Dr. Kevin Shafer
There were four goals of this MEG project. Unlike most MEG projects, I employed graduate students because the School of Social Work lacks undergraduate students. Below I outline the four goals of the project and discuss how each goal was met. Notably, we found some interesting effects related to relationship self-regulation in remarriage, which has led us to work in other areas, as well.
(1) Produce high-quality research papers that will be published in well-respected, visible journal in Social Work and related fields.
So far, three papers from the MEG project have been published. (Student authors are indicated by *) They are:
Pace, Garrett T.*, Kevin Shafer, Todd M. Jensen*, & Jeffry H. Larson. In press. “Stepparenting Issues and Relationship Quality: The Role of Clear Communication.” Journal of Social Work. (available ahead of print; DOI: 10.1177/1468017313504508)
Shafer, Kevin, Jensen, Todd M.*, Garrett T. Pace*, & Jeffry H. Larson. 2013. “Former Spouse Ties and Post-Divorce Relationship Quality: Relationship Effort as a Mediator.” Journal of Social Service Research, 39(5): 629-645.
Shafer, Kevin, Todd M. Jensen*, & Jeffry H. Larson. 2012. “Relationship Effort, Satisfaction, and Stability Across Union Type.” Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. (Epub ahead of print: doi: 10.1111/jmft.12007).
All three of these journals are Tier I/Tier II journals according to School of Social Work and/or FHSS criteria.
Papers that have received a revise & resubmit:
Jensen, Todd M.*, Kevin Shafer, & Jeffry H. Larson. “(Step)parenting Attitudes and Expectations: Implications for Stepfamily Functioning and Clinical Intervention.” Revise & Resubmit, Families in Society (Tier II journal)
Other papers currently in progress or under review from this project include:
Shafer, Kevin, Michael Bartlett*, & Jeffry H. Larson. “First Marriage Experiences, Communication, and Conflict in Post-Divorce Unions.”
Shafer, Kevin, Todd M. Jensen*, & Jeffry H. Larson. “Associations Between Relationship Effort and Relationship Quality in First Marriage: An Actor-Partner Interdependence Model.”
Jensen, Todd M.*, Kevin Shafer, & Jeffry H. Larson. “Relationship Quality Measurement and Covariate Influence: Differences Between Individuals in First and Second Marriages.”
Shafer, Kevin, Zachary Duvall*, & Jeffry H. Larson. “Attitudes about Family Life and their Association with Relationship Self-Regulation.” Under review, Family Process (Tier I journal)
(2) Have students take a central role in the production of publications, including as primary (first authors)
One published manuscript and two other manuscripts have students as first authors. All papers have a student as the second author, except one.
(3) Present research at top-tier professional meetings
Research presentations regarding this project were presented at the Society for Social Work & Research meetings and the Council on Social Work Education meetings. These are two national meetings for social workers.
(4) Become familiar with research on divorce and remarriage with the goal that students will continue to pursue the research agenda into PhD programs.
Currently, one of the students who worked on the project is pursuing PhD studies at the University of North Carolina, with a focus on remarriage and stepfamilies. Another student is a research associate with the Center for Child Wellbeing at Princeton University.
Mentoring Environment Students met with the PI weekly or every other week to discuss paper projects, data analysis, and other issues. Students also frequently met as a group with the PI to discuss potential research projects that could be built on the MEG grant. For example, once we identified the importance of self-regulatory behaviors in remarriage, we became interested in how self-regulation in remarriage and stepfamilies differed from first marriage or cohabitation. Students were also given one-on-one methodological training with the PI when necessary.
Generally speaking, our research found that former spouse ties, stepparenting issues, and other factors
associated with ex-spouse relationships (whether monetary, co-parenting, emotional, or something else)
negatively impact how satisfied and stable people feel in their romantic relationships after divorce.
However, we also found that several factors can help alleviate some of these issues. For example, clear
communication between partners, increased effort, and positive expectations about stepfamily living
reduced the negative impact of ex-spouse ties on remarital relationships.
Student Participants and Outcomes
We continue to work on the data, which may lead to additional publications and presentations. However,
as it currently stands these are the student outcomes:
Garrett Pace: 2 research papers, 2 professional presentations (CSWE & SSWR)
Todd Jensen: 6 research papers, 2 professional presentations (CSWE & SSWR)
Zachary Duvall: 1 research paper
Michael Bartlett: 1 research paper
Exact budget expenditures are hard to know, given we also had funding from other sources in the same
account. However, the estimated expenditures are:
Travel for PI and students $5,000
Books and other materials $1,900
Total expenditures $17,000