to the resilience, well-being, school readiness, and healthy development of children, more effort needs to be devoted to clarifying the structures, processes, and relationships involved in these interactions in order to inform the next generation of programs and policies to support America’s children and families.
Theme 6: Strategies to combine disciplinary approaches and diverse methods in the field of family research studies involve a sustained commitment to collaboration and rigorous training efforts, as well as institutional and funding support.
Multimethod, transdisciplinary training approaches require sustained and intensive learning in small team contexts. The exemplary multimethod studies presented at the workshop typically involved collaboration among junior and senior scientists in family research. In addition, joint research activities occurred across periods of multiple years, in the service of explicit, problem-oriented research goals. Cowritten grant proposals and journal articles similarly required long-term collaborations among scientists from multiple perspectives. Training programs in multimethod approaches, collaborative team-building research, and careful consultation with review boards and other oversight bodies are important building blocks in strengthening the foundation for future studies.
Theme 7: Recent advances in visual and digital technologies provide new opportunities to advance the use of observational studies in studying family processes and relationships in their natural settings.
These newer technologies, combined with traditional quantitative and qualitative studies and research on fundamental biological and behavioral processes, can contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics associated with family influences and family environments.
The rapidly changing demographics of American families are currently accompanied by an explosion of new methods, technologies, and understandings in the science of family research. This science is on the brink of a new integration in which the next generation of scientists will combine epistemological and methodological approaches with unprecedented flexibility. The potential for the ability of science to illuminate basic developmental processes in families, as well as productive directions for programs, practice, and policy, is vast. Institutional mechanisms to support this science will need to adapt to the rapid pace of change in the field.