Associate Professor Director, Parent and Family Education Program
Room 286 McNH
1985 Buford Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Areas of Interest
Social context influences on parent learning
Technology integration in non-formal teaching and adult learning
Parenting education and the preparation of parenting and family educators
Family engagement in education
Ph.D., Child and Family Studies - University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.S., Nutrition - Pennsylvania State University, University Park
B.S., Foods and Nutrition - Drexel University, Philadelphia
Honors & Awards
2015 OUtstanding Paper, Family and Consumer Science Rsearch Journal, American Association of Family and Consumer Science
2015 Outstanding Article in Education, Family and Consumer Science Research Journal, American Association of Family and Consumer Science
2012 Faculty Adviser of the Year (Graduate and Professional Student Association), University of Minnesota
2012-2016 Guest Professor, University of Iceland, School of Education
2005 Paul M. Poffenberger Teaching, Advising and Mentoring Award, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, College Park
2004 George F. Kramer Practitioner of the Year Award, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Maryland, College Park
2001 Muriel Sloan Communitarian Award, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Maryland, College Park
2000 State Specialist of the Year Award (Service Less than seven years), Maryland Extension Specialists Association
Teaching & Learning
FSoS 4155: Parent-Child Relationships
FSoS 5932: Intro to Parent Education
FSoS 5937: Parent-Child Interaction
FSoS 5943: Parent Development and Adult Learning
FSoS 5944: Curriculum Development in Parent Education
FSoS 5946: Assessment and Evaluation in Parent Education
Research & Discovery
The primary focus of my research is on social context influences on parenting, specifically on processes and structures that promote parent learning and parent well-being (the parent learning ecology). These social context influences include the communities and networks that parents belong to, the more formal structures in educational programs they may participate in, and wider public policies that affect family life. In the last 10 years, my research has focused on technology as integrated in parents’ lives, and as tools and the Internet as an environment for parent learning and social interaction. The Parenting 2.0 research project collected and analyzed baseline data on parents’ use of technology. This work integrates and informs my work in the professional development of parenting educators and in the design of effective parenting education programs, described below.
The Parentopia project involves the design of a web-based application that complements parent learning and engagement through Minnesota’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program. With co-PI Loren Terveen in Computer Sciences, a 3 year NSF grant enabled research with parents and staff in the St Paul Public Schools to identify technology as a hybrid for face to face interactions to facilitate parents’ social learning interactions within their classes, with their personal networks and across the ECFE program. The platform designed is informed by my re-conceptualizations of parent learning that build on existing theoretical frameworks. The Parentopia platform is now being implemented as a new mobile-friendly platform is being designed during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Parenting and family educators’ integration of technology in practice is related area of research. My years of instruction and directing online degree programs reinforces the fact that, as it is essential that all education professionals are comfortable and supported in selecting new media to enhance learning, educators who work in community-based settings with parents require particular attention. My research has identified the technology acceptance attitudes and more novel use of technologies to be influenced by personal and workplace conditions, including the quality of training and technical assistance. In the fall of 2016 collaboration with the National Council on Family Relations will conduct a national survey of family life educators’ technology use.
My vision for technology integration in Family and Consumer Sciences (inclusive of parenting and family education) as a collaborative research, educational practice, and professional development activity was recently published.
Outreach & Engagement
University of Minnesota- University of Iceland Collaborative Online Instruction for Family Educator Preparation (2015-current)
Collaborative Research on Reflective Supervision in Parent Education, Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota
UMN - ECFE Program Evaluation Collaboration Click to view PDF of research poster: Walker, S. (April, 2014). Never doubt the power: Stakeholder impacts from a collaborative evaluation of a primary prevention community-based early childhood and parenting program. Society for Research in Child Development conference. Alexandria, VA.
Walker, S. (2016). Creating The Future We Want: A Framework for Integrated Engagement in Technology Use in Family and Consumer Sciences. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Walker, S. and Kim, H. (2015). Family Educators Use of Technology and Influences on Technology Acceptance Attitudes. Family and Consumer Science Research Journal. 43(4), 328-342.
Walker, S. (2015) Social dynamics of media use on parenting: A conceptual framework. In Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media, Carol Breuss, Ed. New York: Peter Lang.
Walker, S. (December 2015) Family Life and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT): Implications for Family Life Education. In Walcheski, M. and Reinke, J. (Eds). Handbook of Family Life Education, 3rd Ed. Minneapolis: National Council on Family Relations, pp. 117-130. Dworkin, J., Walker, S, Rudi, J. and Doty, J. (2015). Parents’ use of new media for communication: A consideration of demographic differences. In Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media, Carol Breuss, Ed. New York, NY: Peter Lang, pp. 408-425.
Walker, S. and Rudi, J. (2014). Parenting across the social ecology facilitated by information and communications technology: Implications for educational design and research. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension. 2, 2, 2-19
Rudi, J., Dworkin, J., Walker, S. K. and Doty, J. L. (2014). Parents' use of information and communications technologies for family communication: differences by age of children. Information, Communication & Society. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2014.934390
Walker, S. (2012). Parent education in the United States In Policy Report On Parent Education, Korean Child Care and Education Institute, Seoul, S. Korea.
Walker, S. and Manoogian, M. (December 2011). Child care. In Rural families and work: Contexts, problems, and solutions. J. Bauer and E. Dolan, Eds. New York: Springer.
Walker, S., Cline, H. and Cooke, B. (2010). Innovation with Integrity: Preparing Parent Educators Online. Michigan Family Review. 14(1). Available at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mfr/
Walker, S. (2016). Design-based Research for Technology Enhanced Parent Education: Integrating Non-formal Education and Personal Learning Communities, American Education Research Association, Washington, DC.
Walker, S. (2015). The Internet’s role as an interface for parents’ personal communities and networks of learning. Paper presented at the Theory Construction Research Methodology preconference, National Council on Family Relations annual meeting. November 9. Vancouver, BC.
Hernandez, M and Walker, S. (panel co-chairs). Technology in Family Engagement in Early childhood settings. Symposium. Society of Research on Child Development, Philadelphia, PA, March, 2015.
Walker, S. (2015, March 13). New Ways to Reach Parents: Integrating technology in nonformal education. Presentation to the College of Education, University of Iceland, Reykjavik.
Walker, S. (2015, January 9). Reaching parents through online technology. University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Walker, S. (2013, November). How does the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program address the academic achievement gap? CEHD Saturday scholars, November 3.