I am a Professor in the Department of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University-Mankato. I have been teaching courses in the area of Child Development and Family Studies since 2008. I have taught a number of classes during my time at MSU-Mankato, but I consistently teach Parenting Education, Lifespan Development, and The Role of Play in Child Development. I received my PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Psychology. I am currently the Chair of the Department of Family Consumer Science. In my professional life I am most proud of the first book I co-authored "The Power of Playful Learning: The Green Edition" and my most recent publication of the online textbook "Lifespan Development: Telling the Human Story."
I have presented at international, national, state, and regional conferences to promote the power of play: International Play Association, US Play Coalition Play Conference, Minnesota Association of Children's Mental Health, Minnesota Association for the Education of Youth Children/MN School-Age Care Alliance (MnAEYC/MnSACA), and Minnesota Social Service Association Regional Conference.
Why Kids Need to take Risks
While many may shy away from the idea of “risky play,” Heather Von Bank encourages it. This talk discusses the importance and benefits of play. Learn how “risky play” supports children’s physical, mental, and social-emotional development. Dr. Heather Von Bank is a Professor and Department Chair of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She teaches courses on Parenting Education, Lifespan Development, and The Role of Play in Development. In 2013, Dr. Von Bank co-authored her first book, "The Power of Playful Learning: The Green Edition”; her most recent publication is an online textbook titled "Lifespan Development: Telling the Human Story." She has presented on the topic of play and development at local, regional, national, and international conferences. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
Demonstrate the ability to teach effectively
Syllabus for Fall 2020/2021
Syllabus for Spring 2021/2022
Teaching Evaluation Excel
Scholarly or Creative Achievement or Research
Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children
Service to the university and community
My teaching philosophy centers on finding ways to impact the lives of others, to encourage my student’s critical thinking abilities, and provide opportunities for students to apply child development and family studies concepts to real life situations. It is my passion and purpose to help my students blend work and real life, so that we truly serve others by doing what we love best. I focus on reaching students diverse learning styles, through creating interactive and hands-on assessments, and varied course delivery methods. I enjoy lecturing at the front of the room but also step aside and let the students be responsible for presenting course material. I try to create an environment for students to practice critical thinking skills before they enter the work force, graduate school, and life beyond the classroom. I am motivated to use technology to strengthen in-class discussions and activities, use hands-on real-world learning teaching and assessment, and use diverse educational pedagogies to tap into students’ different learning styles. I've had the pleasure of teaching Child Development Family Studies courses in the Department of Family Consumer Science for the last 12 years. I regularly teach Parenting Education and Lifespan Development, and I have also developed my own coursework including the classes The Benefits of Play in Child Development and Adolescents, Parents, and Peers. Please see the link above for a listing of my course load from 2008 - 2020.
In all of my classes, students are required to post their opinions, comments, and questions to the D2L discussion board. They are either responsible for reading material and posting comments before class or post comments to specific topical discussions after class. In addition, my students participate in online quizzes and exercises via the online publication that I wrote in 2018, Lifespan Development: Telling the Human Story. Students are required to complete fill-in-the-blank , short answer,and matching activities to meet the requirements for participation points in FCS 301 Lifespan Development. Please click on the link above for an example of an online exercise in the online publication that students complete for participation points.
It has been a highlight of my career to develop three brand new courses and introduce them to the Child Development Family Studies program curriculum. I was inspired by a graduate school mentor to develop a course about play and I created it the summer of 2009, FCS 402: Benefits of Play in Child Development. In addition to students learning about theories of play and ways to implement play into curriculum with children, this course culminated in a community wide play day in which the students designed play activities for families. Creating the play day activity, as well as participating in the event, is such a significant part of this class. It fully demonstrates to students how important it is to come prepared with all material, be flexible within the situation, and problem solve when necessary. Students earn "badges" for their final grade in the course as they complete activities such as reflection papers, observations, and engaging in the community play day. Please click on the link above to view the badges that students received via the website "Credly.".
I have developed a variety of teaching practices that are now my "go to" methods for setting up a course and helping students achieve success. In each of my classes, students have a rubric for their writing assignments. For example, in FCS: 488 Parenting Education, students select popular books on parenting and are responsible for coming to class and engaging in a “book club” style dialogue. This not only promotes group work and critical thinking about issues related to parenting, but also provides a fun atmosphere to talk about things that really matter to parents. In many of my classes I also require the students to lead a discussion or presentation. Students are either put into a group to present a certain topic, or they are individually responsible for leading a class discussion. Tapping into students’ diverse learning is something that I highly value; by using a variety of techniques it can spice up the nature of a lecture class and also engage students who learn by seeing, hearing, and also doing. Please click on the link above to view a student group's presentation about parenting teenage girls.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight the experience I had to teach multiple sections of the First Year Experience Seminar. It was my pleasure to work with the College of Allied Health and Nursing Learning Community; these experiences were rewarding because of the student’s willingness to participate in events on campus and their openness to share the experiences with the class. I invited many guest speakers to talk about issues such as living on campus as a transgender student, how to balance your checkbook, and how to balance school, work and maintaining a social life. I enjoyed meeting the next generation of college students and used the opportunity to not only promote the Family Consumer Science major but to keep in line with new learning trends of students.
2009 - 2019 Teaching Evaluation Evidence*
In this course we will study human development from conception through adulthood including aging and death. Emphasis is placed on physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Observation and documentation of sequences in development of individuals across the lifespan are required.
Family Consumer Science Teaching Standards Addressed by this Course:
3.A.8 : The developmental changes of individuals across the life span and ways to meet their corresponding physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and moral development needs.
Welcome to FCS 301 Video*
Example PPT Lecture*
This course will cover the research and theory related to parent-child relationships across the lifespan. Course topics include parenting issues related to parenting patterns, structures and techniques. A focus on the development of both parents and children and the interaction between them and the social environment guides the framework.
In this course students will study how adolescents' lives are affected by their relationships with their parents and with their peers; moreover, this course will focus on the ways that parents and peers affect adolescents' development. The relationships and interactions that adolescents have with parents and peers and will be addressed through three areas that affect adolescents' development: Indirect Effect, Direct Effects, and through various other contexts (ie sexuality, ethnicity)
Treat this like an introduction to graduate level course
Expect high level of participation
In this course we will focus on the importance of play in the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development of the child. The culminating class project will be the development and organization of a Play Day that takes place on Friday June 14th 10:00 – 12:00 pm. Students will develop an activity and create an informational poster. Attendance at the Play Day is MANDATORY.
COURSE OBJECTIVES: Welcome to a class all about Badges! Students will engage in activities, write a play journal, participate in class discussions, and create a Play Day project in order to earn the following five badges through the online badge system Credly.
Scholarly or Creative Achievement or Research
My philosophy for conducting meaningful research in the area of child development and family studies includes addressing developmental issues in parent-child relationships, promoting the benefits of play in child development, exploring adolescent-parent-peer linkages, and project based or service-learning. I learned early in my career that I would have to conduct research differently demanding teaching load and increasing number of advisees. It was no longer feasible to conduct in-depth interviews and focus groups, which had been my primary data collection method. Therefore, I began to use the resources available at MSU through a larger professional networking group. I have attended and presented at major conferences, worked with colleagues to submit a proposal for a special issue journal, and received funds from the College of Allied Health and Nursing to study service-learning. I have had the privilege of working with student researchers and have collaborated colleagues to write a book about the power of play.
Writing across the Lifespan
Von Bank, H. (2018). Lifespan Development: Telling the Human Story. Dubuque: Great River Learning Technologies.
While continuing to maintain the quality of the classes that I teach, I have worked to improve my knowledge about core content and explore other options for course delivery. I worked with Great River Learning* publishing company to develop an online text for my FCS 301: Lifespan Development course. I wanted my students to have a different platform in which to read and learn about human development; an option that would be tailored to 21st Century Skills, specifically through developing curriculum and instruction that “Enables innovative learning methods that integrate the use of supportive technologies, inquiry- and problem-based approaches and higher order thinking skills (http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework).
Not only is the text that I wrote specifically centered on the theories of human development but it also includes writing exercises that encourage students to think critically about the application of theories rather than memorize and recite theories. Students have been using the online textbook for four semesters (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020).
Power of Play
When I consider all the significant moments in my life, including my wedding day, and the births of my two sons, I have to include the day in 2014 when I found out that I would be a published author of a book. My colleagues, Joyce Hemphill and Laura Scheinholtz, and I set out to develop a book that would encourage adults to let children learn through playful activities. We created a "how to" guide for educators. The idea for the book stemmed from the play days* the three of us hosted in Madison WI. During play days, we invited members of the community, families, and children to play with household items for a chance to engaged in free and unstructured play. I had no idea that my involvement in these play days would later evolve into my area of research for the next 10 years. Please see this timeline* that illustrates my evolution as a play researcher over the last 10 years and an account of my major research accomplishments "by the numbers", NPR Marketplace style.
Evidence: 2016 - Minnesota State University Author - Reception
In my previous life as a graduate student, I worked with my advisor Brad Brown on a series of studies about the role of peers in the lives of parents and teens. Many of our studies focused on the perceived right for parents to know about their adolescent's life with friends, specifically their peers' pro-social activities, anti-social activities, information about their relationship, and their whereabouts (ie who, what, where, when why questions). Although I have not been actively engaged in this research track, I had the opportunity to co-author a paper with my former advisor and his graduate assistant.
I continue to use the information gathered from studies like this in my class FCS 403: Adolescents, Parents, and Peers.
Evidence: Link to Von Bank Publications
Service Learning & Project Based Learning
I have always been interested in using different teaching practices and learning assessment to reach students, particularly due to the hands-on nature of the "play class" that I teach every summer. The official title of the play class, The Role of Play in Child Development, has included a service learning project from the first time I taught it in 2008. The community play day that my students and I host at Rasmussen Woods Park is a service learning project; students create activities using low-cost or no-cost recyclables to encourage families to play. I have presented about the use of this service learning activity at conferences at MSU-Mankato including our department's workshop, FACS to the Max (include here), the national AAFCS conference.
Last year, I had the chance to present at the US Play Coalition Value of Play conference a research project I developed to implement a project based learning activity into my FCS 301 Lifespan Development, face to face section. I presented this topic along with colleagues for a Play Institute titled "Play and Education from a Global Perspective." This session was specifically developed to provide CEU credits for early childhood educators and professionals.
Evidence: Link to the presentation*.
Evidence of continuing preparation and study
In my time at MSU, I have attended conferences to increase my knowledge of current trends, ideas, and research on the value of play. Professional meetings provided me wit opportunities to interact with and build collaborative working relationships with colleagues. Through these conferences, I have continued to enhance my professional skills by taking advantage of the opportunities for advancement on campus, and make connections with Family Consumer Science educators in the state. I am passionate about promoting and encouraging play in the lives of children and adults, families and communities.
The lack of play time that children have today is considerably less and for children as little as 10 ago, and we are seeing the outcomes of this reduced play time in our young people in the form of increased rate of anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. Due to this passion, I created the Midwest Play Conference and held the event June 25, 2016*. The Midwest play conference was attended by 125 people and included attendee’s from the previously mentioned states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Michigan. Not only did the Midwest Play Conference bring together people from all corners of the Midwest, we were able to have discussions about the state of play and also to learn from one another about ways to engage parents, community members, and of course children, in developmental appropriate play opportunities. Attendees chose from topics and workshops during three educational sessions. The topics that presenters chose from were as diverse as our attendees, for example, ways to create cost-effective inclusive outdoor environments, discussions about risky play and roughhousing, and ways to create playful staff meetings.
Other professional opportunities that I have taken advantage include.
Conferences to Support Play
The US Play Coalition Value of Play Conference has changed my personal and professional life from the first time I attended the conference in 2009. I been a member of the organization for 10 years, and attended the conference every year since 2010.
Conferences in Family Consumer Science
Department of Family Consumer Science, FACS to the Max Workshop and MN Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Conference are organizations that I have had the great please to assist. Dr. Jill Conlon established FACS to the Max, and I have had the great pleasure to serve the department and present information about various topics to FACS teachers. Additionally, I have supported the larger state of Minnesota FACS community at their state conference.
Development of Excellence in Teaching & Learning
I am proud of the professional development opportunities that I've taken advantage of through training and certificate programs taught by staff and faculty at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Additionally, I have led and participated in sessions for Professional Development Days. Here is a non-comprehensive list of professional development training I have completed over the last 11 years.
Professional Development Days (Evidence)
CETL Certificate Programs (Evidence)
Midwest Play Conference
The 1st US Play Coalition: Midwest Play Conference took place in Mankato Minnesota on June 25 in the Centennial Student Union, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. The conference was attended by 125 people, which included 22 presenters. Below are the actions that were taken, beginning January 2016, to plan and implement the Midwest Play Conference.
2016 - Midwest Play Conference FB Event
2017 - Midwest Play Workshop Loose Parts Play FB Event
Dr. Von Bank's Professional Development Map
Contribution to student growth and development
A large part of any professor’s responsibility is to promote student growth and development. In all of my interactions with students, I strive to be a role model to uphold high academic standards, promote a professional work environment, and treat my students with respect. I have contributed to student growth and development by advising and mentoring students who major or minor in the Child Development Family Studies area, overseeing student internships, writing letter of recommendation, advising the Child Development Family Studies Club, serving as faculty mentor for a McNair scholar student, and overseeing student research projects.
Child Development Family Studies Club - RSO
One of my greatest joys as a professor in the Family Consumer Science department has been to support students’ efforts to create the Child Development and Family Studies Club. This recognized student organization on campus was developed in collaboration with students during my first semester at MSU. The students were the driving force behind this club and I am proud to have assisted the group’s process to be organized. The group has been very active in the community, and has a record of volunteering with many community organizations. (Evidence of Student Events)
Advising & Mentoring
Contributing to student growth and development includes assisting students to develop critical thinking skills. I advise students who major or minor in the Child Development Family Studies program. I have held both one-on-one individual advising meetings and also group advising sessions with the entire FCS department. I created pamphlets that would assist students in answering the question that I hear most often in advising sessions, “What can I do with a degree in Child Development Family Studies?” I have gained valuable experiences in advising students with their coursework. I hope to encourage students to think about their choice of classes in the major, minor or general education area. In talking with students during our advising session it develops rapport, making it more likely that they could approach me if they are falling behind in class. Another part of contributing to student growth is assisting with their transition to the post-graduate world. I have written letters of recommendation for students’ entry into graduate school, for scholarship applications, and to obtain jobs in the “real world.” I consider it an honor when a student asks me for a letter of recommendation. Not only does the student value my opinion of their performance but they also entrust me to represent the achievements in a concise and descriptive manner. I take this responsibility seriously and I work closely with the student to understand their future goals.
I have had the privilege to work with over 20 undergraduate students research projects. I worked with a McNair Scholar student on a research project to understand family member's who raise their relatives children, in addition to student who wanted to study parents of picky eaters, sign language in preschools, the impact of a chronic disease on a family system, young adults views of boredom, children's understanding of STEAM (science technology engineering arts math) in a museum setting, and parents perspectives on play. I have advised on Master's thesis committees, and two Doctoral Thesis committees.
Evidence - Link to Cornerstone Collection of Scholarly Work
2015. Committee Member for Katlyn Ann Grover, Department of Psychology Title: A Validation of the Family Involvement Questionnaire-High School Version” Dissertation
evidence of Student Advising and Mentoring
Service to the university and community
I most proud of the contributions I have been able to make to my professional community, university, college, department and local community. Being the department chair has kept my schedule full for the last three years; leading monthly faculty meetings, attending leadership team meetings, contributing ideas at the monthly chair and program breakfast, and arranging class schedules has provided me with a wealth of leadership experience and opportunities. My professional experiences have grown significantly in the years, and I continue to be involved at the college level. My personal and professional growth as faculty, chair, research collaborator, expert in the field of play and advocate for children and families.
Professional and Community service. I have provided services to the community through presentations and volunteer work. Early in my career, I talked about “Brain Development in Infancy and Early Childhood” to AmeriCorp volunteers. More recently, I have worked closely with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota and spoke about the benefits of the museum in a video created for fundraising and general awareness about the museum, I have attended many of their promotional events, and I'm now on the Board of Directors. I am also a member of the national American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Minnesota chapter. I have assisted with fundraising event for student scholarships with Delta Kappa Gamma, an organization for women educators. I volunteered with the Girl Scouts of Southern Minnesota and was honored to be nominated for a Woman of Distinction award. In 2018, I was asked to serve on the steering committee for the the US Play Coalition.
University service. My service to the university began with my acceptance as a member of the Associate Graduate Faculty and participation in commencement ceremonies and has evolved into working with the Undergraduate Research Council. My involvement with the council involved reviewing undergraduate research grant proposals, serving as a judge for the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and review for the Undergraduate Research Journal as published by MSU-Mankato. In 2015, I coordinated the Undergraduate Research Symposium. I have served on the Service Learning Advisory Board (2009 – 2010), and in in 2012, I served on a Faculty Association Representative for the College of Allied Health and Nursing, the Assessment & Evaluation Committee. I have also talked with incoming parents and students for new student orientation panel discussions, and continue to attend commencement.
College of Allied Health & Nursing service. As service to the College of Allied Health and Nursing, I have served on three committees: Curriculum, Planning, and Diversity. With the Curriculum Committee, I read curriculum proposals, met with committee members to discuss changes to the proposals, and following-up with amended proposals. I also served on the Planning Committee for three years and co-chaired the committee for two years. As the chairperson for the Diversity committee, we created brown bag seminars focusing on disability as diversity and a panel for the 2012 Professional Development Day, which brought together students with disabilities to speak about their experiences on campus. I continue to serve as a faculty mentor during transfer student orientations, and new student orientations.
Department service. I began my work at MSU-Mankato by updating the curriculum in the Child Development Family Studies area and renaming the program from Family Life and Child Development to the current title to improve the program’s visibility. I also serve as the liaison for curriculum related issues and developed a pamphlet to describe the CDFS major and the careers students can choose with the major. I continue to review scholarship applications and served regularly on search committees for positions in Consumerism, Child Development Family Studies, and Dietetics. I created the Family Consumer Science Facebook page. During my time as the department chair, I worked with a local media company to create two videos to promote the FCS department, and headed a department wide effort to celebrate 70 years of the Department of Family Consumer Science with a community reception.
College of Allied Health & Nursing
Service Projects with students