Thomas Akiva
Faculty - EdD Coordinator

My research focuses on understanding and improving out-of-school learning (OSL) program experiences for children and youth. My team investigates child and youth program processes at multiple levels, with studies about program practices, staff professional development, and cross-program networks. This research is designed to uncover practical findings to support adults who work with youth in program settings. Our projects focus on youth-adult relationships, innovation, and equity. This research takes place in three strands:

  1. Understanding youth programs and their features
  2. Professional development for youth workers
  3. Building equitable systems for cross-setting learning

You can read about our research on p. 8 of the Fall 2015 School of Education newsletter.

Current active projects include:

School Affiliations

Recent Grants

Creative learning: Transformative evaluation, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2019-2022, $450,000.
Remake making: Understanding adoption and adaptation of facilitated making in libraries, National Science Foundation: Advancing Informal STEM Learning, PI, 2017-2019, $299,495.
Modeling the Creative Learning ecosystem in Pittsburgh, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2019, $49,500.
Out-of-School Learning in Urban and Disrupted Suburban Areas, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2017-2018, $35,000 ($17,500 Grable, $17,500 Heinz Endowments).
Evaluation of the Pittsburgh Youth Organizing for School Change Program, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2014-2017, $555,000.
Simple Interactions 2.0, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2015-2017, $280,000.

Recent Publications

Akiva, T., Delale-O'Connor, L., & Pittman, K. J. (2020). The promise of building equitable ecosystems for learning. Urban Education.
Akiva, T., *Carey, R. L., Cross, A. B., Delale-O'Connor, L., & Brown, M. R. (2017). Reasons youth engage in activism programs: Social justice or sanctuary? Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 53, 20-30.
White, A., *DeMand, A., *McGovern, G., & Akiva, T. (2020). Understanding youth worker job stress: The relative contributions from home, supervisors, and staffing climate. Journal of Youth Development, 15 (1), 47-69.
Bowler, L., Akiva, T., *Colvin, S., & *McNamara, A. (2019). Facilitation in library makerspaces: A prototype for a professional development model. In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019. Information Research, 24(4), paper colis1937. Retrieved from
Wilson, C., Akiva, T., Sibthorp, J., & Browne, L. (2019). Fostering distinct and transferable learning via summer camp. Children and Youth Services Review, 98, 269-277.
Thomas Akiva


University of Pittsburgh
5938 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260