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. I also collaborate to apply my knowledge of experimental methods and statistics to a range of social and health science endeavors.

In my courses, I strive to include diverse perspectives to create rich and inviting learning environments so that students can develop understanding through critical reflection and the scientific method.


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

Executive Functioning & Development

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.

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


Animal-Assisted Education & Interventions

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.

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

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).

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.


Statistics & Methods

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

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.

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.

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.

Reinhartz, J. & Samuels, W. E. (2001). Mining Texas style: A seamless transition—or is it? Forum of the Association for Arid Lands Studies, 17(1), 28 – 35.


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 Middle and Far East, this series of evaluations assesses the effect of an integrated humane education lesson module on elementary students’ attitudes about environemtnal social, and animal welfare issues. We are also investigating the effects of these interventions on students’ psycho-social development, finding some of the first good evidence for these programs' abilities to improve children’s prosocial behaviors.


Animal-Assisted Activities

Including both clinical and field-based research projects (in schools, zoos, animal-sancutaries, and communities), this area primarily centers around establishing a strong theoretical foundation for Animal-Assisted Interventions so that this diverse and quickly-growing field can develop in an organized way. My colleagues have done an excellent job of bridging the often-wide gaps between the field’s researchers and practitioners to ensure safety; planful program creation and implementation; and valid, informative inquiry. Not surprisingly then, subsumed under our efforts are also evaluations of programs both in terms of their efficacy and their ability to maintain the welfare of all involved—especially for the animals employed.


Collaborations and Consultations

In addition to the main lines of research noted just above, I also work with several colleagues on a range of other, social & medical science projects. My contributions to these projects center on designing field-based studies that maintain high scientific standards and conducting statistical analyses that adhere to the best and most-current recommendations of statistics and psychometrics.

These projects have included, e.g., community and mental health research, sociological studies, nursing research, instrument design & testing, educational research, and language use. Although a minority of these projects have led to publications on which I am a co-author, my goals here are rarely for that: I see this as one of the responsibilities I have to help guide and advance science and understanding.