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Holli Ann Tonyan

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Curriculum Vitae

Holli Tonyan graduated from UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies with a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education. She has since completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Developmental Science at UC, Santa Cruz and worked as a Lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne Australia.

Holli's teaching interests are in Developmental Psychology and Qualitative Research Methods. In addition, she is interested in helping CSUN students find pathways into applied developmental work and research - understanding the settings and factors that help children grow up safe and secure in all the environments they live in.

Her research interests are organized around understanding children's development as part of social and cultural contexts and the vision that adults can create spaces for young children that nurture their full potential toward a variety of ideals of life (and not just certain ideals for development). Drawing from the work of Thomas Weisner in developing Eco-Cultural Theory and Barbara Rogoff's sociocultural theory, her current research focuses on how adults' ideas about children influence the kinds of activities they provide for children in child care settings, particularly family child care (i.e., in California that means licensed child care for up to 14 children provided by 1-2 adults in a home setting as a small business). Although most people think of child care centers or "babysitters," when they think of child care, many more child care sites in the San Fernando Valley are based in homes than in centers, and many of the nation's most vulnerable children spend more hours in family child care than in center-based care. Despite it's importance in children's lives, little research has examined this complex site for child development. By talking with family child care providers about their daily life, this research uncovers the cultural aspects of children's daily life that often go unnoticed. The ultimate goal of this work is to understand why and how family child care providers do (or can learn to) support children's healthy development, including healthy weight, physical activity, and stress regulation.

In addition, she is very interested in working with students in developing topics of mutual interest. Recent student projects have examined: intimate partner violence as related to attachment and gender among college students, values and beliefs of child care providers as related to observed behavior, continuity in maternal sensitivity over time as related to changes in children's security of attachment, providers motivations for entering and remaining in family child care, and growth in body mass index as related to maternal and familial factors.

For more information, please visit: http://www.csun.edu/~htonyan/CurrentResearch.html

We recently completed a pilot study interviewing family child care providers about their daily life. For more information, visit: http://www.csun.edu/~htonyan/SustainableRoutines.htm

A recent project surveyed child care providers in the San Fernando Valley region. Providers interested in learning more can visit: http://www.csun.edu/~htonyan/EcologyChildCareSFV.html

Interested in Joining the Lab? First, check our our current research. If you are interested in joining the lab and getting involved in current research, please complete an application and then let us know you did (see my email link at right). If you don't hear from us right away, send an email to follow-up. We will have a combination of volunteer opportunities and paid positions available.

Are you seeking a letter of recommendation? Please download and read some guidelines by me and also check out http://www.csun.edu/plunk. Before you email me to request letters, please download and complete a table with the information I will need. I prefer it if you send me an electronic copy of the table. Also remember that many times you need to sign a copy of a form to go along with my letter - be sure to provide me with a signed copy of the form!

For copies of papers or to "follow" my work, visit: http://csun.academia.edu/HolliTonyan

Professional Memberships

Dr Tonyan is a member of the following organizations.

  1. Society for Research in Child Development
  2. International Society for Culture and Activity Research (see the Section on Developmental Psychology and Childhood)
  3. Association for Psychological Science
  4. American Psychological Association (see Division 7, Developmental Psychology)

Dr Tonyan is interested in the following organizations which may also be of interest to visitors to this site.

  1. International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD)
  2. International Society of Infant Studies
  3. American Association of University Women
  4. American Educational Researchers Association
  5. National Association for the Education of Young Children
  6. National Association for Family Child Care


Contact Information


News and Announcements

Recently Funded!

A recent award from the US Administration for Children and Families supports a four-year partnership between CSUN and the California Department of Education's Child Development Division to understand the benefits and consequence of California's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge for family child care providers.

New Publications

Tonyan, H. A. (in press). Everyday routines: A window into the cultural organization of family child care. Journal of Early Childood Research.

Tonyan, H. A., Nuttall, J. (in press). Connecting cultural models of home-based care and childminders' career paths: An Eco-cultural analysis. International Journal of Early Years Education.

Tonyan, H. A., Mamikonian, A., & Chien, D. (in press). Do they practice what they preach? An Ecocultural, multidimensional, group-based examination of the relationship between beliefs and behaviours among child care providers. Early Child Development and Care.

Tonyan, H. A. (2013). All by Myself? Independence and Coordination During Distress Episodes from 14 to 24 Months Among Latino Children. Infant and Child Development. Click here to view the abstract.

Ongoing Research

Have you ever wondered what are the characteristics of an environment that best supports children's early development? How do adults' ideas about child development influence the kinds of experiences that children have in early childhood settings? These are the kinds of questions that my lab and I are pursuing.

We are currently interviewing family child care providers about their daily routines. If you would like to volunteer to participate as a provider or to help conduct the research, click here for more information.


We presented our first preliminary results at SRCD and AERA this year: Click here to download our handout for:

Tonyan, H. A. (2013, April). Understanding Home-Based Care as a Culturally Organized Ecological Niche: Cultural Models and the Organization of Daily Routines. A poster presented April 20, 2013, at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, Washington.

Tonyan, H. A. (2013, April). Cultural models as mediators of what is possible in a day. Presentation to the Roundtable session “Getting Beyond the Zone of Proximal Development: Further Possibilities for Strengthening Early Childhood Education through Cultural-Historical Analyses” at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association,San Francisco, California, 28 April, 2013.


Looking for a Letter of Recommendation?

If you are seeking a letter of recommendation, please read some guidelines by me and also check out http://www.csun.edu/plunk. Before you email me to request letters, please download and complete a table with the information I will need.