F 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Tel. 257-1648 Fax 224-0379 email@example.com
Teaching Assistant: Ian Feinauer Research Center for Families and Children
Office Hours: T 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. EH 107 257-8900
An examination of normal family development processes from a family system’s perspective that will include (a) the predominant models of family functioning;
(b) emerging family forms, and (c) the social and developmental contexts of contemporary families. Emphasis will be on examining beliefs about family normality and developing a framework from which to work with families.
Vail, A. (1998). Taking sides: Clashing views on controversial issues in family and personal relationships, fourth edition. Guilford, Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.
Walsh, F. (Ed.). (1993). Normal family processes, second edition. New York: Guilford Press.
- To conceptualize normal family processes, clarifying different perspectives on the
definition of family normality.
- To describe families from a socio-historical perspective – including common myths
about the normal family and changing family norms.
- To describe the predominant models of normal family function and dysfunction that
guide practitioners’ work with families.
- To describe research findings on normal family processes.
- To describe the diverse patterns of family functioning associated with emerging
family structures and their unique challenges.
- To describe the diversity of family functioning as it relates to the varying sociocultural
contexts of today’s families.
- To describe the impact of recent social policy on contemporary families.
The course format will be lecture-discussion. Class exercises and discussions will be important components of the learning process.
Reasonable accommodations: If you have a special need that may require an accommodation or assistance, please inform the instructor of that fact as soon as possible and no later than September 8.
1. Class attendance and participation: Attendance is an essential ingredient of class
participation. Each student is expected to attend all class sessions and to participate
in class discussions and exercises.
Religious Holidays: Students are entitled to an excused absence for the purpose of
observing major religious holidays. However, the instructor must be notified in
writing by September 8.
2. Reading as assigned throughout the semester. It is expected that students will have
completed assignments prior to each class session. This is essential since class
exercises will be based upon reading assignments.
3. Papers: Each student will analyze a family twice – using a different model each time or two families – using the same model.
4. Genogram: Each student will construct a genogram depicting his/her family or a
family of choice (to be approved by instructor).
5. Class Presentation: Taking Sides
6. Exams: There will be three exams (covering all course materials and activities).
Exams must be written with blue or black ink or sharpened pencil in blue examination
books. Make-up exams will only be given in the case of documented excused
absences. Make-up exams may differ in format from exams given during regularly
scheduled exam times.
** All assignments will be thoroughly explained during class sessions. If you miss the
explanation for an assignment due to an absence, you are responsible to get the
information from a classmate.
** All assignments must be typed or word processed and prepared according to APA
guidelines. Handwritten/hand typed papers will not be read by the instructor or
** Late papers will not be accepted (except in cases of documented excused absence).
Papers must be turned in within the first five minutes of class.
The final grade for the course will reflect class participation (class exercises and attendance are components of participation) as well as the scores earned on papers and exams. Students are required to complete the genogram, all papers, the class presentation, and all exams in order to earn a grade of “C” or better for the course.
Points will be assigned in the following manner:
Exam 1………………………75 points
Exam 2 ……………………...75
Papers (Fam. Analysis) ……. 50 (25 pts. each)
Class Presentation…………. 25
Upon completion of all course requirements, grades will be calculated according to the following scale:
383 – 425 = A
340 - 382 = B
298 - 339 = C
255 – 297 = D
0 – 254 = E
All members of the academic community are expected to produce their own scholastic work. When using outside sources, students are to give credit for ideas and information taken from others. The minimum penalty for cheating and plagiarism is an “E” in the course.
Tentative Course Schedule
Date Topic Assignment
Sept. 1 Intro to Course Syllabus
What is Family to Me?
Sept. 8 Normal Family Processes Chapter 1
Selection of Issue and Position
Sept. 15 Models of Family Functioning Chapter 2
Genogram: Family Structure Family Info.
Sept. 22 The Circumplex Model Chapter 3
September 29 The McMaster Model Chapters 4, 5
October 6 Exam 1
Oct. 20 Divorce and Family Life Chapter 7
Family Analysis Paper 1 due Issues 13,14, 4
Oct. 27 Binuclear Families Chapter 8
Nov. 3 Adoptive Families Chapters 9, 10
Lesbian and Gay Families Issues 3, 12
Family Analysis Paper 2 due
Nov. 10 Exam 2
Nov. 17 Cultural Diversity, Race, Ch. 11,12
November 24 Field Assignment: Genograms
Dec. 1 Illness and Disability Ch. 15
Genogram due at beginning of class
Dec. 8 The Changing Family Life Cycle Ch. 14 and 16
Family Policy Issues 16,