Nikhit D'Sa


Nikhit D’Sa, Ph.D. is an applied researcher who has spent his career aiming to build equitable and respectful research-practice partnerships to conduct rigorous and meaningful studies in low-resource, conflict-affected, and fragile settings. Through collaborative efforts, D’Sa has worked on partnerships that are grounded in an improvement science focus on iterative implementation and learning. He uses a mix of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches to help practitioners and policymakers make evidence-based decisions about interventions to benefit children.

Trained as a developmental psychologist, D’Sa studies how the relationships and settings around children can be better leveraged to support their learning and development. He is interested in identifying modifiable patterns and routines within settings and systems that can be directly targeted through practitioner-led interventions. His recent research has focused on how we can better align child development messages across home-school-community, cost-effectively incorporate education technology in the classroom, and systematize social and emotional learning (SEL) approaches across the school. He previously served as the principal investigator on studies focused on early childhood development, positive youth development, and learning in contexts of forced displacement.

To better support the work of practitioners and policymakers in the majority world, D’Sa has pioneered a focus on practical measurement; he is an internationally recognized expert on how to better incorporate the lived experience of children, caregivers, and teachers into the development of context-specific assessments and interventions. 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). More recently, he has focused on the development of game-based measures of children’s SEL, formative assessments of teacher pedagogy, and teacher-directed measures of occupational well-being.

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.

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Nikhit D'Sa