Updates on NCFR’s Educational Offerings

Jennifer Crosswhite, Ph.D., CFLE, Director of Research and Policy Education
/ CLFE Network, Spring 2022

I wear several hats as the director of research and policy education, and in that role, I collaborate with many amazing members in the creation and implementation of educational offerings. Dawn Cassidy, NCFR’s director of Family Life Education has also been busy expanding virtual educational opportunities for Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs) and other family practitioners, including the second annual virtual summit on June 24 (see page 5). We have so many great new and returning education programs this year that I wanted to highlight them in this column.

2022 Conference Local Programing  

Now that we are headed back to an in-person conference, a Saturday local program is again being planned to build connections between local practitioners and researchers. Our first local initiative program was in 2019 under conference program chair Katia Paz Goldfarb, Ph.D. The idea of this program is to leave a positive impact in the conference host city, hear more from local practitioners to help inform research, and build connections between researchers and practitioners to enhance both research and practice. This program was set aside during the COVID pandemic, and we are excited to have it return in 2022.

Debra Berke, Ph.D., 2022 NCFR Conference Chair, determined the focus this year will be on youth and families; building connections between professionals who work directly with youth and their families, and researchers who study the same group. Working with a local arrangements committee to identify local agencies, we will invite 3-4 practitioners from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro to present during a special session at the 2022 NCFR Annual Conference on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Minneapolis. The goals of the program continue as was originally designed in 2019: Leave a positive impact on our host city by making connections between practitioners and researchers that will flourish into collaborative relationships. We hope to learn from them more about their work to improve research that will in turn enhance programming.

We will extend an invitation to other local practitioners to join us for the Saturday event. The event will start with a meet-and-greet between practitioners and researchers whose area of expertise is youth and families. Participants will attend that day’s plenary session with Derek Peterson who will discuss his work on creating strong supports for youth. After which, participants will attend the special session presented by the 3-4 invited local practitioners. After a 30-minute break, Derek Peterson will also lead a four-hour workshop on Saturday afternoon on creating a web of support for children and youth to increase their success in life. All in attendance are welcome to participate in any of these Saturday events.   

Webinars, Theory Thursdays, and More

NCFR online educational programming is growing! We now offer more than 100 webinars available on demand, and we are continually adding more online live events each year.

Webinars: Our webinar program began in 2013 with Dawn Cassidy offering a few webinars. Over the years, the webinar program has expanded—we now have a webinar coordinator and an education coordinator to run the program. We can now offer at least 18 webinars annually. Most of the 100+ on-demand webinars are free to members and CFLE, including all webinars that are a year past their live debut. Webinar topics include research methods and statistics, skills development for Family Life Educators and other practitioners, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have also seen an increase in the webinars being purchased for use in the classroom (ncfr.org/form/classroom-use-request). I encourage you to examine our webinar programs—perhaps some will be a great classroom resource for you!

A new webinar series of note is the Quantitative Methods Webinar Series (ncfr.org/quantitative-methods). Traditionally, courses that teach statistics cover multiple methods at a fast pace. These classes may or may not be held within a Family Science program potentially reducing the understanding of the concepts being taught for Family Scientists. Additional obstacles could be faced such as learning methods in multiple statistical programs that an individual may no longer have access to, or a delay in using the method in one’s own research project, reducing the recollection of concepts learned.

This multi-year research webinar series—organized by Isaac Washburn, Ph.D., at Oklahoma State University—is focused on teaching and applying quantitative methods regardless of one’s level of expertise. Foundational topics were covered first (i.e., probability, t-tests, odds ratio, and ANOVA), followed by advanced topics such as Survival Analysis and the four-part series on regressions (ncfr.org/ quantitative-methods). Materials and directions are included that allow one to practice the method in various statistical programs (e.g., STATA, MPlus, SPSS) both during and after the webinar. Stay tuned as more quantitative webinars will be released through 2023.

Theory Thursdays. One silver lining of the COVID pandemic is that society, NCFR members, and NCFR staff learned we could do more virtually. One outcome of this revelation is the conception of Theory Thursdays hosted by NCFR members involved in the Theory Construction and Research Methodology (TCRM) workshop. Two highly involved members, Kari Adamsons, Ph.D., and Daniel Puhlman, Ph.D., host the free interactive conversations that focus on a specific theoretical model during each conversation and explore innovative uses of the theory in research and scholarship. To date, a large number of attendees have discussed symbolic interactionism, family systems theory, critical race theory, and Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystemic Theory. Recordings (ncfr.org/tcrm/theory-thursdays) are available for these past conversations. I encourage you to listen and participate in future conversations.

CFLE Conversations was launched in 2021 as a new benefit for CFLEs (Certified Family Life Educator). The one-hour online networking sessions provide an opportunity for CFLEs who work in specific areas to connect with each other. Each session—facilitated by an active CFLE—discuss challenges and successes and share ideas, tips, and advice with each other. These events are free to all current CFLEs. Please see ncfr.org/cfle-conversations to learn about future CFLE conversations.

Family Life Education Summit

The Family Life Education Summit (https://www.ncfr.org/fle-2022) is a virtual event that began in 2021. The summit provides an opportunity for both experienced and new family practitioners to come together to share information and insights into this important practice. Read Dawn Cassidy’s article on the success of the first summit to learn more (ncfr.org/directions-fall-2021). The CFLE Advisory Board played a significant role in planning and implementing the summit. Cassidy wrote further about the 2021 event in an update about the second CFLE summit being organized for June 25, 2022 (ncfr.org/directions-spring-2022). The second summit is yet to occur at the time of this writing, but I am quite positive we will hear about the huge success the 2022 summit was in the future.

The pandemic as been interesting, to say the least, but NCFR members and staff found a way to enhance virtual opportunities for you, the NCFR members. I hope that you are finding value in these continued and new educational offers. NCFR staff are always considering new educational opportunities and would love to hear your ideas. Feel free to email me, Jennifer Crosswhite at [email protected], with any educational ideas. You, the members, make this organization great! Thank you for all your leadership and ideas.