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
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 was redesigned into a mobile friendly platform, and research on it's implementation is underway.
In 2016 I joined a 2 year, Grand Challenges team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, Rich Lee and Amy Susman-Stillman, co-PI. In partnership with the People's Center in Minneapolis, we are exploring texting as an intervention on parenting health awareness of Somali mothers of young children.
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. Data analysis on the 2016 national survey of family educators' technology use in partnership with the National Council on Family Relations is underway.
My work on technology integration in education extends broadly to all areas of teacher preparation. During the 2016-2017 academic year, I co-directed the CEHD Technology Integration in Teacher Preparation, collecting baseline data and establishing a vision for developing teachers, faculty and our school partnerships in this area. I am also the Secretary/Treasurer for the Technology as a Catalyst for Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group (SIG) for the American Education Research Association (AREA).
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.
Undergraduate and/or Graduate Course I teach
- FSOS 3105 Families and Technology (new course, fall 2017)
- FSOS 4155 Parent-Child Relations
- FSOS 5937 Parent-Child Interactions
- FSOS 5946 Assessment and Evaluation in Parent Education
Honors & Awards
- 2015 Outstanding Paper, Family and Consumer Science Research 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
- 2012-2017 Guest Professor, University of Iceland, School of Education
National Association affiliations:
- National Council on Family Relations (Chair, Families and Technology Focus Group)
- American Education Research Association (Secretary/Treasurer Technology as an Agent for Change in Teaching and Learning)
Thorarsin Ingudottir, H., Walker, S. and Cline, H. (under review). Enhancing intercultural awareness in parent education students through collaborative graduate online learning between Iceland and the United States. In S. LeFever and H. Ragnarsdottir, Eds. Icelandic Studies on Diversity in Education.
Walker, S. (in press). Captain Fantastic: Roadtrip to Redemption. Journal of Family Theory and Review.
Walker, S. and Hong, S (2017). Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 45 (4), 377–393
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. (2017, June). Creating Parentopia: Design-based Research to Develop an Interface for Parent Learning Communities and Networks. Computer Supported Collaborative Learning bi-annual conference. Philadelphia, PA.
Walker, S. and Hong, S. (2017, May). Workplace and Age Influences on Technology Use and Attitudes by Parenting Educators. American Education Research Association, San Antonio, TX.
Cline, H. and Walker, S. Exploring Reflective Supervision in Parenting Educator Professional Development. (2016). Zero to Three National Training Institute, New Orleans, LA.
Walker, S., Thorarsingudottir, H, Cline, H. and Douville, H. (2016). Building Intercultural Awareness Skills through Collaborative US-Iceland Online Graduate Classes: A Design for Learning, National Council on Family Relations, Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN
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.