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Capstone Experience: Mentored Research Requirements

The mentored research experience for students completing the Developmental and Family Science major consists of 6 credits of mentored research with an HDFS faculty member, completed over the final two semesters prior to graduation. During this experience, the student will complete a research project in an area of mutual interest to the student and faculty member, often working as part of the professor’s research team. Students must identify a faculty member willing to mentor their research project in the semester before beginning the experience. The student will need to have the faculty mentor sign a Form 23, and the student must bring that form to his/her academic advisor in order to register for the research credits (CDFS 49000).

To begin the process, students are expected to review the Mentored Research: Faculty Areas of Interest list and contact faculty members with whom they would be interested in working.


  1. Synthesize knowledge and skills gained as a DVFS major, using them in a research project of the student’s interest.
  2. Explore an interest in the HDFS field in depth.
  3. Get exposure to how research is done in HDFS.
  4. Gain experience working collaboratively with a research mentor and/or research team.
  5. Make decisions using the logic of the scientific method.

Basic Elements of the Mentored Research Experience:

  1. 6 credits of HDFS 490 or 497, over 2 semesters (usually during the senior year)
  2. Engage in a research process including:
    1. Develop a research project plan with clear objectives.
    2. Relate the objectives of the project to the child and family research literature.
    3. Execute the project plan.
    4. Communicate the results of the project clearly.
  3. To be clear, the research plan does not necessarily have to involve empirical hypothesis testing. If the student is participating in research at an earlier stage, the student’s research might investigate topics such as participant recruitment or attrition; measure selection, reliability, or validity; or other topics essential to HDFS research.

The student is required to do the following:

  1. Select a faculty mentor who agrees to support the project. Any HDFS faculty member (tenured/tenure track faculty, clinical faculty, or research faculty) could serve as a mentor. Information on faculty expertise, current projects, etc., will be made available to students via the department’s webpage. (Mentored Research: Faculty Areas of Interest) Mentored research projects may fit into one or more of the following categories:
    1. ongoing research project within the faculty mentor’s lab/team
    2. new research project initiated based on student’s interest
    3. program evaluation
    4. honors thesis
  2. Submit a 500 word abstract describing the project to the Undergrad Committee. This must be submitted during the first semester of research in order to earn credit for the first semester of work. If the student is doing an honors thesis, the honors thesis proposal could be submitted instead.
  3. During the second semester of research, complete a 10-15 page paper on the project in APA style, graded by the faculty mentor.
  4. Give a poster or oral presentation at the conclusion of the project. This is meant to develop the student’s skills at communicating research to a new audience (i.e., not solely the research team with whom the student has been working). Appropriate venues for this presentation could include HDFS 316 or 346 (research methods classes), the departmental research seminar, the college honors poster exhibition, etc.

Faculty Mentor Guidelines:

  1. Guide/support the student in developing an appropriate research project.
  2. Meet with the student (individually or as part of a team) a minimum of twice per month.
  3. Approve the research abstract before submission to the undergraduate committee.
  4. Provide feedback as the student writes his/her research paper and grade the final report.
  5. Set up an appropriate venue in which the student can present his/her paper or oral presentation.