What’s the Connection between Thanksgiving and Family Communication? Marie Haverfield, USF’s Newest Professor Helps Bridge the Gap!

What’s the Connection between Thanksgiving and Family Communication? Marie Haverfield, USF’s Newest Professor Helps Bridge the Gap!

 by Brianna Jones

It’s that time of year again USF COMS majors! We are contemplating classes for the upcoming semester and anticipating spending time with family over the holidays! Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we are reflecting on things and people for which we are grateful. For most of us, family takes the top spot on our gratitude list. Besides delicious food, family discussion is a valued component of Thanksgiving. Do you ever find yourself contemplating the way your family communicates during the holidays? Professor Marie Haverfield, USF’s newest communication studies professor, can help us understand these communication styles we observe at the table and in our overall family life!


Q: Tell us about your family relations class next semester. What can students expect?

I’m currently developing the syllabus. Throughout the Family Relations Course, we will focus on the following questions: Who are we? How are we products of our environment? We shall navigate through different family types and circumstances that people might experience such as conflict. We will also discuss mental health in families, the family life cycle, and stressors within family life. Students’ main assignment will be to construct a genealogy, a family tree, and take family communication concepts that we’ve discussed in class and apply those ideologies to their own families. Students will be expected to reflect on their own family communication styles and identify communication patterns.


Q: How does your teaching experience at USF compare to your experience at other universities?

I love teaching USF students because they are really engaged.  Students genuinely comprehend the value of an education and don’t take it for granted. I really respect the students that have full time jobs and go to school. Not only are they extremely hard-working, they add valuable contributions to class discussion because they view things from a unique perspective.


Q: How would you describe your teaching style?

 I’m really passionate about what I teach. Most importantly, I like to have fun! The class is mostly discussion-based and highly interactive. I believe class should be centered around discussion because it enables students to take things beyond face-value. When participating in class conversation, we should be taking in information and try to establish meaning for ourselves. Discussions allow students to see outside of themselves and gain new perspectives from their classmates that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. It can also help students cope with experiences that may be going on in their lives. Furthermore, it also allows us to think critically about the theories relevant to course material. Students should think reflexively and ask themselves the following questions: Is this really true for everyone? Is there more to be done to test the validity of these theories? My teaching style incorporates mixed methods, both qualitative and quantitative.


Q: What mixed methods do you use in your own research?

In my own personal research, I have used both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative techniques I have used include surveys and content analysis. Focus groups and interviews are qualitative approaches I like to incorporate in my research as well. I’ve also done observations in which I video record an interaction between two people. Then I analyze the recording and rate every interaction based on a theory. There’s some debate as to whether or not observation is considered quantitative or qualitative research, but I think it’s a nice blend of the two methods. I try to do a little bit of everything to try to get a well-rounded perspective in those situations.


Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of teaching?

Outside of work, I enjoy reading sci-fi novels, watching movies, and running. I also love spending time with my husband and 2- year-old daughter Ainsley, and raising my adorable pitbulls!




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