James Madison University

Elena Savina, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

PHOTO: Elena Savina
  • Office: Johnston Hall 108
  • Phone: 540-568-4552
  • Email: savinaea@jmu.edu
  • Mailing Address:
    MSC 7401
    800 S. Main St.
    Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807


  • Ph.D., Moscow State Pedagogical University, Concentration: Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of Central Arkansas, Concentration: School Psychology
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist


Dr. Savina teaches courses in assessment, school psychology, and supervises clinical practicum with children and their families in various settings. Her clinical experiences include serving as a child psychologist at Children Village - SOS (Lavrovo, Russia)—the world's largest child charity dedicated to orphans and abandoned children; a therapist at acute and residential psychiatric wards for children and adolescents; and a counselor at a school-based mental health clinic. Dr. Savina has expertise in assessment, child psychotherapy, parenting training and education, school-based consultation and interventions. In her work, Dr. Savina systematically applies a socio-cultural approach, which emphasizes the role of contextual and interpersonal variables in children's development and mental health. 

Scholarly Interests/Research Topics

  • Developmental, cultural, and educational aspects of self-regulation in children
  • Socio-emotional programs development
  • Game-based executive function interventions
  • Projective assessment of children
  • Socio-cultural psychology

Ongoing Research Projects

Self-regulation in the classroom. This project includes the exploration of teachers’ beliefs and practices related to students’ and teachers’ self-regulation in the classroom; identifying effective instructional and behavioral strategies to promote students’ self-regulation;  designing a training program for teachers to utilize environmental, behavioral and instructional strategies to foster students’ self-regulation as well as to support their own self-regulation.

Development of prosocial and global education curriculum Journey Around the World (in collaboration with Dr. Vesna Hart). The primary goals of the curriculum are to: (1) develop children’s social understanding, perspective taking, and collaboration skills; (2) promote prosocial feelings and behaviors; (3) increase knowledge about cultural diversity and a sense of global citizenship; and (4) develop oral and written language skills. View PDF

Development of socio-emotional learning curriculum for elementary school children “Play, Learn, & Enjoy” (in collaboration with C-I students Lyndsay Anmuth, Kelly Atwood, & Whitney Giesing). This curriculum is designed in a thematic game-based format and links self-regulation skills with socio-emotional competencies. The neurocognitive perspective is used to identify discrete self-regulation skills; while the Vygotskian ideas about socio-cultural origin of self-regulation and the role of play in self-regulation are being used to design curriculum activities.

Study of defense mechanisms in elementary school children using the projective Fairy Tale Test (in collaboration with Ul’ana Pashkova from Orel State University, Russia). This research project is aimed at the development of a coding manual to identify defense mechanisms in children responses to the FTT; to explore age differences in using defense mechanisms; and study personality variables associated with defense mechanisms.    

Recent Publications

Savina, E. (2014). Does play promote self-regulation in children?  Early Child Development and Care, 11-12(184), 1692-1705. Doi:10.1080/03004430.2013.875541

Savina, E., Simon, J., & Lester, M. (2014). School reintegration following psychiatric hospitalization: An ecological perspective. Child & Youth Care Forum, 43(6), 729-746. Doi: 10.1007/s10566-014-9263-0

Savina, E., Moskovtseva, L., Naumenko, O., & Zilberberg, A. (2014). How Russian teachers, parents, and school psychologists perceive internalising and externalising behaviours in children. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 19(4), 371-385. doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2014.891358 

Savina, E. A., Skoblikova, I., & Wan, P. (2013). Emotion regulation strategies in 8-11-year-old children. Scientific Reports of Orel State University, 2, 443-446 (In Russian).

Savina, E. (2013). Perceived control over personal goals in Russian and American college students. International Journal of Psychology, 48(4), 551-562. 

Stepina, N. V.,  & Savina, E. (2012). Study of the associations between preschoolers’ creativity, independent verbal behavior, and maternal style.  Scientific Reports of Belgorod State University, 12(14), 217-224. (In Russian).

Savina, E., Coulacoglou, C., Sanyal, N., & Jhang, Z. (2012). The study of externalizing and internalizing behaviours in Greek, Russian, Indian, and Chinese children using the Fairy Tale Test. School Psychology International, 33(1), 39-53.  

Simon, J. B., & Savina, E. (2010). Transitioning children from psychiatric hospitals to schools: The role of the special educator. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 27, 41–45.

Lammers, B., Savina, E., Skotko, D., & Churlaeva, M. (2010). Faculty and student perceptions of outstanding university teachers in the USA and Russia. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 30(7), 803-815.

Bramlett, R., Cates, G. L., Savina, E., & Lauinger, B. (2010). Assessing effectiveness of academic interventions in school psychology journals: 1995-2005. Psychology in the Schools, 47(2), 114-125.

Savina, E., & Gladkih, E. (2009). Folk-theories of alcoholism: Between- and within-culture differences. Scientific Reports of Belgorod State University, 14(69), Issue 4, pp. 48-58. (In Russian).