Family Foundations of Youth Development

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Family Foundations of Youth Development

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Our Purpose

The purpose of the Family Foundation project is to understand the role of family, community, and faith in helping youth survive and thrive in today’s world.

Begun in 2016, this project has recruited hundreds of families and provided important insights into the experiences of youth today. In an effort to further understand the experiences of youth around the United States, we are currently recruiting families from various locations to participate.

The results from the Family Foundations project will help parents, policymakers, community, civic, and religious leaders to strengthen youth in a rapidly changing world.

Our Student Team
Alyssa Kozlowski
Emily Purtschert
Aaron Broberg
Blaise Dobson
Anjelicda Jerez
Eliza Peterson
Isabella Wright
Emily Burnham
Jared Benjamin
Ren Martin
Joseph Sheen
Kyle Bird
Kelsey Johnson
McKay Morgan
Megan Gale
Mitchell Wilks
Brenna Sullivan
Tyler Hayward
Mikel Cressman
Michael Goodman

Michael Goodman was born and raised in Southern California. He has degrees from four different universities including a Ph.D. in Marriage, Family and Human Development from Brigham Young University. Mike has worked for the Church Educational System since 1989. After serving as the president of an international mission, he began teaching at Brigham Young University where he teaches classes in marriage and family. He is an active researcher of the intersection of family and faith. He is currently serving as the Chair of the Religion, Spirituality and Family Section of the National Council on Family Relations, the largest academic organization in America that specializes in studying marriage and family. He has won awards for both his teaching and his research and has a passion for working with and for adolescents and young adults. He is happily married to Tiina Anita Goodman who also has a degree in Human Development. He has two children, both married and three wonderful grandchildren.

Sam Hardy

Sam grew up in the farm town of Oakley, Idaho. Sam is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University, where he has been since 2007. He graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development, and received his masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was also a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Virginia before coming to BYU. Sam has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as numerous book chapters, and is currently an associate editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence. His research interests include adolescent moral development, identity formation, motivation, and religion and spirituality. Sam has been married to his wife Lois for about 20 years, and has two sons and a dog.

Justin Dyer

W. Justin Dyer is the principal investigator of this study. He received his Ph.D. in Human and Community Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after which he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Auburn University. Following this he joined the faculty in the BYU School of Family where he taught courses on family processes and statistical methodology. He became part of the Religious Education faculty in 2015 and currently teaches religion and family courses as well as graduate statistics. His research includes fatherhood with a particular emphasis on fathers in stressful circumstances such as fathers of children with disabilities and incarcerated fathers. He is also the principal investigator for the Family Foundations of Youth Development project, a longitudinal study examining how family functioning influences youth development with a particular interest in how their faith develops from early adolescence to early adulthood.

Freshman Applicants

Mark was raised in the Houston, Texas area. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Human Resource Development, a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in Educational Psychology, a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in Mental Health Counseling, and a Ph.D. from Utah State University in Family and Human Development. After Mark worked for 21 years in the Church Educational System and in a private counseling practice, he returned to Brigham Young University in the Fall of 2010 where he accepted a position as an associate professor on the Religion Faculty. Mark has published several books and articles on topics ranging from marriage to parenthood. Mark’s research interests include marriage, parenthood, fathering, and adolescent development. He has been married for over 30 years to Janie Cook. They are the parents of eight children and fourteen grandchildren.

Alyssa loves learning, the outdoors, music, art, and finds joy in life wherever she goes. She was married to her wonderful husband in June of 2018, and he is also attending school. She graduated April of 2020 from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience, and is pursuing a Master's degree in Neuroscience beginning in the fall, also at Brigham Young University. Alyssa loves horseback riding and teaching riding lessons and piano lessons. She is passionate about research, especially research for the betterment of individuals: she believes wholeheartedly in the Family Foundations of Youth Development Project, and in its ability to help teens and parents. She has been involved with the project for 3 years, and is excited to continue to work as a lead managing research assistant with those who participate.

Megan is from Mapleton, Utah and is going to start the Marriage Family and Human Development Master’s program at BYU in the fall. She has been a part of the Family Foundations Project since January 2018 and looks forward continuing to serve as a team managing lead. Megan loves studying how religion influences different aspects of life including family relationships, body image, and even media use. She hopes to continue her education to obtain a PhD studying religious influences in families. She would love to become a professor to teach, mentor, and do research with students. In her free time Megan enjoys watching movies, cooking yummy food, and working outside gardening and hobby farming.

Emily is from Gilbert, Arizona and is student at Brigham Young University. She is working on a major in Psychology with a Family Life minor. After graduation, she plans on attending a graduate program for Marriage and Family Therapy. Emily enjoys ice skating, basketball, playing violin, and creative writing. She served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Florida Tallahassee Mission. She loves missionary work and helping others come unto Christ, which inspired her to start a YouTube channel called The Missionary Approach. She is new to the research team this summer.

Eliza is a sociology major at BYU. You can most often find her sitting on the grass on campus, fully engaged in her next project and research, only popping her head up to enjoy the sound of the birds chirping or look at the beautiful Utah mountains. When she isn’t working, she is talking to people, learning their stories, and writing (or painting) out new perspectives. She hopes that working on Youth Foundations will give her an opportunity to make new connections which will strengthen both you and her!

McKay is a Junior studying Psychology at BYU. He is from Vancouver, Washington and loves everything about the Pacific Northwest. He loves staying active, working outdoors, and loves watching and re-watching all sorts of movies. McKay has plans to continue his education into graduate school for Counseling Psychology and loves learning about how we can better cope with mental health issues. He hopes to have a career in therapy and consultation for adolescents and children.

Tyler is a senior studying clinical psychology at BYU. He was raised in West Point, Utah and is the middle of three children. He served in the Illinois Chicago mission from 2014 to 2016. He also recently married the love of his life and plans to move with her to Washington D.C. next year. Tyler is working toward a PhD in Clinical Psychology. In what little free time he has, Tyler enjoys playing video games and listening to YouTube podcasts.

Kyle is a Computer Science major from Mapleton, Utah with a minor in Mathematics. He just finished his Freshman year at Brigham Young University and is preparing to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ. After graduating with his degree, Kyle wants to specialize in computer graphics research and move on to get a PhD at a prestigious graduate school. His career goals include researching and developing new tools for Pixar animators and making computer graphics a more accessible hobby for people around the country. In his free time, Kyle loves to hike, read, play the piano, and go on random adventures with his friends. Kyle plays the carillon on BYU campus (look it up!) and one day hopes to be a member of the BYU performing groups. He loves learning everything about everything and is excited to be a part of a research project that focuses on the most important things in his life: religion and family.

Emily is from Lehi, Utah. She is studying Psychology at BYU and will graduate in a year. She plans to go to graduate school in the Pacific Northwest to get a PhD in Social/Personality Psychology. Emily is involved with several professors on campus studying religion and child development. This is Emily's first year on the Foundations Project, but she is excited to contribute to the project in any way that she can. In her free time, Emily likes to hike, mountain bike, play sports, roller skate, and read. "I guess I'm also alright at drawing," she says. Her biggest goal in life (aside from getting to know and helping others) is to hike the tallest peaks in the United States! Emily is an advocate for the outdoors and smiling in the face of problems. Emily speaks Romanian and likes making pizza every Friday night. Emily is stoked to interact with the participants in the Family Foundations of Youth Development Project 2020!

Joseph is from Twin Falls Idaho and just finished his Sophomore year at Brigham Young University. He is majoring in Psychology and plans to attend graduate school to become a Developmental Psychologist working with adolescents and young adults. In the future, Joseph is interested in doing research and teaching at a university in this area. He likes to read, go on walks, and go to art museums and plays. He also loves all kinds of weather and will go out in all of them just to experience the feeling of nature.

Anjelica Jerez is a twenty-three-year-old Psychology Major at Brigham Young University. She was born in Utah but has also spent eighteen months living as a full-time missionary in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Additionally, Anjelica lived in Orlando, Florida for eight months working for Walt Disney World, where she remains a seasonal employee. She is also currently employed at El Matador in Bountiful, where she has worked as a waitress for three years and is a new employee at TURN Community Services where she provides Family Support to individuals with disabilities as a Direct Support Professional. After graduating from BYU, Anjelica intends on going to graduate school for psychology, as she hopes to specialize in Child Psychology. She is grateful to be a part of the Family Foundations Research Team and looks forward to learning more about spirituality and faith in adolescents. When she is not at work or at school, Anjelica enjoys spending time her six-month old puppy Murphy, reading classic literature, drawing, developing black and white film in the dark room, or at the gym. Her hobbies also include yoga, meditation, hiking, camping, and dancing.

Kelsey is from Olympia, Washington and is the oldest of four kids. She enjoys spending time in nature, rereading books, playing with puppies, and watching movies in her pjs. After her 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Milan, Italy, Kelsey declared her fourth major: psychology. She will be graduating from BYU in April 2021 (hopefully) with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a plan to attend grad school to study school psychology. Her interest in working with teenagers led her to working on this project, and she is excited to assist in this important research.

Mikel is a Psychology major with a minor in Communications from Spanish Fork, Utah. He is most interested in health psychology with specific interests in stress management and biofeedback. His plans involve getting a PhD in clinical psychology. Mikel enjoys reading, hiking, and camping.

Isabella Wright is an undergraduate student studying Psychology, with a minor in Art History. Her undergraduate research has focused primarily on adolescent health psychology, particularly looking at eating habits, exercise, and sleep as they relate to executive functioning. Additionally, her research has included adolescent private religiosity in relation to mood disorders. She is applying to PhD programs in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology this Fall. She hopes to continue her research in her graduate program by combining her research interests and examining the psychological relationship adolescents have with religion and how that influences their physical health. Isabella grew up primarily in Palm Beach, Florida, though spent a portion of her life living in London, England. She enjoys critiquing movies, reading, and visiting art museums with her father. She loves speaking French with her roommates and dancing in their kitchen together. Her favorite snack is apples and peanut butter, always paired with a Diet Coke.

Mitchell is from Flower Mound, Texas. He is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and is planning on studying dentistry. He is the second of five children and loves talking about any and all sports. He loves watching movies and spending time with his wife. Mitchell served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in San Pedro Sula, Honduras from 2014-2016. He loves speaking Spanish and learning more about Latin culture. His favorite kind of food is tacos. Mitchell has been a research assistant for the foundations project since January 2020. He looks forward to learning more about religion’s role in adolescents so he can use this knowledge to help others in their faith for the rest of his life.

Blaise is a Junior studying Psychology along with Spanish and Portuguese. With her love for languages, she hopes to be able to use them as a future counselor to help other communities with their mental health. Her goal is to graduate with a master’s and be able to do group counseling with young adults. Blaise is from Vancouver, WA and loves everything about the Pacific Northwest. Blaise also enjoys baking, playing guitar, sewing, reading, and exercising. She is excited to start collecting data for research this summer to help her understand how religion can affect others.

Ren is from Delaware and is the third oldest of six children. Some of her favorite things to do is bake, go on a wake, and spend time with friends. She is a Psychology major and is getting minors in Family Life and Gerontology at Brigham Young University. She has dreams to be a mental health counselor and work with those struggling with mental health in church. Ren has a huge fascination with the relationship between mental health and religion.

Jared is a sophomore at BYU and is studying Social Science Teaching. He was born and raised in Farmington, UT (right by Lagoon), and has been an avid BYU sports fan his whole life. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ to New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud. He loves reading books, snow skiing, riding his unicycle, spending time with his wife and helping her with her photography. He hopes to be able to become a seminary teacher, and if not seminary, to teach history or government classes at the high school level. He hopes that working on this project will give him experience to be able to better help the students he will come to teach.

Brenna is a sophomore at Brigham Young University who is studying to become a Spanish Teacher specializing in Dual Language Immersion in education. She is from Murrieta, California and she enjoys hiking, swimming, and playing volleyball with her friends. She served an LDS mission in Concepción, Chile for eighteen months where she discovered her love of teaching and connecting with children and teenagers. Her desire to understand how to better the lives of children led to her participation in the Family Foundations Project, and she is excited to learn more and gain experience so as to apply her knowledge to the raising of her own family in the future.

Aaron is from Los Angeles, California. He is currently attending Brigham Young University and will graduate soon with a bachelor’s in psychology and a Minor in Business. After graduating, he plans on attending Law School. His goal is to eventually work in International Law, helping businesses and individuals traverse the legal regulations in various countries. He enjoys doing research on religion and history. Aaron also loves going to the beach, surfing, reading, and playing ping pong.