Research Priorities

CYAF faculty research is responsive to current needs and emerging issues. While CYAF faculty have diverse research interests, the research of each faculty member enhances the well-being of children, youth, adults and families in the state, nation and world by improving the environments in which they live and learn. Faculty member research is focused in the following areas:

1. Early Childhood Education: Science, Nature, Mathematics and Literacy

Science, nature, math and literacy are increasingly recognized as integral components of children's development. CYAF faculty have been exploring children's and teachers' knowledge and experience in these areas to create evidence based practices for optimal teaching and learning opportunities within early care and education settings.

2. Health, Mental Health, Human Development and Intervention

Multiple CYAF faculty members examine many different aspects of optimal development and well-being of individuals and families. Research in this area includes the examination of predictors of mental and physical health and effectiveness of interventions over the entire lifespan. Topics range from preschool children's experiences in the school playground, individuals' responses to pet loss, sexual orientation, and program evaluation for youth programming. These research programs focus on a strength-based approach assuming that all children, families and communities have inherent strengths.

3. International Issues, Culture, and Immigration

Recent demographic shifts in the US, particularly with regard to the surge in the ethnic minority populations have highlighted the need to expand research and theory beyond the traditional focus on majority populations. Faculty within the department have actively conducted research to examine family, child and youth development issues in diverse settings and populations (e.g., Midwest Latino youth and families, Brazil, Korea, Philippines, and China) and the impact of social change and migration on children and families.

4. Rural Populations

Living in rural settings can pose unique challenges for families that have been mostly overlooked in family research. As part of a research university within a rural state, CYAF faculty have actively sought to better understand these issues and have led several large scale projects. Specific areas for research include the impact of rural poverty on women and families the implementation of mental health services through distance delivery.

5. Family Strengths and Resilience

For more than 20 years, faculty within the department have conducted ground breaking research on resilience and thriving in families around the world. More recently, this focus has expanded to include identifying individual, family- and community-level factors that promote thriving in ethnic minority youth and rural women.

6. Teaching Approaches and Intervention

Programming and interventions designed to promote high quality evidence-based care and education is a priority within the department. CYAF faculty members have actively sought to understand what promotes optimal and quality learning and effective interventions in children, families and youth. Activities in this area include research on facilitating school readiness in low income children, predictors of quality early childcare, and effective instructional strategies.

7. Vulnerable Populations

Faculty members within the department examine issues surrounding marginalized, under-represented populations. Research in this area ranges from examining the experiences of families in poverty and the optimal development for adolescents and early childhood achievement to the experiences of street walking prostitutes in the US and worldwide.