measures of interaction quality were less often significantly related to outcomes. Children whose relationships with their teachers were marked by closeness, a sense of being in tune, and little conflict scored better on academic assessments and were scored as having fewer problem behaviors and more positive behaviors in the classroom. Her findings highlight the importance of preparing early childhood teachers to build positive relationships with all children. Christine is continuing her research of teacher-child interpersonal dynamics by examining relevant measurement issues. She will begin her new position as an assistant professor in the HDFS department at Iowa State University in the fall. Christine is very grateful for the incredible collaborative opportunities she's had with the BK faculty in the department and will miss the Spartan undergrads she's had the opportunity to teach over the last several years. Karen LaParo was Christine’s advisor.


Nicole Brown Perry

Nicole’s dissertation, supervised by Susan Calkins, examined the way in which reactions in the central and parasympathetic nervous systems are linked to how infants react behaviorally to frustrating situations. At 5 months, an inconsistent pattern of results suggested that for such young children the mildly frustrating task may have been more interesting than frustrating. By age 10 months, physiological regulation of the parasympathetic and central nervous system during frustration were positively correlated with one another and associated with regulatory strategies 10 month-old infants employed. Maternal sensitivity was found to be important for the development of parasympathetic nervous system regulation such that maternal sensitivity at 5 months predicted increases in parasympathetic regulation from 5 months to 10 months. Nicole will be staying at UNCG as post-doctoral scholar continuing to work with Susan Calkins.


Shuntay McCoy

Shuntay did a qualitative study of African American students’ educational identities.  Andrea Hunter and Andy Supple were Shuntay’s advisors.  In the abstract of her dissertation Shuntay wrote:

African American students experience school socialization that exposes them to racial segregation, economic stratification, and route learning masked as education.  Schools engage in macro-level socialization practices that restrict African American students’ postsecondary options, skew their perceptions of postsecondary opportunities, and provide substandard preparation for educational advancement.  Consequently African American families are compelled to engage in socialization practices that buffer against the adverse influences of racism, oppression, and dehumanization that threaten African American students’ pro-social identity development within a racialized society.  African American families engage in racial socialization that includes the educational socialization of African American students through educational modeling, educational continuation, and educational trailblazing.
In 2011-12, Shuntay served as President of UNCG’ Graduate Student Association. Shuntay is currently teaching at North Carolina A & T State University.