student with children in developmental lab

Research

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies carries out a wide range of research aimed at improving quality of life for individuals and families across the entire life span. Research is divided into five main themes: culture and diversity, early childhood education and care, health and well-being, interpersonal relations and military families.

Research Areas

Culture and Diversity

Diversity is integral to all societies and groups. Scholars in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies investigate similarities and variations across groups in relation to child development and families. Research topics include parenting practices across cultures, preschoolers’ perceptions and interactions with children with disabilities, pathways to literacy readiness across diverse groups and more.

Faculty

    Early Childhood Education and Care

    Research on early childhood education focuses specifically on understanding the relationship between home and school and the factors that contribute to positive developmental and learning outcomes in children. A primary focus in this research area is the design and evaluation of targeted interventions that support the development of children’s social, cognitive and academic competence.

    Faculty

      Health and Well-Being

      Health concerns are central to family life across the developmental spectrum, from parents of young children who closely monitor their children’s health to adults who become increasingly reliant on family in old age. The biopsychosocial model guides faculty who work in this area as they strive to understand physical health and well-being later in life, family functioning, coping with cancer and more.

      Faculty

        Interpersonal Relations

        Human beings are inherently social creatures. Familial relationships set the foundation and provide context for emotional, social and cognitive achievements. Departmental research considers how parents, siblings, friends, in-laws, stepparents, children and other social partners influence well-being and development.

        Faculty

          Military Families

          Past and present military families have taken on difficult challenges on behalf of our nation. Consequently, these families have much to teach us about strength and vulnerability as well as their policy and programmatic challenges during and following service. Researchers are addressing questions related to family changes during challenging transitions; the development of military-connected children, youth and young adults; the effectiveness of programs serving military families; and ways to address future needs.

          Faculty

            Research Labs/Centers

            The Department of Human Development and Family Studies promotes applied research that goes hand-in-hand with our engagement activities. The department’s research centers focus on solving real-world challenges, including finding quality child care, balancing work and family, improving relationships and aging-related issues.

            Center for Early Learning

            The Center for Early Learning is dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood education and care from birth through third grade. Through generating and disseminating high-quality research; providing professional development opportunities to teachers; and informing local, state and national policy through evaluation work, the center promotes school readiness and healthy development to have a lasting impact on children’s lives.

            Center for Families

            The Center for Families at Purdue University is a collaborative effort that focuses on improving the quality of life for families and strengthening families’ capacity to provide nurturing environments for their members.

            Ben and Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School

            The Department of Human Development and Family Studies operates a preschool program in the Ben and Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School. This program offers child development practica and student-teaching experiences, fulfills a need in the community for high-quality early education and child care and provides a site for child development and early education research. The laboratory school was awarded a level-four rating from Paths to QUALITY, which is the highest indicator of quality.

            Family Impact Institute

            The Family Impact Institute works to shape public policy for families by sharing critical nonpartisan, solution-oriented research with policymakers and professionals.

            Military Family Research Institute

            Research on military families is conducted through the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University to provide insight into the experiences of military members and their families. The institute also designs and implements outreach activities to assist military families in Indiana and beyond and strives to proactively build relationships with partners in both the military and civilian communities.

            Faculty by Research Area

            Culture and Diversity

              Early Childhood Education and Care

                Health and Well-being

                  Interpersonal Relations

                    Military Families