Human Development


Human Development promotes collaboration among diverse disciplines and supports research regarding populations with and without disabilities from conception through the final stages of life. The research includes the study of individual and developmental differences in human behavior and cognition. Research goals include basic and applied studies. Examples of current and potential research include descriptions of typical and atypical behavioral and cognitive processes, evaluating treatment outcomes of experimental interventions at various age levels, and functional assessments of independence and behavior-motor skills of individuals at various age levels.


Examples of major trends and opportunities in extramural funding

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP); National Alliance for Autism Research (NARR); Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Institute of Child Heath and Human Development, National Institute for Literacy, Missouri Department of Higher Education (MODESE), National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and Community Foundation of the Ozarks.


Examples of areas of knowledge you anticipate will experience the most dramatic growth

NIH is currently emphasizing research in infant categorization, particularly as related to language development, and encouraging proposals in this area. The Missouri Preschool Project for at risk children and Early Childhood education research initiatives address these and other needs. Neurologically-based disorders, including a range of pervasive developmental disabilities, have experienced a significant increase in prevalence with a subsequent emphasis on research that explores developmental changes in these populations over time.

Unique Resources:

Examples of unique existing resources as well as current needs in Missouri, the Ozarks, and/or Springfield regarding economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being, and/or social prosperity

Existing Resources:

Numerous resources exist to support research on human development; representative examples follow. Missouri State faculty have a record of research in the area of family studies, gender issues, literacy, and the aging. Nationally recognized programs in Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility are unique to Missouri and Kansas, and support multidisciplinary clinical research goals. Missouri State serves as a field site, or sends students to related field sites, that support faculty research including the Adaptive Physical Educational lab, Learning Diagnostic Clinic, Speech and Audiology Clinics, Child Development Lab, Biomechanics Laboratory, Exercise Science Laboratory, Perceptual Motor Development Laboratory, Physical Therapy Clinic, and the Infant Perception Learning Lab, and various community based settings. Additionally, Greenwood Laboratory School (Grades K-12) offers unique opportunities for longitudinal research studies with children due to a high retention rate, and the commitment of faculty, students, and families to research. Faculty research across disciplines including Communication, Counseling, and multiple others, focuses on issues of aging and gender as well as family communication systems across developmental stages.

New Resources:

Missouri State faculty from multiple disciplines including Counseling, English, Communication, Social Work, Nursing, Religious Studies, Gerontology, Physician Assistant, Physical Education, Recreation and others have developed a collaborative structure to examine methods for strengthening research outcomes in women's studies including acquiring funding and infrastructure supports for collaborative research. Community safety initiatives within the local Early Childhood Resource Center (WIC, PAT, Medical and Behavioral Healthcare) provide a site that supports applied child development research. The proposed Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders is unique to the state and with the regional DESE certification option for Severely Developmentally Delayed, will support clinical research goals regarding development in these populations across disciplines.


Examples of new collaborations in research and/or learning as well as linkages to the University's existing and emerging research strengths

The following represent examples of collaborative research in the area of research on human development. The Early Learning Opportunities Act (2004, HHS) has 14 community partners and supports early literacy, families, and childcare providers. Missouri State has a strong record of productivity in infant perceptual categorization, as well as research regarding language development. The current initiatives at NIH offer a special opportunity to combine these lines of research.


Examples of building on existing strengths

There are numerous strengths within the University specific to research on human development; examples follow. Early Childhood faculty have received a DESE award that supports research for at risk children. Missouri State has the potential to address research questions specific to cognitive, social, communication, motor, and exercise physiology with populations from conception through the final stages of life.

Mission Fit:

Examples of compatibility with the University's statewide mission in public affairs

The social validity of collaborative research goals in research on human development is aligned to the University's mission. Research on human development responds to societal needs in that the related goals address issues specific to an increasing prevalence in aging populations, individuals with disabilities, and those who are at risk for learning and emotional problems. Multidisciplinary research on human development efforts can promote scientific progress and, as a result, accelerate the transition of basic research findings to the practical application for individuals and families who are in need of assistance.

Education Fit:

Examples of contributions to superior undergraduate, graduate, and professional education

Field experiences associated with HHS Early Childhood Federal grants support professional development as well as student/faculty research goals in family, literacy, child development, and disability studies, and gerontology contribute to program outcomes that support multiple undergraduate and graduate emphasis areas. The Doctorate of Audiology is Missouri State's first independent doctoral degree. The Audiology program, along with graduate programs across campus, encourages and supports developmental research conducted by graduate students..


Established clinics/labs generate limited revenues with services for clients and populations that also support developmental research goals. Review of clinical services, faculty, existing centers, and facilities is needed to enhance collaborative and individual research agendas across disciplines. Faculty within disciplines associated with research on human development have a strong record of extramural funding with research agendas that support continued acquisition. However, careful consideration must be given to ensure that faculty with similar research agendas are supported in both collaborative and individual endeavors beyond traditional departmental and program barriers. Currently, there appears to be inconsistencies in the availability of clinical and laboratory space and disparities in regard to the level of infrastructure support among disciplines that emphasize research on human development. Recommendations stated in the Research Task Force Statement for the New Five-Year Plan (March 2005) should be operationalized in order to sustain and expand research efforts including public awareness initiatives to support faculty recruitment, incentives and rewards for faculty in line with record of productivity, recognition and support for faculty supervision of student research, teaching loads commensurate with research outcomes, and other related supports.