These Faculty Members are Accepting Graduate Students for
the 2024-2025 Academic Year

Professor's Mural Affirms Humanity of Black Boys, Men
Interdisciplinary study in food regulation
Dr. Lucia Mendez demonstrating her Bilingualtek project.

Early Childhood Development, Care, and Education

Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Development in Young Children

Several Human Development and Family Studies faculty are interested in the physiological, behavioral, emotional, and mental processes that occur during infancy, toddlerhood, and the preschool years which help to shape children’s developmental trajectories. Using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including longitudinal and cross-cultural designs, we investigate the individual, family, and contextual factors that help young children acquire the competencies associated with positive functioning and well-being.

Specific areas of interest include


Early Childhood Care and Education

Child care and early childhood education classrooms serve as an important context for development and can set the stage for children’s experiences in formal school settings. Human Development and Family Studies has a team made up of faculty are engaged in research intended to identify the practices and policies that promote optimal development for young children, including children with disabilities, English language learners, and children from socio-economically disadvantaged families.

Specific areas of focus include

Current projects include a state-wide assessment of child care quality across home- and center- based Early Childhood Care and Education settings, measurement development projects, secondary data analyses studies with large datasets, and several projects related to early childhood standards and assessments.

See overview of the projects associated with the Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network (PDF).


Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators

Early childhood faculty are involved in cutting edge research to improve the quality of early childhood educators’ practices with children. Along with understanding the teacher characteristics, beliefs, and practices associated with high-quality early childhood experiences, we are interested in identifying effective professional development activities for Early Childhood Care and Education teachers at the pre-service and in-service levels. Current projects include an on-going evaluation of our Early Childhood Development and Education program, and additional studies of pre- and in-service professional development interventions. In addition, faculty have access to large national data sets such as the NICHD Study of Early Child Care to examine questions related to teachers’ characteristics, motivations and job satisfaction.

Click here for an overview of the projects associated with the Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network (PDF).


Parent–Child Relationships

A number of our faculty study parent-child relationships from infancy through adulthood. Core themes of study include identifying predictors of various parenting styles, strategies, and dimensions and examining links between parenting behaviors and child outcomes. Our research generally focuses on identifying underlying mechanisms and describing interaction processes and developmental pathways. Faculty members are examining:

  1. how parents’ beliefs, values, emotions and social cognitions are related to specific parenting behaviors;
  2. links between parental autonomy granting and monitoring and adolescent outcomes;
  3. how parents facilitate and encourage children’s peer relationships;
  4. how child temperament, age and other child characteristics affect parenting behavior and beliefs;
  5. unique parental strategies and processes inherent in African American families (e.g., racial socialization);
  6. and the development and testing of culturally relevant interventions designed to strengthen parenting skills and parent–child relations, and promote child well-being among African American families.

Both basic and applied research is emphasized as are quantitative and qualitative approaches to examining these areas of interest. Faculty use both naturalistic and standardized observational techniques in a variety of contexts (e.g., home, child care, school, laboratory) and utilize both primary and secondary data analysis. Diverse family forms (e.g., biological parents, foster parents, married and divorced parents) and contexts (e.g., race, culture, socioeconomic status) are represented in this body of work. Specific interests and project descriptions are accessible from the following faculty links.


Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

A number of our faculty study adolescent development. We study a variety of developmental tasks that are of critical importance during the adolescent years such as identity formation, achievement, the establishment of intimate relationships, and the development of psychological and behavioral autonomy (to name just a few). A central interest for our faculty is the manner in which adolescent development is shaped by contexts including the family, schools, and peer group. Our interests are both in factors that promote healthy development, such as feelings of gratitude, and in those that place adolescents at risk for problematic development in terms of internalizing disorders, problem behavior, and substance use.


Close Relationships, Marriage, and Divorce

Several UNCG faculty members focus on close relationships, marriage and divorce. Central emphases are how relationships are formed, the quality of ongoing marital and romantic relationships, parent-child relations, the interplay among different relationships, the impact of marital relations on the development and well-being of family members, and relationship dissolution. Examples of specific research topics include the role of family social support in the health disparities among white vs. ethnic minority elderly persons, the interplay between family and work, the ways in which gender influences family roles and life course trajectories, marital quality among new parents of Mexican origins, and African American families. Faculty use multiple levels for looking at close relationships from the experiences, personality and perceptions of the individual, to dyadic processes, to social structural analyses. Theoretical perspectives include life course, feminist, ecological, and attachment viewpoints. The faculty employ a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, with some preponderance of quantitative techniques that include original data collection, secondary analyses and meta-analyses. As applied social scientists, faculty members pursuing this cluster of interests believe that understanding can promote the welfare of individuals in a variety of intimate and family relationships.


Human Development and Family Diversity in Sociocultural Context

A strong core of Human Development and Family Studies faculty study issues of human development and family relationships through a sociocultural lens. Of central interest is how factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, social class and socioeconomic status, and cultural context influence the well-being and experiences of individuals and their families across the life span. Using a variety of epistemologies, and theoretical and methodological approaches, our faculty are interested in within-group and between-group variation across a wide range of topics including parenting and parent–child relationships; racial, ethnic and gender identity and socialization; social networks and relationships; marriage and divorce; mutigenerational families; employment and negotiation of work and family responsibilities; immigration and acculturation; the development of culturally relevant interventions; and, the intersection of public policy and gender, race/ethnicity, and nativity. Our work has examined these issues for a variety of racial/ethnic minority, immigrant, and refugee populations in the United States, including African American, Asian Indian, Hmong, Chinese, and Mexican. Several Human Development and Family Studies faculty are also engaged in international and cross-cultural research in India, Russia, Brazil, Finland, Estonia, Korea, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, and Kenya.