Published on April 23, 2013 by Dr. Kristie Chandler  

Earlier this semester, several faculty and students from Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies presented at the Southeast Council on Family Relations (SECFR) regional conference in Birmingham, Ala. One presentation was considered especially unique as the project incorporated collaboration between professors and students from the family studies and teacher education departments.

The idea for the project originated as students in a teacher education course realized they were not completely comfortable working with parents of children in their classes. A partnership with a family life education course was formed in order to gain mutual understanding. The collaboration benefited students in both classes as it increased the confidence level of teacher education candidates regarding family engagement, while also providing a relevant family life education opportunity for those in the family studies course.

Over the course of the semester, the family studies students conducted a needs assessment, researched areas to address those needs, developed curriculum and conducted five family life education small group sessions for the teacher education students. To measure the effectiveness of the family life education sessions, the family studies students, using a pre-test/post-test analysis,measured the confidence level before and after the educational sessions. Survey results indicated a significant increase in confidence level working with under- and over-involved parents, parents of disabled children, sending updates and reports to parents, facilitating parent-teacher conference and hosting an open house.

Several students from both courses presented their research and shared about their experiences at the SECFR conference alongside teacher education professors,Mrs. Karen Birkenfeld and Dr. Amy Hoaglund, and family studies professors, Dr.Kristie Chandler and Dr. Jonathan Davis.

“This collaboration was a great example of how departments can work together to provide a more well-rounded education for all students,” said Dr. Kristie Chandler, chair of the family studies department.

Many other presentations were made at the conference by the family studies department involving several students and Chandler, Davis, Dr. Clara Gerhardt and Dr. Celeste Hill.