Dr. Steven John Holochwost | Principal and Director of Research for Youth & Families

Steven Holochwost Headshot

Why it is important to do research with children and families in the naturalistic contexts in which they live and learn? In his 1979 book, The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design, Urie Bronfenbrenner might have said it best: “much of developmental psychology, as it now exists, is the science of the strange behavior of children in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest possible periods of time”.

Dr. Steven John Holochwost is Principal and Director of Research for Youth & Families at WolfBrown. His programs are designed to improve the lives of vulnerable children and youth. He holds appointments at Johns Hopkins University’s Science of Learning Institute and the Curtis Institute of Music. His research focuses on the effects of environment, and particularly poverty and parenting, on voluntary forms of self-regulation (e.g., executive functions) in childhood and the involuntary activity of neurophysiological systems that support self-regulatory abilities. This research is directly relevant to his applied work at WolfBrown, which examines the efficacy of educational interventions for children in poverty. The common thread running through both these lines of work is the need to understand how poverty impacts child development—and how programs that expand educational opportunities for children can mitigate those effects

Since joining WolfBrown, Dr. Holochwost has served as Principal Investigator or Co-principal Investigator on many studies that assess the impacts of arts education programs on under-served children and youth. These studies have addressed how instrumental music education can foster basic cognitive skills among children in poverty, how choral participation can change the ways incarcerated adolescents perceive their peers, and how theater residencies can improve social skills among school students who are routinely exposed to traumatic events. His areas of specialization include the use of mixed quantitative and qualitative methods and the application of advanced analytics to longitudinal data. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for Arts, the US Department of Education, and the William Penn, Mellon, Arnold, and Buck Family Foundations.

Over the past ten years, Dr. Holochwost has worked in government, academia, and private research firms. Before joining WolfBrown, Dr. Holochwost was Associate Director of Research at the Early Learning Center and, prior to that, Senior Assistant Child Advocate with the Office of the Child Advocate for the State of New Jersey. He earned his PhD in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as a National Science Foundation Fellow and a master’s degree in public affairs from the Fels Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

Steven can be reached directly via email.

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