CEHD News FSoS Student News

CEHD News FSoS Student News

Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium highlights professor’s contributions to improve marital relationships

Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the 2018 Cornerstone Symposium lecture Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. in the McNamara Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Doctor David Olson
Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the FSoS Cornerstone Symposium lecture April 5.

One of the pioneers in couple and marriage therapy, Olson will discuss how he and U of M colleagues bridged research, theory, and practice to create the pioneering Circumplex Model, a systemic model based on three major relationship dimensions: cohesion, flexibility, and communication. Used in a variety of settings with couples and families, the assessment provides diagnostic information that is useful for treatment planning, clinical intervention, and assessing the clinical outcome. The model has been used as the foundation for more than 1,000 research studies worldwide.

He joined the University’s Department of Family Social Science faculty in 1973, and served as Director of Graduate Programs from 1973-1987.  He also served as acting head of the Department in 1989. He conducted research studies of health family systems, marital and family conflict, premarital preparation and marriage enrichment programs, mediation approaches to child custody, and family treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. He has written or edited over 20 books and published more than 100 articles. He currently serves on the editorial boards of six family journals.

Founder and president of Prepare/Enrich (Life Innovations), Olson created a simplified version of his assessment that has been used with over 4 million premarital and married couples around the globe to improve the health and resilience of their relationships.

He is a fellow of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the American Psychological Association. He has served as president of the National Council on Family Relations and the Upper Midwest Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. He was honored by both AAMFT and the American Family Therapy Association with Distinguished Contributions to Family Therapy Research Awards, as well as the University of Minnesota’s Legacy and Research Excellence Awards.

Olson was honored with Professor Emeritus status in 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s in psychology from Wichita State University, and his doctoral degree from Penn State.

More about Family Social Science

The Department of Family Social Science is in the College of Education + Human Development. Formed in 1970, the Department of Family Social Science features academic programs that are future-focused, comprehensive, and transdisciplinary. FSoS scholars not only discover new knowledge, they are committed to collaborating with families, communities, and agencies to identify challenges and create evidence-based solutions. Its multi-disciplinary focus in a research-intensive institution makes it distinctive and unique.

 

FSoS professor launches last doctoral advisee

Corey Yeager and Bill Doherty.
L to r: Ph.D. candidate Corey Yeager and FSoS Professor Bill Doherty. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science doctoral candidate Corey Yeager successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation in a mid-December session attended by a supportive crowd of faculty, friends and family. But the most unique facet of Yeager’s doctoral candidacy is the distinction of being Professor Bill Doherty’s last advisee.

Doherty, who joined the Department of Family Social Science in 1986, says he  will continue to serve on graduate student committees, but he feels he’s at an age where taking on new students for the doctoral degree process (normally around five-years) would not be a good idea for the student.

“I couldn’t be more delighted that Corey was my final student,” said Doherty. “He learned and grew tremendously, and is already making wonderful contributions to the practice and theory of family social science.”

Doherty says Yeager is a prime example of the Department of Family Social Science’s focus on developing community partnerships.  That’s a big change he’s noticed over his 30 years of advising doctoral candidates. They enter the program seeking to understand the bigger picture of issues affecting families across the lifespan, and finding their unique research path to make an impact.

He has also observed that some candidates often must cope with the anxiety of their family and community about their doctoral ambitions.  “Especially in communities of color, there’s apprehension that if someone gets their doctoral degree, they’ll abandon their community,” said Doherty. “That’s not true with Corey—he’s thoroughly engaged.”

Addressing community challenges

Yeager has worked since 2013 in Minneapolis Public Schools’ Office of Black Male Student Achievement (OBMSA) that addresses the achievement gap in the district’s black male students – the largest demographic group in the district.

He steps into a new role as Educational Equity Director that will focus on professional development for administrators, teachers, and support staff to address the gap. According to OBMSA, black male students lag behind their white male counterparts in every achievement indicator, and have a 39 percent high school graduation rate, compared to white male students’ 65 percent.

“My graduate work and the ability to access, understand, and use meaningful research to support OMBSA’s work has been very helpful,” said Yeager.

As part of his doctoral work, Yeager and Doherty collaborated with black male students at South High School to create the “Relationship Project.” Using the framework Doherty has developed with his Families and Democracy Project, the two researchers listened and learned from the young men, who chose to work on improving their relationships with teachers and their female peers as a way to address their achievement gap.

The two helped the young men improve their communication skills to interview teachers and learn more about them, while the students organized a peer panel of young women to understand the behaviors they display that create discomfort, and what they could do better. Yeager says the work has been powerful for all involved and achieved positive results for the students.

Communities as co-producers

Doherty says this democratic approach builds credibility and trust with individuals, families and partnering organizations.  He has spent his career honing this framework that recognizes a community as a base of both knowledge and action.

The temptation of academia he says, is to go into a partnership with a top down mindset as the “expert deliverer of new knowledge.”

“But when you access both the academic knowledge and the knowledge that resides in those communities – that’s dynamite,” he says. Being able to implement that kind of approach requires developing communication and facilitation skills that foster open community engagement.

“Never start with a powerpoint,” says Doherty. Doherty advises dialogue – ask those in the room to share what they know, what they’ve observed, and how they feel about the issue at hand.

“I call it ‘being on tap’ rather than ‘being on top,’” he says. “The dialogue builds trust and appreciation for listening and we – the academics – become resources.”

Yeager expressed his own appreciation for Doherty’s mentorship in attaining his doctoral degree.

“Dr. Doherty was a guide, trainer, motivator, therapist and confidant for me through this doctoral journey,” he said. “I am ever indebted to him and will work diligently to repay him for all he has become to me…”

Learn more

You can learn more about Professor Doherty’s work at the Citizen Professional Center site.

Family Social Science makes presence felt at national conference

FSoS Associate Professor Jenifer McGuire opens a session on trans gender youth at NCFR 2017.

 

The hashtag #UMNProud was a presence  at the National Council on Family Relations’ annual conference in Orlando in November.

Current students (26), faculty and research associates (13) and alumni (25, including a professor emerita) from the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota made presentations, moderated panels, and led special sections dialogues, as well as discussed their research in poster sessions across the four days of the national meeting.

Their topics spanned the growing range of family social science research – from transgender youth and young adults in context, to familial and neighborhood influences on obesity, to military service and its impact on families.  The Department of Family Social Science is among the national leaders advancing theory and practice to improve the well-being of diverse families.

In addition, grad student Samantha LeBouef was publicly recognized for her national Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for a paper she presented at the conference.

The University of Minnesota was also among 18 institutions promoting their family social science departments to potential grad students during University Receptions Thursday evening.

Here’s a selection of graduate student presentations, posters and papers:

Molly White Bailey, Anti-racists Identity Development – poster;

Natasha Bell, Children and Finances in Divorce Decision-making – poster;

Gretchen Buchanan, Conceptualization of What Constitutes a Strong Family – poster;

Sarah Burcher, Work or Family? A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative meaning and value of employment from the perspective of low-income women – presentation;

Daniel Cooper, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families, presentation; and Examining biracial identity development: Key concepts and assumptions – poster;

Lekie Dwanyen, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families – presentation;

Renada Goldberg, Using CPBR in Policy Analysis: Assessing Paid Sick Leave and African Americans – poster;

Heather Hessel, Different Paths: Comparing College-Going and Non-college Youth – poster;

Emily Jordan, Barriers to Rural Mental Health Care: Clinicians’ Perspectives – presentation;

Angela Keyzers, Sensation-seeking and Emerging Adult Online Risk Behavior – presentation;

Samantha LeBouef, Near, Far, Wherever you are: Siblings and Social Media Communication – paper;

Sun-Kyung Lee, Well-Being of Emerging Adults: How Family and Friends Matter – poster;

Na Zhang, Relationships between mindfulness facets and observed anger expression: An actor partner interdependence analysis with post-deployed military families – poster;

Jingchen Zhang, Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as a moderator – poster.

About the conference

The NCFR’s annual conference attracts more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners from across the globe with the goal to highlight research, feature evidence-based best practices and critically examine policies that impact families and communities.

 

 

Family Social Science: It’s all about connections

Family Social Science Professor/ITR Director Abi Gewirtz has collaborated with current and former grad students on a new article for “Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of applied Family Studies,” published by the National Council on Family Relations.

Gewirtz, current FSOS grad student, Na Zhang, and Osnat Zamir, Ph.D., an associate professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have written “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” It is currently available pre-publication at NCFR’s online library.

Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student in Family Social Science, is a native of China and began examining the effects of mindfulness as a master’s degree student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she stood out to Gewirtz, who was there teaching a graduate course in prevention science.

Dr. Gewirtz supervised Zamir’s post-doctoral appointment (2011-2016) in FSoS and ITR where she joined Gewirtz’s ADAPT research project. Zamir had been recommend by Dr. Yoav Lavee, a FSoS alum and CEHD Distinguished International Alumnus Awardee. He is currently is on faculty at the University of Haifa, Israel, where Zamir received her Ph.D. degree. Gewirtz served on the CEHD award committee that honored Dr. Lavee.

Family Social Science Focus on: Student Achievement

Samantha LeBouef.
Family Social Science graduate student Samantha LeBouef.

Grad student Samantha LeBouef has won a national award from the National Council on Family Relations. She won a Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for her paper, “Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Siblings and Social Media Communication” that she’ll be presenting at the NCFR annual conference later this month. The award recognizes students’ quality proposals and comes with a cash travel award to the annual conference. LeBouef will also present at the annual conference for the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood in Washington, D.C.

LeBouef, is co-president of the graduate student organization, SHARK,  and her advisor is Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head of Family Social Science.

Family Social Science hosts undergraduate showcase

Jiayin (Julia) Qian and Alicia Kim posed for a photo during a past Undergraduate Showcase.

 

The Department of Family Social Science will host the Fall Semester Undergraduate Showcase Monday, Dec. 4, 5:15 – 6:45 p.m. The event will begin in McNeal Hall room 33 and then move upstairs to McNeal rooms 274 and 278 on the University’s St. Paul campus.  Refreshments will be served.

Family Social Science Undergraduate Showcase gives undergrads the opportunity to showcase their scholarly work related to their field experiences for family, friends and the FSOS community. The FSOS Field Study requirement is generally completed by senior students close to graduation. Students are asked to complete 180 hours of work in local or global communities. During the Showcase students display their ability to synthesize theoretical classroom learning with practical real-world experiences. These experiences also allow students to explore potential employment opportunities.

Through excellence in academics, contributions to research projects, and immersion in work, internship, and volunteer experiences in communities both domestic and abroad, FSOS undergraduates are dedicated to enhancing the well being of diverse families in a changing world.

The event is held both in fall and spring semesters and helps students develop their presentation and communication skills in discussing their academic projects.

For more information or to RSVP, visit the Showcase webpage.

Family Social Science faculty and students storm south for national conference

Nine students in the Department of Family Social Science’s Ph.D. specialization in Couple and Family Therapy are presenting their research at the annual meeting of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy held in Atlanta, GA.

In addition, four FSOS faculty members – Steven Harris, Tai Mendenhall, Lindsey Weiler and Elizabeth Wieling –  will also be presenting and leading workshops and research discussions during the four-day conference.

Students attending include Kadie Ausherbauer, Jackie Braughton, Sarah Crabtree, Daniel Cooper, Lekie Dwanyen, Eugene Hall, Heather Hensel, Aimee Hubbard and Damir Utzran.

Their research represents the breadth of key topics affecting families nationally and internationally including: investigations with Syrian refugees resettled to the United States, local needs assessments conducted with resettled Liberian families, parenting dynamics in a Mexican context, sexual satisfaction and dysfunction and marital separation research.

“Our students are conducting research on critical issues impacting families, especially those affected by social disparities,” said Elizabeth Wieling, associate professor and program director of the Couple and Family Therapy doctoral specialization in Family Social Science. “Each of their studies represent cutting edge work advancing the clinical and implementation fields of research.”

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) represents more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists. The Department of Family Social Science Ph.D. program’s Couple and Family Therapy specialization is among the 20 academic programs accredited by AAMFT in the country.

More about this program

Tai Mendenhall, associate professor in Family Social Science,  addressed the National Institutes of Health’s Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health in August.

Lindsey Weiler, assistant professor in Family Social Science, led a research team gathering data at the Minnesota State Fair.

Graduate students Kadie Ausherbauer and Heather Hensel won a national ethics competition.

Family Social Science team gathers data at state fair

Amber Anderson gets a fair visitor started on the FSOS team’s survey. Photo by Julie Michener.

 

More than 400 parents and guardians of school aged children were surveyed on how communities can better support children during the Minnesota State Fair.

Assistant Professor Lindsey Weiler, Ph.D., led a Department of Family Social Science team at the new Driven 2 Discover Research Facility three days during the recent fair. They were among 37 teams from the University of Minnesota seeking research participants over the course of the Minnesota State Fair in the D2D facility.

Weiler and her team were collecting data for a research study, “How to Build a 21st Century Village,” and surveyed 425 respondents to gain their insights on the following questions:

  • It might be true that it takes a village to raise a child, but what does that look like in 2017?
  • How do parents connect their children to other caring role models or mentors?
  • What do parents do when they move to a new community or live away from extended family?
  • How can parents unlock the power of community when raising children?

“We were looking for State Fair visitors to help us understand how today’s parents build a village of safe and supportive family, friends, and neighbors,” says Weiler. “I was very happy with the turnout and received positive feedback from fairgoers. The students had a great experience too!”

Seven students assisted Weiler over the three days, including three Family Social Science graduate students, Angela Keyzers, Vaida Kazlauskaite, and Sarah Burcher, and four undergraduate students, Family Social Science Majors Ka Lor and Amberson Anderson, Psychology Major Koisey Hiama, and Urban Studies Major Sarah Hill.

Next steps include analyzing the data to understand parents’ experiences of building their own villages and making important connections for their children, and then developing an intervention for parents seeking mentors for their children.

McNair Program is launchpad for future scholars

Chen Vue discusses his research with guests at the McNair Program poster session and reception in August.

Family Social Science Senior Chen Vue drew from his own experience as a starting point on research that he hopes will help other students in his community make the leap to higher education.

A 2017 McNair program scholar, Vue, guided by his faculty mentor Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, a professor in the Department of Family Social Science, examined how much a parent’s involvement in their child’s school and at home influenced academic achievement and performance.

His project grew out of the challenges he overcame to attend the University of Minnesota.

“My research was about what predictors would engage parental involvement at home/school that would influence Hmong children’s academic performance,” says Vue. “I chose this topic because it connects to my story growing up as a low income immigrant student struggling in my academics. I want to use this research as a bridge not for myself but for others to follow into graduate school and research. I plan to continue to study parental involvement as I progress into graduate school.”

His research project included a review of current literature that suggested that homes where two parents are present, the degree of English fluency, the size of the family and the age of children all had an influence on academic performance, but results were inconclusive. Vue and his team worked with a Twin Cities elementary school and parents to conduct survey of 332 students. His research indicated parents’ engagement with their children’s school and teachers had a bigger impact than just their influence at home.

Senior Chen Vue and his faculty mentor, Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, professor of Family Social Science. Photo by Julie Michener.

“I believe Chen learned a lot during the summer about the research process, from creating a research question to selecting the appropriate variables for the analysis,” said Xiong. “Chen is such a brilliant, hardworking scholar. I was so glad to have the opportunity to mentor him. I have really enjoyed working with all the brilliant students in the McNair Scholars program.”

About the McNair program

Named for Physicist Ronald McNair, who was a member of NASA’s ill-fated Challenger space shuttle that exploded moments after liftoff in 1986, the McNair Scholars Program is among the educational opportunity TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education that help first generation college students with financial need, or those who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups.

The McNair prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities with the goal to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

Students receive financial support for a ten-week summer research apprenticeship that include weekly seminars that help them prepare for graduate school as well as year-round seminars and advising.

The program is administered at the University of Minnesota with support from the College of Education and Human Development, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity.

Students sharing South Korea experience

Three Family Social Science undergraduate students are among a College of Education and Human Development group exploring and blogging about South Korean culture, language, and education during a  study abroad course. Faculty leaders are CEHD Program Specialist Marina Aleixo and Dr. Catherine Solheim from FSoS (who joins the group August 12).

Nina Thao, Cathy Xiong, and Isabella Xiong will be sharing their experience as they examine the historical background of Korean education and its impact on current social, political and educational policies. They will return to the Twin Cities August 23.

Students pose for a photo during their South Korean study abroad experience.

Family Social Science grad students win national competition

Heather Hessel (left) pictured with Lynne Borden, head of FSoS. was also the recipient of a CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle scholarship. Photo by Julie Michener.

 

Heather Hessel and Kadie Ausherbauer, doctoral students in the Department of Family Social Science, won first place in the Doctoral Category of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2017 Student Ethics Competition.

“Being grounded in ethics and knowledgeable about ethical practices is essential to credible research and professional practice,” said Lynne Borden, head of the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. “These two young professionals are positive role models for our community and leaders of the future.”

Only in its second year, the competition is designed, according to AAMFT, to “foster an interest in ethical issues and enhance their ability to analyze and respond to the various ethics issues that they will undoubtedly encounter throughout their career.”

The ethics competition has two categories: one for Master’s and PDI students and one for Ph.D. students. Open to teams of two to three students at the same program level, the competition is unique because students do not know the exact case study on which they will be asked to respond until after they have registered. The “hypothetical scenario” is posted on the AAMFT’s website and students have six weeks to research, analyze, and write an essay.

“Our essay required that we research and discuss ethical codes, legal statutes, and commentaries on ethical issues,” said Hessel. “As is usually the case with ethics questions, there was quite a bit of “gray” area to debate between ourselves. We also selected and applied an established ethical decision-making model to the scenario, which helped us provide additional structure to our response.”

A fourth-year doctoral student, Hessel is working on a dissertation that explores how both noncollege and college-going emerging adults are using communication technology with extended family members.

Kadie Ausherbauer teamed up with Heather Hessel to win the national ethics competition sponsored by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

“I had a great time working on this project,” said Kadie Ausherbauer. “It was interesting to sift through areas where best practices didn’t correspond with specific ethical codes, so some things that initially seemed very problematic weren’t necessarily violations of the code of ethics. We applied the ethical decision making model to find ways that the hypothetical therapist could have prevented or improved the situation at different junctures in the process.”

Ausherbauer is a third year doctoral student whose research centers on development of self-regulation, early childhood trauma and micro-level behavioral analyses.

In addition to a cash prize, both Hessel and Ausherbauer were awarded complimentary registration, hotel accommodations and airfare to attend the AAMFT’s annual conference in Atlanta in October. Their winning essay will also be published on the AAMFT’s website and will be recognized in the organization’s publications and other communication channels.