Dr. Nikhit D'Sa

Assistant Professor and Senior Associate Director for Research
Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Nikhit D’Sa is a developmental psychologist with over a decade of experience as an education technical advisor and applied researcher in low-resource and fragile settings. He has been the principal investigator on studies of early childhood development, social and emotional wellbeing, positive youth development, and learning in contexts of forced displacement. Dr. D’Sa has led the design and validation of two globally used assessments: the International Social and Emotional Learning Assessment (ISELA) and the Holistic Assessment of Learning and Development Outcomes (HALDO). He has also developed an online module on Practical Measurement: measurement that is focused on the needs of practitioners working with limited time and resources in low-resource and fragile contexts. His current research has two overarching foci. First, he focuses on how we can better incorporate the lived experience of children, caregivers, and teachers into the development of context-specific assessments, including measures of social and emotional learning, teacher well-being, and children’s perspectives of play. Second, he focuses on how the settings around children can be better leveraged to support their learning and development, including aligning child development messages across the home-school-community, incorporating education technology in the classroom, and systematizing social and emotional learning approaches. Dr. D’Sa holds a Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University as well as a Master of Education in International Education Policy and a Doctor of Education in Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has been the recipient of a Watson Fellowship, Davis Projects for Peace fellowship, and Spencer New Civics award.