Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family StudiesJoined USJ: 2013
A Good Fit
Katharine-Ann Buck, Ph.D., was initially drawn to the University of Saint Joseph for its focus on student-centered learning, commitment to service, and small class sizes. Once she came to campus, she felt especially connected by the shared belief in the HDFS department, that students learn best by incorporating real-world experience into their course work. “It is one thing to teach students something and very different for them to actually put it into practice,” said Buck, noting that the School for Young Children provides students with an invaluable opportunity to directly apply the theories they learn in class to children. Through other coursework, they receive training on conducting an effective interview and learn proven skills for building rapport with people. She believes these hands-on experiences give students a good foundation to start their careers.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom
In the classroom, Buck uses her own experiences working with children and adolescents to “bridge the gap of connecting theory to real-life application.” She uses lectures and discussions to introduce a problem or question that requires her students to think critically about the course material. She wants them to apply analytical skills to assess problems, questions, and controversial ideas so they can come to an unbiased conclusion. She uses this approach hoping that students “will understand and be able to evaluate and apply material rather than simply accept it at face value.”
A New Approach
Buck’s interest in research focuses on development, psychopathology, and adjustment in children and adolescents. There is, however, a twist to the approach she takes in her research — rather than look at factors that may cause problematic behaviors in some children, she looks at the elements that prevent those behaviors in most children. “I believe it is necessary to understand normal development and processes that enable children to integrate positively into social groups and relationships,” said Buck. “Anti-social behavior needs to be studied not simply once it becomes problematic, but why, for most children, it is present but never becomes a significant dysfunction or clinical disorder.” One aspect of Buck’s research focuses on what parenting and psychological processes occur that may promote naturally-occurring declines in antisocial behavior in most children as they get older. What skills do they need to develop normally, and thus integrate into the social world? Buck believes that to achieve an understanding of this process, it is necessary to develop research questions in terms of the developmental stages and skills that are appropriate for children based on their age and experiences. Her research focuses on determining what interventions can be improved for more effective treatment and the importance of implementing treatment at a young age. She hopes to collaborate with faculty as well as take on a student who is interested in research.
Ph.D., M.A., The University of Texas at Austin
B.A., The University of Alabama