Using the Network to Teach Work and Family Issues

The Sloan Work and Family Research Network provides multidisciplinary, credible resources to classroom teachers and their students.  To best meet the information needs of these user groups, the Network formed two task forces to promote effective methods for teaching work and family. Based on the work of these task forces, and insights generated in numerous teaching workshops, here are ways the Network can be used to inform family course designs, the implementation of class activities, and the engagement of students in active learning.  See below for:

  • Using the Network for Course Development
  • Using the Network for Class Activities
  • Using the Network to Introduce Work-Family Issues to Students
  • Using the Network for Student Research Projects 

Using the Network for Course Development

Developing new courses in any subject area requires many decisions.  What textbooks should I use?  What topics should I cover? How should I evaluate students' progress?  To help answer these questions for work-family courses, the Network provides a rich archive of syllabi. These syllabi, created by leading work-family teacher-scholars, represent courses in diverse disciplines.  Instructors can scan these syllabi to understand:

  • Common course components
  • Typical topics addressed
  • Order of presentation of topics
  • Frequent primary readings
  • Innovative student assignments
  • Integration of student presentations in course designs
  • Evaluation criteria for successful learning

Using the Network for Class Activities

Students--especially those who have yet to experience work-family tensions--commonly lack the experiences or knowledge needed to fully grasp the challenges inherent in managing a career and a family.  To help address this concern, the Network provides numerous summaries of successful class activities and workshops, as well as elaborate multisession teaching modules.  The Network offers a wide range of teaching activities that provide numerous strategies to enliven courses through:

  • Group discussions
  • Field observations
  • Film presentations
  • Content analysis activities
  • Other innovative pedagogies

Work-family teachers are making substantial inroads in crafting innovative teaching strategies.

Using the Network to Introduce Work-Family Issues to Students

Few work and family books are designed specifically for undergraduate student audiences, leaving it to instructors to compile sets of readings.  The Network provides another option, as the wealth of information in the Work and Family Encyclopedia is readily available online and free of charge. In addition, the Network offers resources about workplace issues and information on state public policy

In 2008 and 2009, members of the Teaching Task Force organized their class syllabi so that students would be encouraged to use the Network. This enabled teachers to assign students to:

  • "Surf" the Network to understand the wide range of issues addressed by the work-family community of scholars.
  • Select specific readings in the Work and Family Encyclopedia.
  • Survey the resources found in the Topic Pages for use in student-led class presentations.
  • Examine employer case studies and consider how a "business case" may be established for family-responsive practices

Using the Network for Student Research Projects

One of the biggest challenges that many students face is locating reliable sources of information, and their work can be hampered by difficulties in locating credible research. This concern is compounded by the multidisciplinary nature of work-family research.  Because few library database searches cross disciplinary boundaries, traditional methods of locating work-family scholarship may prove inadequate. 

The Network has earned the distinction as the premier online destination for information about work and family. The Network's numerous resources provide a venue for investigation of work-family dynamics that enable students to examine:

  • Specific demographic groups
  • Particular industries and employers
  • The latest work-family legislation and state policy
  • Cutting-edge workplace practices

The Network offers numerous resources, including the Work and Family Encyclopedia, the Work and Family Glossary, the Statistics Database, Flexibility Case Studies, Family-Friendly Employers, the Bills and Statutes Database, and links to additional work-family websites. In addition, the Literature Database provides citations of publications in scholarly journals and, in many cases, offers access to full-text articles.  It also offers Topic Pages of information on critical work and family concerns. 

Work and Family Teaching Task Forces


Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Boston College
Ellen Ernst Kossek, Michigan State University
Carrie Leana, University of Pittsburgh
Shelley MacDermid, Purdue University
Patricia Raskin,Teachers College Columbia University
Mary Secret, University of Kentucky
Stephen Sweet, Ithaca College


Lonnie Golden, Penn State Abington
Susan Lambert, University of Chicago
Chris Morett, Fordham University
Stephen Sweet, Ithaca College
Margaret Usdansky, Syracuse University