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Alyssa McElwain

Alyssa McElwain


Associate Professor
Human Development & Family Sciences Program Option


Ph.D. Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, 2015
M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy, Purdue University, 2008
B.S. Psychology, Kansas State University, 2006


I primarily teach upper-division undergraduate course focused on human development and family science (HDFS) with an emphasis on prevention through family life education. I also supervise undergraduate HDFS student internships. In all my classes, my goal is to provide an engaging learning environment where students actively participate in their learning. I also strive to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom through experiential learning. I think that learning occurs best when people work hard and practice using the information they are learning.  

Courses Taught

FCSC 4125: Professional Practices in HDFS
FCSC 4118: Family Policy
FCSC 3122: Adolescence
FCSC 3119: Parent-Child Relationships
FCSC 4106: Special Problems in FCS: Relationship Education
FCSC 4132: Internship in Human Development and Family Science
FCSC 2200: Professionalism and Communication in FCS


My research focuses on understanding close relationships during adolescence and emerging adulthood through both basic and applied approaches. I am also interested in how experiential learning affects student outcomes. Recently, my research focuses on:

  • Peer-led relationship education programming for adolescents and emerging adults

  • The effectiveness of youth-focused relationship education programs.

  • The role of parenting practices in individual well-being within different cultural contexts.

  • Experiential learning and student development and learning outcomes.

Selected Publications

McElwain, A. (2019). Learning by doing: Undergraduate student perceptions of a family life education service-learning assignment. Family Science Review, 23(3), 71-90.

McElwain, A., McGill, J., & Savasuk, R. (2017). Youth relationship education: A meta-analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 499-507.

McElwain, A., Finnegan, V., Whitaker, A., Kerpelman, J., Adler-Baeder, F., & Duke, A. (2016). Evaluation and lessons learned from an undergraduate service-learning course providing youth-focused relationship education. Evaluation and Program Planning, 58, 116-124. https://


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