College of Education and Human Development

Family Social Science

Susan Walker

Pronouns: she, her, hers


PDF icon Curriculum Vitae

PDF icon Advising Statement


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


Areas of Interest

Technology in family life/tech integration in non-formal teaching and adult learning
Parenting education and the preparation of parenting and family educators
Social context influences on parent learning
Family engagement in education

I am not accepting new advisees for fall 2022.

Research & Discovery

The primary focus of my research is on social context influences on parenting, that include the communities and networks that parents belong to, relational structures and climates in educational programs they may participate in, and wider public policies that affect family life. In the last 15 years, my research focuses on technology's role in parents' lives, particularly as it influences parent learnng and development. The Parenting 2.0 research project (w/ Jodi Dworkin) collected and analyzed baseline data on parents’ use of technology. That research both informs  my work in the professional development of parenting educators and in the design of effective parenting education programs, described below, and is featured in FSOS 3105, Families and Technology, a course I designed for undergraduate learners. 

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 design technology as a hybrid for face to face interactions The platform designed is informed by my re-conceptualizations of parent learning that build on existing theoretical frameworks. Expanded use by school districts throughout 2020 and COVID-19 allows us to explore parentopia as a central platform for online delivery of ECFE. 

With a Grand Challenges team of researchers at the University of Minnesota in 2016-2019, in partnership with the People's Center in Minneapolis, we explored 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 in the preparation of parenting education professionals promotes my focus on the technology needs of these educators. 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. Recent analysis within a national sample of family educators reveals differences that suggest adaptation challenges during COVID-19. In support of parenting and early professionals during COVID-19, I started a virtual Community of Practice for weekly engagement. PERFECT* Connections enables professionals in Minnesota and elsewhere to meet, be inspired and gain support for their practice. 

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 Sciences (inclusive of parenting and family education) sees the need for a collaborative approach to research, educational practice, and professional development. 

Recent News

"Preparing a digital future for families: highlights of a United Nations background report," DigiGen

"What can companies do to help working parents balance home and work life?" WalletHub

"FSOS professor to address three international conferences," CEHD News Blog

Walker to address UN Panel

Walker receives CEHD Jumpstart Grant for Research

Walker shares engagement research at international conference

Walker discusses technology and young children on Mom Enough program

How to be the best parent to your student on Minnesota Public Radio

Children and online privacy issues on MPR

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.

Teaching & Learning

  • FSOS 3105 Families and Technology (active/course designer) 

        Previously taught: 

  • FSOS 4155 Parent-Child Relations
  • FSOS 5937 Parent-Child Interactions
  • FSOS 5946 Assessment and Evaluation in Parent Education

Honors & Awards

  • 2017 Outstanding Article in Education, Family and Consumer Science Research Journal, American Association of Family and Consumer Science
  • 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

International Collaborations: 

  • 2012-2017 Guest Professor, University of Iceland, School of Education
  • 2020-current Consultant, United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. planned keynote for the International Day of the Family: Families and Digital Well-being: Parenting Education
  • 2021 Panelist, International Foundation on Family Development 
  • 2021 (planned) Keynote Speaker, ICT and the Family, 6th CIFA Regional Symposium (Consortium of Institutes on Family in the Asian Region)
  • 2021 (planned) Panelist, Family-responsive policies in the Digital Era, ProjektPL, Warsaw, Poland

National Association Affiliations: 

  • National Council on Family Relations (former Chair, Families and Technology Focus Group; former Chair, Education & Enrichment section)
  • American Education Research Association (former Secretary/Treasurer Technology as an Agent for Change in Teaching and Learning)
  • International Society for Learning Sciences
  • International Society for Technology in Education 

Select Publications and Presentations

See CV for complete list


  1. Walker, S. (in preparation). Families Use of Technology and Impacts on Work-Family Balance and Parenting Education. Background paper prepared for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Inclusive Social Development, United Nations, New York.

  2. Walker, S., Lee, S.K., and Hong, S* (in press). Workplace Predictors of Parent and Family Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes. Family Relations.

  3. Walker, S. (April, 2020). Parent Learning as Community of Practice and the Potential of an Online Platform. In Progress in EducationVolume 62. Hauppauge, NY: Nova. 

  4. Walker, S., Cheng, C., Rattenni, A., Reynolds, C; Lapham, S. (2019). Parent and educator perspectives on the benefits of an online space to promote offline program collaborative learning. In Proceedings of the 13th Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference (CSCL2019), Lyon, France. 17-21 June 20019; pp. 392-399.

  5. Walker, S. (2019). “It Depends:” Technology Use by Parent and Family Educators in the United States. Educational Sciences. 9 (4). 293. Special Issue: The future of Parent and Family Education.

  6. Thorarsin Ingudottir, H., Walker, S. and Cline, H. (2018). Enhancing intercultural awareness in parent education students through collaborative graduate learning between Iceland and the United States. In S. Lefever and H. Ragnarsdottir (Eds). Icelandic Studies on Diversity in Education. pp. 156-179.

  7. Walker, S. (2018), ‘I think it's kind of made everybody a little closer:’ A Virtual Platform Extending Parent Learning as Community of Practice. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2018, Volume 3. London, UK: International Society of the Learning Sciences. pp. 1589-1590.

  8. Walker, S. (December, 2017). Film review: Captain Fantastic: Road trip to Redemption. Journal of Family Theory and Review. DOI: 10.1111/jftr.12231

  9. Walker, S. and Hong, S (2017). Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 45 (4), 377–393

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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. 

  13. Dworkin, J., Walker, S, Rudi, J. and Doty, J. (2015). Parents’ use of new media for communication: A consideration of demographic differencesIn Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media, Carol Breuss, Ed. New York, NY: Peter Lang, pp. 408-425.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Walker, S. (2012). Parent education in the United States In Policy Report On Parent Education, Korean Child Care and Education Institute, Seoul, S. Korea. 

  17. 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. 

  18. Walker, S., Cline, H. and Cooke, B. (2010). Innovation with Integrity: Preparing Parent Educators Online. Michigan Family Review. 14(1). Available at


  1. Walker, S. (2021, February 10). Work and Family Balance in the digital age. Presentation for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Recording archived on Facebook Live

  2. Walker, S. (2020, August-September). From crisis to sustained quality: integrating technology in parent and early education. Professional development workshop and conversation on equity, curriculum and relationship building for the Minnesota Family and Early Education Association (MNAFEE). Virtual presentation to 125 participants. 

  3. Walker, S. and Reynolds, C* (2020) Perspectives on Technology Use by Education Professionals in School District Dual-Focus Early Childhood, Parent Education Program. Roundtable paper session at AERA, San Francisco, CA. April 17-21.

  4. Gulamhussein, Q*., Susman-Stillman, A., Zhou, X., Addo, A., Ahmed, F., Flynn, P., Gunnar, M., Lee, R. M., Okoro, O., Olson, D., Osman, M., Riggs, S., Sojourner, A., & Walker, S. (2020). Mobile health parenting intervention in Somali refugee families.Biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Rhodes, Greece.

  5. Walker, S. and Cheng, C.* (2020) A Father First: Men’s Engagement in a School District Early Childhood Family Education Program. Paper session at AERA, San Francisco, CA, April 17-21.

  6. Walker, S. and Brown, R. L. (2020). Critical Thinking on Technology Use: Higher Education Course Design to Promote Personal, Professional and Societal Change. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd’20), Valencia, Spain (presented virtually, June 5).

  7. Otremba. E., Walker, S., Jara Pacheo, T., Moeller, M. and Morain, B. (2020). “Uncertain by hopeful.” Early Childhood Family Educators’ Perspectives on COVID-19 Virtual Instruction. UROP Poster presented at the UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunity conference, Summer, 2020.

  8. Walker, S., Rattenni, A*., and Hong, S*. (2019). Stakeholder Perspectives on Implementing Learning Technology in an Early Childhood Parenting Education Program. National Council on Family Relations, Fort Worth, TX. November 19, 2019.

  9. Walker, S. (2018, November). Invited workshop. Technology integration in family education to support resilience and promote prevention. Minnesota Council on Family Relations.

  10. Walker, S. (2018). Offline to online: Impact of an internet platform for parent-professional engagement. European Early Childhood Research Association, Budapest, Hungary, August 30, 2018.

  11. Walker, S. (2018). The evolution of trust. Opening presentation given at the European Early Childhood Research Association conference, Budapest, Hungary, August 31. Online at

  12. 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. 

  13. 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. 

  14. Cline, H. and Walker, S. Exploring Reflective Supervision in Parenting Educator Professional Development. (2016). Zero to Three National Training Institute, New Orleans, LA.

  15. Walker, S., Thorarsin Ingudottir, 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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. 

  18. 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.

  19. 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. 

  20. Walker, S. (2015, January 9). Reaching parents through online technology. University of Wisconsin-Extension.

  21. Walker, S. (2013, November). How does the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program address the academic achievement gap? CEHD Saturday scholars, November 3.