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Howard, Steven J. A/Prof

Associate Professor

  • Associate Professor - School of Education
  • Associate Professor - School of Psychology (Adjunct)
  • Head of Postgraduate Studies - School of Education
  • Early Start Research

Overview


A/Prof Steven Howard is a researcher at Early Start and Associate Professor in Educational Psychology in the School of Education at University of Wollongong. After completing his MA and PhD in Developmental Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, he commenced an academic appointment at University of Wollongong in 2012. He is also an Adjunct in the School of Psychology.

A/Prof Howard's program of research focuses on how to easily, accurately and playfully pinpoint children’s progress and needs in foundational areas of development (e.g., self-regulation), and leverage that information to support children’s continued development. This has culminated in creation of the Early Years Toolbox, which is in use in educational and research contexts internationally. He has also been involved in ground-breaking studies that seek to identify effective, low- to no-cost and authentic opportunities for those who spend the majority of time with young children (i.e., educators, parents) to support their children’s ongoing development. This includes the Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study to evaluate effects of high-quality professional development on educators’ practice and children’s outcomes, and Early Start to Self-Regulation study to evaluate every day, low-cost ways for educators to support children’s self-regulation in pre-school contexts.

He has published over 50 peer-reviewed research articles and 7 books/chapters, has led or been part of teams that have secured over $40M in research funding (e.g., ARC DECRA, ARC Centre of Excellence, NHMRC Project Grant, competitive Government tender), and is internationally recognised as an expert on self-regulatory and executive processes in children.

His current h-index (@ 01/03/2020) is:

His contributions to practice include co-creation of the internationally adopted Early Years Toolbox to assess children's cognitive, social, self-regulatory, numeracy and language development (currently in use in 5 continents, in research and educational contexts). He has also created 4 children's books with embedded cognitive activities as a low-cost, evidence-based means for parents and educators to engage and enhance young children's self-regulation (i.e., Quincey Quokka's Quest; I Don't Miss the Shopping List; Polly and her Lolly; The Pear that Wasn't There).

As of 2020, he has 12 current PhD students in varied stages of completion and 10 PhD completions.

Top Publications


Available as Research Supervisor

Available for Collaborative Projects

Member Of


Selected Publications


Investigator On


Other Research Activities


Impact Story


  • <p>This line of research focuses on how to easily, accurately and playfully pinpoint young children’s progress and needs in foundational areas of development (e.g., self-regulation), and leverage this information to support children’s continued development. This culminated in creation of the iPad-based <em>Early Years Toolbox</em> (www.eytoolbox.com.au), which is in use in educational and research contexts internationally.</p><p>The EYT approach to early assessment has instigated a shift away from the concentration of expertise and tools among a limited base of professionals, to instead empower those who spend the most time with young children (e.g., educators) and have the greatest opportunity to shift children’s trajectories. Specifically, our research has shown that EYT tools yield valid, reliable, sensitive and actionable information when used by pre-school educators after only a brief induction. For children, these feel like playful activities. For educators, they provide immediate and high-quality information about each child’s abilities and needs, to inform ongoing planning and practice. The EYT philosophy of barrier-free access for all who could benefit (available on the iTunes App Store) contrasts often expensive and time-consuming commercial tools.</p><p>EYT assessments have now been accessed by >11,000 users across more than 50 countries and 5 continents, and have been translated into more than a dozen languages (in collaboration with requesting institutions around the world). EYT has been used with more than 12,000 children in Australia, and greater numbers abroad, with mounting international evidence of its positive impact for educators, children and families.<br /><br /><strong>UOW Participants: </strong>A/Prof Steven Howard, Prof Ted Melhuish, A/Prof Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Prof Marc de Rosnay<br /><br /><strong>Partner Organisations:</strong> Early Start, Our Place (Victoria), Goodstart Early Learning</p>
  • The Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study involves partnerships with educators, early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres and government education departments to advance educational practice.<br /><br />FEEL is a cluster randomised controlled trial investigating the efficacy of an in-service, evidence-based professional development program for improving early childhood educators' practice, and developmental outcomes of children. It arose from a competitive tender process initiated by the NSW Department of Education and Training, awarded to UOW Early Start researchers in 2015.<br /><br />The research team recruited 90 ECEC services to be involved, half of which were randomly selected to receive the professional development program in the evaluation year, and half of which were assigned as the control group, to then receive the training following the evaluation year. Early results show children in the centres receiving the program are experiencing heightened curricular and interactional quality, with some positive effects for children's developmental progress as well (despite a relatively constrained intervention period).<br /><br />“In addition, our qualitative process analyses suggest that participants often saw the professional development program as ‘very high quality’, ‘transformative’ and ‘reaffirming’,” according to one of the research leaders, Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett.<br /><br />The ongoing potential of the FEEL study is significant for improving quality in Australian ECEC within the current workforce, by working to enhance educators' practices through intensive in-service professional development. Further longitudinal components to assess children’s school readiness have already been initiated and there is future potential to link the data through to NAPLAN years.<br /><br /><strong>UOW participants:</strong> Professor Iram Siraj, Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Dr Steven Howard, Professor Ted Melhuish, Professor Marc de Rosnay, Dr Elisabeth Duursma, Dr Xiaoqi Feng, Dr Betty Luu<br /><br /><strong>Partners:</strong> NSW Department of Education, Early Childhood Education Centres across NSW, Dr Denise Kingston (University of Sussex)

Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Available to supervise research topics related to self-regulation (and/or related abilities) in the early years or assessment in the early years.

Teaching Activities


Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Rethinking Block Play: The Development of the Numeracy and Mathematics Assessment (NUMBBA) for preschool aged children Grimmond, Joanne
    Doctor of Philosophy An Early Start to Self-Reguation Vasseleu, Elena
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Perceptions and Experiences of Educational Leadership in Early Childhood Contexts Stouse-Lee, Kim
    Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology) Early childhood social and emotional foundations of self-regulation in two cultures Gan, heather
    Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology) Early Cognitive Control in the Context of Atypical Development Varcoe, Stephanie
    Doctor of Philosophy Digital technologies and pre-schoolers: Enhancing learning and development through quality parent-child interactions Lewis, Kate
    Doctor of Philosophy The effects of guidance in play-based activities on the development of children's cognition and communication Day, Natalie
    Doctor of Philosophy Promoting Children's Executive Functions through a Professional Development Program for Pre-school Educators. Muir, Rosalyn
    Doctor of Philosophy Test Anxiety- prevalence, correlates, physiological measures, and intervention in a school setting. Robson, Davina
    Doctor of Philosophy Evaluation of a Program to Support High Achieving and Gifted Students in an Independent School in New South Wales Szimhart, Nadia
    Doctor of Philosophy Marking in a Standard-Referenced Framework Radford, Olivia
    Doctor of Philosophy when are we guessing? An investigation of the impact on the validity of results associated with the presence of guessing in the assessment of students in large scale assessments programs Freeman, Christopher

Outreach Overview


  • Community:

    • My research has been publicized by the Illawarra Mercury, WIN News, ABC News, ABC Radio, and more.
    • Led conceptualisation and development of the Early Years Toolbox. These tools have been downloaded more than 9,500 times from the iTunes App Store, across five continents.
    • Developed the PRSIST Program as a low- to no-cost way for parents and educators to support development of children's self-regulation (in contrast to popular brain-training approaches).
    • Developed four children's books that, in addition to a rhyming picture book, also integrate activities to promote children's self-regulation and related abilities.

    Professional:

    • Reviewer for Australian Research Council since 2017, providing assessment of submitted DECRA grant proposals.
    • Editorial Board Member of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, a Q1 journal in early years development.
    • Regularly review research articles for leading international journals in my area: e.g. Child Development; Cognition & Development; Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Educational Psychology Review; Acta Psychologica; British Journal of Educational Technology; Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.  
    • Invited Participant and Invited Chair of symposia at international conferences.

Education And Training


  • Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2009 - 2013
  • M.A. in Developmental Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2007 - 2009
  • B.A. in Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2000 - 2007

Awards And Honors


Teaching Overview


  • I have been teaching (subject coordinator, lecturer and tutor) in the areas of Educational Psychology and Research Methods since 2011, and lecturer and tutor in Psychology Foundations and Statistical/Research Methods since 2009.

Keywords


  • Self-regulation, executive function, school readiness, preschool, early years, early assessment, cognitive development

Full Name


  • Steven J Howard

Mailing Address


  • Building 21, Room 110E, Early Start, University of Wollongong

    Northfields Avenue

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia

Located In Facility


  • Early Start  

Top Publications


Member Of


Selected Publications


Investigator On


Other Research Activities


Impact Story


  • <p>This line of research focuses on how to easily, accurately and playfully pinpoint young children’s progress and needs in foundational areas of development (e.g., self-regulation), and leverage this information to support children’s continued development. This culminated in creation of the iPad-based <em>Early Years Toolbox</em> (www.eytoolbox.com.au), which is in use in educational and research contexts internationally.</p><p>The EYT approach to early assessment has instigated a shift away from the concentration of expertise and tools among a limited base of professionals, to instead empower those who spend the most time with young children (e.g., educators) and have the greatest opportunity to shift children’s trajectories. Specifically, our research has shown that EYT tools yield valid, reliable, sensitive and actionable information when used by pre-school educators after only a brief induction. For children, these feel like playful activities. For educators, they provide immediate and high-quality information about each child’s abilities and needs, to inform ongoing planning and practice. The EYT philosophy of barrier-free access for all who could benefit (available on the iTunes App Store) contrasts often expensive and time-consuming commercial tools.</p><p>EYT assessments have now been accessed by >11,000 users across more than 50 countries and 5 continents, and have been translated into more than a dozen languages (in collaboration with requesting institutions around the world). EYT has been used with more than 12,000 children in Australia, and greater numbers abroad, with mounting international evidence of its positive impact for educators, children and families.<br /><br /><strong>UOW Participants: </strong>A/Prof Steven Howard, Prof Ted Melhuish, A/Prof Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Prof Marc de Rosnay<br /><br /><strong>Partner Organisations:</strong> Early Start, Our Place (Victoria), Goodstart Early Learning</p>
  • The Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study involves partnerships with educators, early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres and government education departments to advance educational practice.<br /><br />FEEL is a cluster randomised controlled trial investigating the efficacy of an in-service, evidence-based professional development program for improving early childhood educators' practice, and developmental outcomes of children. It arose from a competitive tender process initiated by the NSW Department of Education and Training, awarded to UOW Early Start researchers in 2015.<br /><br />The research team recruited 90 ECEC services to be involved, half of which were randomly selected to receive the professional development program in the evaluation year, and half of which were assigned as the control group, to then receive the training following the evaluation year. Early results show children in the centres receiving the program are experiencing heightened curricular and interactional quality, with some positive effects for children's developmental progress as well (despite a relatively constrained intervention period).<br /><br />“In addition, our qualitative process analyses suggest that participants often saw the professional development program as ‘very high quality’, ‘transformative’ and ‘reaffirming’,” according to one of the research leaders, Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett.<br /><br />The ongoing potential of the FEEL study is significant for improving quality in Australian ECEC within the current workforce, by working to enhance educators' practices through intensive in-service professional development. Further longitudinal components to assess children’s school readiness have already been initiated and there is future potential to link the data through to NAPLAN years.<br /><br /><strong>UOW participants:</strong> Professor Iram Siraj, Dr Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Dr Steven Howard, Professor Ted Melhuish, Professor Marc de Rosnay, Dr Elisabeth Duursma, Dr Xiaoqi Feng, Dr Betty Luu<br /><br /><strong>Partners:</strong> NSW Department of Education, Early Childhood Education Centres across NSW, Dr Denise Kingston (University of Sussex)

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Available to supervise research topics related to self-regulation (and/or related abilities) in the early years or assessment in the early years.

Teaching Activities


Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Rethinking Block Play: The Development of the Numeracy and Mathematics Assessment (NUMBBA) for preschool aged children Grimmond, Joanne
    Doctor of Philosophy An Early Start to Self-Reguation Vasseleu, Elena
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Perceptions and Experiences of Educational Leadership in Early Childhood Contexts Stouse-Lee, Kim
    Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology) Early childhood social and emotional foundations of self-regulation in two cultures Gan, heather
    Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology) Early Cognitive Control in the Context of Atypical Development Varcoe, Stephanie
    Doctor of Philosophy Digital technologies and pre-schoolers: Enhancing learning and development through quality parent-child interactions Lewis, Kate
    Doctor of Philosophy The effects of guidance in play-based activities on the development of children's cognition and communication Day, Natalie
    Doctor of Philosophy Promoting Children's Executive Functions through a Professional Development Program for Pre-school Educators. Muir, Rosalyn
    Doctor of Philosophy Test Anxiety- prevalence, correlates, physiological measures, and intervention in a school setting. Robson, Davina
    Doctor of Philosophy Evaluation of a Program to Support High Achieving and Gifted Students in an Independent School in New South Wales Szimhart, Nadia
    Doctor of Philosophy Marking in a Standard-Referenced Framework Radford, Olivia
    Doctor of Philosophy when are we guessing? An investigation of the impact on the validity of results associated with the presence of guessing in the assessment of students in large scale assessments programs Freeman, Christopher

Outreach Overview


  • Community:

    • My research has been publicized by the Illawarra Mercury, WIN News, ABC News, ABC Radio, and more.
    • Led conceptualisation and development of the Early Years Toolbox. These tools have been downloaded more than 9,500 times from the iTunes App Store, across five continents.
    • Developed the PRSIST Program as a low- to no-cost way for parents and educators to support development of children's self-regulation (in contrast to popular brain-training approaches).
    • Developed four children's books that, in addition to a rhyming picture book, also integrate activities to promote children's self-regulation and related abilities.

    Professional:

    • Reviewer for Australian Research Council since 2017, providing assessment of submitted DECRA grant proposals.
    • Editorial Board Member of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, a Q1 journal in early years development.
    • Regularly review research articles for leading international journals in my area: e.g. Child Development; Cognition & Development; Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Educational Psychology Review; Acta Psychologica; British Journal of Educational Technology; Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.  
    • Invited Participant and Invited Chair of symposia at international conferences.

Education And Training


  • Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2009 - 2013
  • M.A. in Developmental Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2007 - 2009
  • B.A. in Psychology, York University, Department of Psychology 2000 - 2007

Awards And Honors


Teaching Overview


  • I have been teaching (subject coordinator, lecturer and tutor) in the areas of Educational Psychology and Research Methods since 2011, and lecturer and tutor in Psychology Foundations and Statistical/Research Methods since 2009.

Keywords


  • Self-regulation, executive function, school readiness, preschool, early years, early assessment, cognitive development

Full Name


  • Steven J Howard

Mailing Address


  • Building 21, Room 110E, Early Start, University of Wollongong

    Northfields Avenue

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia

Located In Facility


  • Early Start  

Geographic Focus