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Program Goals: What HDFS Students Will Learn

As an HDFS student you will learn about concepts and research that will help you understand human development across the life span. You will learn how people and families develop--biologically, psychologically, and socially. You will study individuals and families in your own and other cultures, and learn how the family, the workplace, schools, the community, and the larger culture affect and are affected by the individual. Along with a solid background on the development of individuals and families, you will study problems such as child, spouse and elder abuse, substance use, and divorce. You will learn skills for helping individuals, families, or groups through prevention programs and other intervention techniques. In addition to examining specific problems, you will learn how human service agencies and professionals deal with these problems. You will study moral, ethical, and legal issues you will face as professionals and learn to evaluate alternative approaches to promoting optimal development. Also, you are encouraged to develop the leadership and managerial skills necessary for success in administration and evaluation of human service programs.

Learning objectives

On completion of the undergraduate degree in Human Development & Family Studies, students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of individual and family development across the life span in diverse contexts and changing environments
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate and apply research and theory to practice and policy.
  • Analyze processes, policies, and contextual factors that affect the delivery of human services to individuals and families.
  • Demonstrate professional, ethical, and culturally sensitive standards of conduct.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and competence in helping, leadership, and administrative skills for human services.


The Department of Human Development & Family Studies conducts annual assessments of our courses, teaching and internship program.

  • Learning in courses: In addition to evaluations of each instructor’s performance in every course, we track the performance of our students on tests and assignments across multiple instructors and semesters in our core required courses. For example, in our introductory course on Interventions (311), 92% of students successfully completed a written assignment in which they used concepts from prevention science to describe an intervention program.
  • Supervisor surveys: More than 90% of HDFS majors complete a 600-hour (full-time) internship, most often in their final semester. To gain an outside perspective on our students’ preparation for professional roles, we survey our students’ internship supervisors. In a recent supervisor survey focused on professional and ethical standards, 94-98% of supervisors rated our students positively (4 or 5 on a 5-point scale) on (a) ability to act in an ethically informed manner, (b) cultural sensitivity and (c) professional standards.
  • Senior exit surveys: Each year we survey graduating seniors at the end of their last semester. In a recent survey, 90% of seniors reported that their education in HDFS prepared them “well” or “very well” to work in a human services field; 92% reported that their HDFS education helped them understand policies relevant to human services; and 98% reported that their HDFS education helped them understand how individual and family differences affect the delivery of human services. In another senior exit survey, 97% of seniors reported they were well or very well prepared to work with children, youth, adults, and families in a professional and ethical way.