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Faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies conduct basic and applied research related to the development of individuals and families across the lifespan, using a variety of methodological tools. We are guided by the principle that research should not only contribute to scientific knowledge but should also be translated into programs, policies, and applications that promote positive development for individuals, families, and communities. As such, across the department, our efforts are congruent with a growing focus in the field of prevention and intervention science.

Faculty members in HDFS collaborate extensively across disciplines with researchers in other units at CSU such as the Departments of Psychology, Occupational Therapy, and Health and Exercise Science, and the Schools of Social Work, Education, and Public Health. Faculty members are also actively engaged with CSU Extension, and with entities outside CSU such as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Education, and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Thematic Research Areas

Research in HDFS covers the lifespan, from infancy and early childhood through older adulthood. Across the lifespan, faculty address a number of topics in areas broadly defined as relating to:

Our faculty members pursue research programs related to why at-risk individuals have favorable outcomes, processes related to developmental psychopathology and atypical development, the nature of risk-taking behaviors, and developmental disabilities.

Most faculty members in HDFS are concerned with translational research: How to devise effective intervention and treatment strategies that are based on empirical evidence and careful program evaluations. Such endeavors encompass school-based programs, substance abuse prevention for youth and treatment for young adults, Extension programs, interventions that promote work/family balance, and evaluations of family therapy. Policy analysis also is a key part of prevention science.

Socioemotional processes are a focus of HDFS faculty research (e.g., emotional development; attachment) as are various aspects of regulation including self-regulation and emotion regulation. Such processes are essential to school readiness and success, which is a common thread of several faculty research programs. Relational processes include a focus on parenting, family caregiving, and family/school linkages.

Several faculty members focus their research on emerging adulthood and development in midlife and the later part of the lifespan, as well as intergenerational family relationships. Developmental processes include healthy aging, awareness of age-related change, cognitive, and self-regulation changes across the adult years.

Consistent with HDFS’s basis in ecological theory, many faculty conduct research on cultural diversity, on gender and power dynamics in families, and on other forms of diversity. Also, multiple graduate courses are infused with content related to culture, ethnicity, and gender. Several journal articles describe our infusion model, and the department has been honored with awards for our innovations related to diversity.

HDFS faculty members have expertise in the application of sophisticated research methods and analytical techniques to basic research questions (e.g., dynamic systems methods, multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, daily diary methods, qualitative methods) as well as to real-world problems of program evaluation. Such expertise is invaluable as students learn to conduct research on complex social problems.