My research centers on using careful measurement in field-based research both to understand how people can overcome adversity to succeed and how to promote prosocial development.

The courses I teach also address gaining knowledge through science and experimentation—in education and psychology. In my courses, I also seek to include diverse perspectives to create a rich and accessible learning environment.


Ph.D. in Psychometrics and Experimental Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington

M.S. in Experimental Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington

B.S. in Biopsychology, Juniata College

Scholarship / Publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Samuels, W. E. (2018). Nurturing kindness naturally: A humane education program’s effect on the prosocial behavior of first and second graders across China. International Journal of Educational Research, 91, 49 – 64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2018.08.001.

Hagerty, T. A., Samuels, W., Norcini-Pala, A., & Gigliotti, E. (2017). Peplau’s theory of interpersonal relations: An alternate factor structure for patient experience data? Nursing Science Quarterly, 30(2), 160 – 167. doi: 10.1177/0894318417693286

Samuels, W. E., Meers, L., Normando, S. (2016). Improving upper elementary students’ humane attitudes and prosocial behaviors through an in-class humane education program. Anthrozoös, 29(4), 597 – 610. doi: 10.1080/08927936.2016.1228751

Tournaki, N. & Samuels, W. E. (2016). Do graduate teacher education programs change teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion and efficacy beliefs? Action in Teacher Education, 38(4), 384 – 398. doi: 10.1080/01626620.2016.1226200.

Samuels, W. E., Tournaki, N., Blackman, S., & Zilinski, C. (2016). Executive functioning predicts academic achievement in middle school: A 4-year longitudinal study. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(5), 478 – 490. doi: 10.1080/00220671.2014.979913.

Gigliotti, E., Samuels, W. E., Cuomo, J., Gamidova, T., Gordon, B., & Acerios, P. (2014). Identifying and addressing sources of error in the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 22(3), 61E – 76E. doi: 10.1891/1061-3749.22.3.E61.

Bernstein, I., Samuels, E., Woo, A., & Hagge, S. (2013). Assessing DIF among small samples with separate calibration t and Mantel-Haenszel χ² statistics in the Rasch model. Journal of Applied Measurement, 14(4), 389 – 399. PMID: 24064579.

Meers, L., Martin, S., Samuels, W. E., Ödberg, F. O. & Normando, S. (2013). A survey of equine-assisted intervention programs and welfare implications in the Veneto region (Italy). Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(2), e1 – e25. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2012.12.036.

Normando, S., Meers, L., Samuels, W. E., Faustini, M., & Ödberg, F. O. (2011). Variables affecting the prevalence of behavioural problems in horses: Can riding style and other management factors be significant? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133, 186 – 196. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.06.012

  • The tenth most downloaded peer-reviewed article (from among over 2,000 articles) in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science category, July to Sept., 2011 (ScienceDirect).

Gigliotti, E. & Samuels, W. E. (2011). Use of averaged Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire scores. International Scholarly Research Network: Nursing, Article ID 567280, 6 pages, 2011. doi: 10.5402/2011/567280.

Meers, L., Colman, I., Stefanini, C., Haverbeke, A., Normando, S., Samuels, W. E., & Ödberg, F. (2011). Dog regulation in East-Flanders, Belgium. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 6(1), 92 – 93. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2010.08.022

Normando, S., Meers, L., Salvadorettie, M., Trevisan, C., Samuels, W. E. & Ödberg, F. O. (2010). Equine-assisted intervention programs in Veneto (Italy). Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1), 47 – 48. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2009.09.030

Moons, C., Meers, L., Stefanini, C., Normando, S., Van de Leest, L., Samuels, W. E., & Ödberg, F. O. (2009). Review: Relevance of stimuli used in canine behavioural testing with regards to proximal causality of dog bites. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1), 61. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2009.09.004

Meers, L., Stefanini, C., D’hanens, S., Normando, S., Samuels, W. E., Kalmar, I., & Ödberg, F. O. (2009). Is it wise to involve animals in prisons and rehabilitation programs? A study conducted in Flanders, Belgium. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1), 50. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2009.09.023

Pira, T., Stefanini, C., Meers, L., Normando, S., Samuels, W. E., & Ödberg, F. O. (2009). A conceptual study about animal-assisted interventions (AAI) in Antwerp, Belgium. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1), 49 – 50. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2009.09.024

Nicoll, K., Trifone, C., & Samuels, W. E. (2008). An in-class, humane education program can improve young students’ attitudes towards animals. Society and Animals, 16, 45 – 60. doi: 10.1163/156853008X269881.

Samuels, W. E. & Reinhartz, J. (2000). Teen voices: Insight for fostering prosocial behaviors in school. Teacher Educators’ Journal, 10(1), 11 – 27.


Additional Scholarship

Others elements of my scholarship are listed in my curriculm vitæ


Executive Functioning and Resilience

Longitudinal investigation of overcoming adversity among adolescent students.

In close collaboration with a New York City-based charter school, my colleagues and I are investigating the roles of executive functioning, persistence, and other similar factors that allow disadvantage adolescents to succeed academically. We are also using these data to advise the school and establish the best investment of our limited resources to most efficiently capitalize on this excellent opportunity to study the long-term interplay between protective factors and various intervention strategies among a large, diverse group of students.  It is rare to be able to conduct such in-depth and large-scale longitudinal studies in the field, and we are excited about the insights we are finding—and the effect we hope they have on improving lives.


Humane Education, Caring-for-Life Education, and Animal-Assisted Activities

Humane Education

“Humane education”—also called “caring-for-life education”—is a widely-used but poorly-studied area of education. It uses animals and nature to provide rich learning experiences that seek to engender care and helping behaviors toward not only animals (and nature) but also to other people.

In collaboration with ACTAsia, a non-profit organization active in the Far East, this series of evaluations assesses the effect of an integrated humane education lesson module on elementary students’ attitudes about animal welfare issues. We are also investigating the effects of these interventions on students’ psycho-social development, a very under-studied area of humane (and character) education.


Animal-Assisted Activities

This is an exciting series of both clinical and research projects primarily centering around establishing a strong theoretical foundation for Animal-Assisted Interventions so that this diverse and quickly-growing field can develop in an organized way


Modern (IRT) and Traditional Psychometrics

My colleagues and I are using real and simulated data to find better estimates of the ability of test takers (often called θ) who are near lower cut-off scores. Better estimation would allow quicker and more accurate judgments to be made about whether a test taker does indeed pass a test or not. Results should also help determine how confident we can be about our judgments under these conditions.