Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State has a long and distinguished record of doctoral training in developmental methods and the analysis of change. Faculty are working on both analytical and design innovations and applications to substantive research questions.
Methods application spans all levels of analysis, from the biological (genetics, physiology) to the social context (schools, families, neighborhoods, and the workplace), as well as across many timescales (cells to society, milliseconds to millennia, cradle to grave). Methods are often applied to understand development in childhood, adulthood and old age; to study individual and interpersonal processes like emotion and learning; and to develop and evaluate prevention and intervention programs.
Methods development research is spear-headed by the Quantitative Developmental Systems Methodology Core (QuantDev), a group of faculty in HDFS with broad expertise in methods for understanding human health and behavior at multiple levels and time-scales. Specific interests include intensive longitudinal data collection methods (e.g. ecological momentary assessments, smartphone sensors, wearable and digital health measures, geospatial data), as well as associated analyses, including structural equation modeling, dynamical systems, Bayesian modeling and estimation, data mining and machine learning approaches, intervention optimization and real-time adaptive intervention, network analysis, and statistical programming.
Students can develop specializations in one or more areas and are strongly encouraged to work with faculty in other areas of HDFS on topics related to individual development, prevention and intervention research, or family systems. Through these collaborations, students gain direct insights into substantive questions that motivate the development of advanced quantitative methods.