Tom Akiva
EdD Program Director

Associate Professor and Director of Schoolwide EdD
Department of Health and Human Development

Dr. Tom Akiva is an Associate Professor in the department of Health & Human Development and Director of the Schoolwide EdD program. He received his PhD in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan in 2012. Prior to this, Akiva spent nearly two decades working as a practitioner and consultant in the youth development field. He publishes research about continuous improvement and professional learning, youth program features, social emotional skills, equity in out-of-school learning, and citywide ecosystem approaches to learning and development.

Check out his 2022 co-edited book, It Takes an Ecosystem: Understanding the People, Places, and Possibilities of Learning and Development Across Settings.

Instructional Interests

Dr. Akiva teaches in the EdD program and in the Applied Developmental Psychology Master's program.

Courses have included:

  • Foundations 1: Framing Identifying, and Investigating Problems of Practice
  • Practitioner Inquiry 1: The Science of Improvement
  • Youth Development in Out-of-School Settings
  • Applied Developmental Psychology Professional Seminar I, II
  • Development - Middle Childhood through Adolescence

Scholarly Interests

Dr. Akiva's research focuses on understanding and improving out-of-school learning (OSL) program experiences for children and youth. His team increasingly focuses on city-wide approaches to building equitable learning and development ecosystems. Their applied projects address youth-adult relationships, innovation, and equity.

Current active projects include a Transformative Evaluation of Creative Learning in Pittsburgh; ongoing study of the Simple Interactions professional development approach in youth programs, libraries, and museums; a research and evaluation project with Generator-Z, and a multi-year research-practice partnership with the Remake Learning Network.

Selected Grants

  • Creative Learning: Transformative Evaluation, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2019-2022, $450,000

  • Modeling the Creative Learning ecosystem in Pittsburgh, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2019, $49,500

  • Simple Interactions 3.0, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, PI, 2018-2020, $200,000 ($80,000 Grable, $120,000 Heinz)

  • Remake Making: Understanding Adoption and Adaptation of Facilitated Making in Libraries, National Science Foundation: Advancing Informal STEM Learning, PI, 2017-2019, $299,495

Featured Publications

  • Akiva, T., White, A. M., Colvin, S., DeMand, A., & Page, L. C. (2020). Simple Interactions: A randomized controlled trial of relational training for adults who work with young people across settings, Applied Developmental Science.

  • Carey, R., Akiva, T., Abdel-Latif, H., & Daughtry, K. (2020). ‘And school won’t teach me that!’ Urban youth activism programs as transformative sites for critical adolescent learning. Journal of Youth Studies.

  • Akiva, T., Delale-O’Connor, L., & Pittman, K. J. (2020). The promise of building equitable learning ecosystems in urban environments. Urban Education.

  • Horner, C., & Akiva, T. (2019). ‘You never know who’s looking at your page!’: African American male adolescents’ perceptions of emotional display rules online. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 30 (S2), 315-332.

  • McNamara, A., Akiva, T., Delale-O’Conner, L. (2018). Opportunity gaps in out-of-school learning: How structural and process features of programs relate to race and socioeconomic status. Applied Developmental Science, 24 (4), 360-375.

Awards and Honors

  • Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing from the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, April 2020

  • Scholar Award from the Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, April 2016

  • Stanley E. and Ruth B. Dimond Outstanding Dissertation Award, University of Michigan, April 2013

  • Emerging Scholar in Out-of-School Time Research from the Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, April 2011

Engagements, Partnerships, and Professional Service

Tom Akiva


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

View CV