Human Development and Family Studies

School of Health and Human Sciences

Dr. Jonathan Tudge’s primary area of research is into the ways in which children become competent in the ways of their culture. My colleagues and I observe 3-year-olds’ typically occurring everyday activities and interactions. We observe the children over the equivalent of one day in their lives, observing wherever they are situated, in home, child-care center, with grandparents, friends, shopping, etc., focusing on the activities in which they are involved, their partners, and their roles. In Greensboro we have equal numbers of Black and White families, half from working class backgrounds and half from middle class backgrounds, and evenly divided by child’s gender. This is also a cross-cultural project, however, and so we have similar data from other societies, including Russia, Estonia, Kenya, Korea, and Brazil. For more information on this project, see my 2008 book. Rachana Karnik, one of my doctoral students, will collect similar data in India.

Dr. Stephanie Irby Coard’s research is devoted to bridging science & culture to improve development, mental health and well-being in youth, families and communities of color.  In doing so, she conducts rigorous basic research that raises awareness and sensitivity to how socio-cultural issues impact developmental, educational and mental processes and outcomes for African American youth and families. Dr. Coard also designs, disseminates and evaluates evidence-based and culturally-appropriate assessment tools and intervention programs for African American youth, families and professionals providing services to them. Specific areas of interest include: prevention of conduct disorder, aggression and violence; racial, ethnic and cultural influences on youth and families; racial socialization processes, racial identity development; resiliency and empowerment, academic achievement, practical and culturally relevant approaches to parenting; and intervention development and community dissemination in diverse cultural contexts.

Dr. Esther Leerkes: is interested in racial-ethnic variation in parent’s beliefs about emotions, emotion socialization practices and the origins of these beliefs and behaviors.  She is also exploring the possibility that associations between emotion socialization practices and child outcomes vary by race.  She is currently collecting this data from Black and White mothers of preschool and kindergarten age children and will soon collect similar data from mothers of infants to address these issues.

Dr. Heather Helms’ research examines marital quality for new parents of Mexican origin. More specifically, the focus of this research is on how new parents’ relational resources moderate the link between sociocultural stressors and marital well-being during the early years of parenthood. An underlying premise of this project is that differences in spouses’ experiences and perceptions create “his” and “her” sociocultural contexts that are linked to husbands’ and wives’ marital well-being in different ways. For more detail, see Heather’s Projects page.