Human Development and Family Studies News

Dr. Lori Skibbe has been awarded a Special Education Research Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).  Funding for the project will total approximately $1.6 million over the course of four years.

Dr. Skibbe's team will develop a computerized adaptive test of phonological awareness called the Inventory of Phonological Awareness using Alternative Responses (IPAAR).  Phonological awareness, the explicit awareness of and ability to manipulate the sound structure of language, is a key predictor of later literacy development. Currently there are no standardized, validated tools of phonological awareness suited to meet the needs of children with disabilities that limit their speech production, despite the citical nature of this early literacy skill.  This project will address this gap by developing the IPAAR to assess levels of phonological awareness for a wide range of children with and without disabilities.

The development and evaluation of the IPAAR will occur over the course of three phases and will be administered to approximately 300 children in preschool or early elementary school with speech production difficultites.

Congratulations, Dr. Skibbe!

Erica Rouleau (Doctoral Student) and Dr. Andrea WIttenborn were awarded the "Cutting Edge Research" distinction from over a hundred abstracts accepted for the 2015 Annual American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Conference. Their work on predictors of development and the course of the therapeutic alliance will be presented in Austin, Texas. Congratulations, Erica and Dr. Wittenborn!

The Child Development Laboratories, in conjunction with Central Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (CMAEYC) and Lansing Community College, hosted the Coming Together for Children conference on February 14th.  Over 400 participants were in attendence.  Laurie Linscott (Director of the CDL), Julie Brower (Assistant Director), and Jen Davis (Head Teacher) sit on the conference planning committee.  The year, nine current and former Child Development majrs served as moderators at the conference.  Head Teachers share their expertises through conference presentations.

To view the presentations, you can go to the CDL site,

Faculty and students in the HDFS Department and the Psychology School of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago, Chile particpiated in a two-week cultural exchange. Dr. Claire Vallotton of HDFS and Dr. Chamarrita Farkas of Pontificia Universidad hosted the exchange as a means of building upon their collaborative work and offering junior scholars the opportunity to work with data from a longitudinal cross-cultural project: The Cross-Cultural Expression of Emotion (CCEE) Study.

The idea for the cultural exchange came from the joint research between Vallotton and Farkas, who have collaborated on research since 2010. The cultural exchange served as an event where the research teams could meet, integreate and generate greater collaboration. During different seminars, each country presented their research and future collaboration was planned to generate joint publications.

Additionally, Drs. Claire Vallotton and Lori Skibbe, along with Director of the Child Development Lab, Lori Linscott, were invited to Turkey to share their research and work. They presented at Gelishm University in Istanbul, Eskisehir Osmangazi University in Eskisehir, and Gazi University in Ankara. Dr. Vallotton presented on the relationship of literacy achievement and self-regulation, and Laurie Linscott presented on the use of the Child Development Laboratories as a model for teacher training.

HDFS faculty member Dr. Holly Brophy-Herb will lead a multidiciplinary effort to tackle childhood obesity, one of the nation's biggest health concerns, families with preschoolers.  The five-year project will be run through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative which was authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill signed by President Obama.  It is anticipated that funding funding towards to project will total $4.7 million over the course of five years.

In addition to Brophy-Herb, the project team includes Mildred Horodynski (MSU College of Nursing), Jean Kerver (MSU Department of Epidemiology), Dawn Contreras (MSU Extension), Julie Lumeng (University of Michigan), Niko Kaciroti (University of Michigan), and the Jackson Community Action Agency Head Start.  The study will specifically look at healthy family mealtimes among low-income families.