Publications and Research

I believe my work has helped to build the identity of human services professionals, focusing on three specific areas of scholarship: marginalized populations, competence in human services practice, and advancement of human services education and the profession (Diagram of Research Foci). My research aids me in providing an understanding of specific human services skills, competencies, and education, as I engage in discussing the importance of adapting, expanding and developing standards, principles and guidelines specific to the human services practice.

Marginalized Populations

My first research area focuses on human services practices with marginalized populations. This is an area that I am very passionate about since most of my professional expertise in the field has been in direct practice with marginalized populations, specifically Hispanic families, African American families, and LGBTQ clients. In total, I have five publications (four empirical and one conceptual) that focus on marginalized populations. I am the first author on three of these publications. I am the second author on one and the third author on another. Specifically, my research is geared towards identifying the relationship between family conflict and parenting dimensions among both African American and Hispanic families and then identifying implications for practice within these populations. In addition, my research explores training needs and barriers for human service agencies that serve LGBTQ clients, as well as identifying assessment and screening challenges for this population.

Competence in Human Services Practice

I currently have five manuscripts (four empirical and one conceptual) addressing efforts to advance literature on competence in the human services practice. I am the first author on a qualitative study that provides a model for practice with at-risk families and the second author on two studies that explore interprofessional collaboration in human services. I am also the second author on a study that utilizes qualitative methods to explore competence among rural human services professionals, as well as the second author on a study that focuses on advancing the use of ethical standards in the field of human services. These studies foster the development of competence in the human services practice in order to improve guidelines and advance human services practitioner identity development.

Advancing Human Services Field and Education

My third area of research focuses on moving the field of human services forward and expanding human services specific education. It is my belief that clearly characterizing the field in this manner will aid in the identity development of human services practitioners. I have six publications in this area of research.Two articles are dedicated to developing a Holland Code for the human services profession, whereby I am the second author on an article that utilizes the O’Net Profiler survey to identify a Holland Code for the field and the first author on a article that focuses on the need for advocacy in expanding the Bureau of Labor Statistics classification of the field. As well, I am the first author on two studies that focus on the human services credential, Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP), and the first author on a study that identifies the interdisciplinary nature of the field and provides insight to advance membership in the national organization. I am also the second author on a study that discusses the development of service learning focused study abroad trips.


Complete list of Dr. Key's published work and presentations can be found in Research Gate

  • Sparkman N, Neukrug E. Percept ions of t he HS-BCP credent ial: A survey of human service
    prof essionals. Journal of Human Services. Fall 2014; 34(1):24-37.
  • Sparkman N, Lot t T . Af rican American f amily f unct ioning: Relat ionship bet ween parent ing
    dimensions and f amily conf lict . T he Int ernat ional Journal of Int erdisciplinary Social and
    Communit y St udies. 2015 January; 10(1):1-12
  • Sparkman N, Woodrow K, Brown K. Parent ing Dif f erences in Minorit y Families: A St udy of
    Parent ing Dimension in Hispanic and Af rican American Families. Journal of Int ernat ional
    Int erdisiplinary Cult ural St udies. 2015 April; 9(2):1-12
  • Moe J, Sparkman N. Assessing service providers at GLBQ-Af f irming Communit y Agencies
    on t heir percept iosn of T raining Needs and Barriers t o Service. Journal of gay & lesbian
    social services. 2015 August ; 27(3):350-370