Thomas W. Farmer
Department Chairperson

Professor and Chair
Department of Health and Human Development

Dr. Tom Farmer is a special educator and developmental scientist. His research and teaching focuses on understanding the person-in-context and clarifying how experiences, opportunities, and developmental pathways of youth reflect the interplay of both proximal (e.g., family, peer, community) and distal factors (e.g., socio-political, geographic, economic). He is particularly interested in how teachers differentially contribute to students’ social experiences and patterns of school adjustment. He is also interested in data-driven approaches for leveraging natural developmental processes to support the creation and tailoring of evidence-based interventions for specific youth, classrooms, schools, and communities.

Instructional Interests

  • Child and Adolescent Development
  • Evidence-Based Interventions
  • Interventions and Supports for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Scholarly Interests

  • Culturally, Developmentally, and Ecologically Responsive Practice in Schools
  • Classroom and Social Dynamics Management
  • Tiered-Systems of Adaptive Supports
  • Research Practice Partnerships in Rural School and Community Settings
  • Developmental Cascades and Correlated Constraints Perspectives of Intervention
  • Prevention and Intervention for Bullying and Peer Victimization in Schools
  • The Role of Teachers in Children’s Social Development

Selected Grants

  • Principal Investigator. “Supporting Early Adolescent Learning and Social Success across the Middle School Years: The SEALS II Intervention Development Program.” Institute of Education Sciences ($1,497,389).

  • Principal Investigator. "Supporting Early Adolescent Learning and Social Success - Project SEALS." Institute of Education Sciences ($3,952,267).

  • Principal Investigator. "Aspirations and Preparation for the Transition from High School in Rural America.” Institute of Education Sciences ($3,200,000).

Featured Publications

  • Farmer, T. W., Bierman, K. L., Hall, C. M., Brooks, D. S., & Lee, D. L. (2021). Tiered systems of adaptive supports and the individualization of intervention: Merging developmental cascades and correlated constraints perspectives. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 29.

  • Chen, C-C., Farmer, T. W., Hamm, J. V., Brooks, D. S., Lee. D. L., Norwalk, K., Lambert, K., Dawes, M., Sterrett, B., & Rizzo, K. (2020). Emotional and behavioral risk configurations, students with disabilities, and perceptions of the middle school ecology. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 28, 180-192.

  • Dawes, M., Farmer, T. W., Hamm, J. V., Lee, D., Norwalk, K., Sterrett, B., & Lambert, K. (2020). Creating supportive contexts during the first year of middle school: Impact of a developmentally responsive multi-component intervention. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49, 1447-1463.

  • Farmer, T. W. (2020). Reforming research to support culturally and ecologically responsive and developmentally meaningful practice in schools. Educational Psychologist, 55, 32-39.

  • Farmer, T. W., Hamm, J. V., Dawes, M., Barko-Alva, K., & Cross, J. R. (2019). Promoting inclusive communities in diverse classrooms: Teacher attunement and social dynamics management. Educational Psychologist, 54, 286-305.

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

  • Consortium member of the Middle School Success: The Path to Graduation (P2G) program, of The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).

  • Past president of the Division for Research of the Council for Exceptional Children

  • Co-editor, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Thomas W. Farmer


University of Pittsburgh
5125 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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