Marline Pearson is the recently retired chair of the sociology department at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin, where she has been teaching for over 25 years. Her teaching foci at the college were Criminology, Marriage and Family, and Relationship Skills. Ms. Pearson’s longstanding concern for high-risk kids and families, combined with her focus on prevention, led to her interest in relationship building. In addition to sociology classes, Ms. Pearson has pioneered a unique relationship skills class as part of a student success initiative.
Ms. Pearson’s curriculum, Relationship Smarts PLUS (RQ+), was the subject of a rigorous, large-scale, five-year evaluation conducted by researchers at Auburn University in Alabama, involving over 5,000 diverse teenagers. Ms. Pearson also developed an adaptation of RQ+ for vulnerable older teens and young adults, Love Notes: Relationship Skills for Love, Life, and Work. Love Notes has been added to list of teen pregnancy prevention Evidence Based Programs (EBP) maintained by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Love Notes was included based on statistically significant decreases in sexual activity, increases in contraceptive use, and avoidance of pregnancy.
Ms. Pearson is also co-author with Scott Stanley and Galena Kline Rhoades of Within My Reach, a nationally recognized relationship skills and decision-making program for helping individuals — primarily single mothers and fathers who struggle with economic hardship—achieve their goals in relationships, family, and marriage.
Additionally, Ms. Pearson co-authored, with Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Making a Love Connection: Teen Relationships, Pregnancy, and Marriage, a report commissioned and published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; authored “Can Kids Get Smart About Marriage: A Veteran Teacher Reviews Some of the Leading Relationship and Marriage Programs,” published by the National Marriage Project (formerly of Rutgers University), and “Reaching for Higher Ground: New Approaches to Teen Sexuality,” published in the Journal of Council on Family Relations. Her classes have been featured in numerous national media, including TIME Magazine, a PBS special, and a companion book.
Ms. Pearson is frequently called upon to discuss teen and young adult relationships and has conducted numerous trainings on this topic, as well as sexuality and marriage skills. Long active in educational improvement, Ms. Pearson created and taught The Critical Literacy Project, an active learning and teaching improvement program at her college for a number of years.
She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and two young adult daughters. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.