Megan R. Holmes, PhD

Assistant Professor

PhD, University of California Los Angeles
MSW, University of California Los Angeles
BA, San Diego State University

Google Scholar

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel
School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-7164


Using her clinical experience with families from domestic violence households to set the foundation for her research, the overarching goal of Dr. Holmes’s work is to contribute to the optimal development of children who have been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) by identifying risk and protective factors that will be translated into interventions.
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Course List

Masters Courses

  • SASS 477: Direct Practice Foundation Methods and Skills
  • SASS 549: Theory and Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work
  • SASS 555: Women’s Issues

Doctoral Courses

  • SASS 631: Job Seekers Seminar

Doctoral Student Mentoring

Dr. Holmes is passionate about her ongoing work with the Mandel School doctoral and master’s students. She provides multiple training opportunities to learn essential research and scholarship skills to facilitate the development of becoming a productive independent scholar. For example, under the mentorship of Dr. Holmes students obtain authorship on publications; learn the process of grant writing; present research at national conferences; and develop their own clear independent research and scholarship plan. Her federal grants provide funded research opportunities to her students. She also welcomes the opportunity for doctoral students to participate in a teaching mentorship for her current courses.

Scholarly Interests

  • Intimate partner violence exposure
  • Child maltreatment
  • Sibling relationships and maternal parenting
  • Early childhood development

Current Funded Research

Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes
NIH NICHD (Grant Number 1R03HD078416-01A1), $158,500. 4/10/2015–3/31/2017


Effects of instructional strategies on social work student learning outcomes
Co-Principal Investigators: Megan Holmes & Zoe Wood
Case Western Reserve University, Nord Grant, $5,000. 1/5/2015–12/18/2017


Multilevel Protective Factors that Promote Well-Being for Maltreated Children
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes.
Administration of Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau (Grant Number 90CA1817-01-00), $200,000. 9/30/2014–9/21/2016


Sibling Relationships and the Psychobiology of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure: A Pilot Study
Principal Investigator: Megan R. Holmes.
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences Research and Training Development Grant, $13,000. 9/1/2013–6/30/2016

Holmes, M. R., Yoon, S., Voith, L. A., Kobulsy, J. & Steigerwald, S. (2015). Resilience in physically abused children: Protective factors for aggression. Behavioral Sciences, 5, 176–189. doi: 10.3390/bs5020176

Holmes, M. R., Tracy, E. M., Painter, L. L., Oestreich, T., & Park, H. (2015) Moving from flipcharts to the flipped classroom: Using technology-driven teaching methods to promote active learning in foundation and advanced master’s social work courses. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43, 215–224. doi: 10.1007/s10615-015-0521-x

Holmes, M.R., Voith, L.A., & Gromoske, A. (2015). Lasting effect of IPV exposure during preschool on aggressive behavior and prosocial skills. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 30(10), 1651­–1670. doi: 10.1177/0886260514552441

Voith, L.A., Gromoske, A., & Holmes, M.R. (2014). Effects of cumulative violence exposure on children’s trauma and depression symptoms: A social ecological examination using fixed effects regression. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 7(4), 207-216. doi: 10.1007/s40653-014-0026-8

Freisthler, B. Holmes, M. R., & Wolf, J. P. (2014) The dark side of social support: Understanding the role of social support, drinking behaviors and alcohol outlets for child physical abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect. 36(6), 1106-1119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.03.011

Holmes, M. R. (2013). Sleeper effect of intimate partner violence exposure: Long-term consequences on young children’s aggressive behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 54(9), 986–995. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12071

Holmes, M. R. (2013). Aggressive behavior of children exposed to intimate partner violence: An examination of maternal mental health, maternal warmth and child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect. 37(8), 520-530. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.12.006

Holmes, M. R., Yoon, S., Voith, L. A., Kobulsy, J. & Steigerwald, S. (2015). Resilience in physically abused children: Protective factors for aggression. Oral presentation at the Council on Social Work Education 61th Annual Program Meeting, Denver, CO, October 2015.


Yoon, S., Steigerwald, S., & Holmes, M. R. Child exposure to violence: The underlying effect of trauma symptoms on behavior problems. Electronic poster presentation at the Society for Social Work and Research 19th Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, January 2015


Holmes, M. R., Tracy, E. M., Painter, L. L., & Oestreich, T. D. From flipcharts to the flipped classroom: Using technology to promote clinical skills. Faculty Development Institute at the Council on Social Work Education 60th Annual Program Meeting, Tampa, FL, October 2014.


Holmes, M. R., Voith, L. A., & Gromeske, A. N. Lasting Effect of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure During Preschool: Cross-Lagged Analyses of Aggressive Behavior and Prosocial Skills. Oral paper presentation at the Society for Social Work Research 18th Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2014.


Voith, L. A., Gromeske, A. N., & Holmes, M. R. An Ecological Examination of Cumulative Violence Exposure on Children’s Trauma and Depression Symptoms. Oral paper presentation at the Society for Social Work Research 18th Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, January 2014.


Holmes, M. R. Maternal warmth and depression: Long-term effects on domestic violence-exposed children’s aggressive behavior and prosocial skills. Poster presented at Zero to Three: 28th Annual National Training Institute, San Antonio, TX, December 2013.


Holmes, M. R. Developmental Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure on Young Children’s Social Behavior. Oral paper presentation at the 18th International Conference & Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma, San Diego, CA, September 2013.


Holmes, M. R. The Sleeper Effect of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure: Long-Term Consequences On Young Children’s Aggressive Behavior. Oral paper presentation as part of the Identifying and Maximizing Opportunities for Intervention in Infancy and Early Childhood Symposium at Society for Social Work Research 17th Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, January 2013.


Megan Holmes in the News:

Innovative technology-driven teaching methods promote active learning of clinical social work

Jun 12 2015
Betsy Tracy, Lori Longs Painter, Megan Holmes

Betsy Tracy, Lori Longs Painter, and Megan Holmes

As part of a larger initiative to promote active learning, researchers at the Mandel School participated in a yearlong project to integrate active instruction and academic technologies into their social work courses.

The use of interactive technology and technology-based peer-to-peer active learning was considered a natural fit to teach clinical practice skills in social work—techniques designed to recognize students’ diverse learning styles and promote the hands-on application of skills in classroom and field settings.

Led by Assistant Professor Megan R. Holmes (pictured at far right), the researchers implemented the following innovations:

• A foundation methods practice course was “flipped”—students viewed online lectures and instructional videos at their own pace before meeting for class, allowing classroom time to be reserved for collaborative work and case-study exercises to engage students and deepen their understanding.

• Google technology was used in both foundation and advanced masters courses to: help bridge the gap between field and classroom work through case study discussions with community practitioners through video conferencing; create an online and in-class learning community; and promote student collaboration.

• The integration of newly designed interactive classroom learning spaces and collaborative technology to promote a shift toward active learning.

The new approach is described in the Clinical Social Work Journal article “Moving from the Flipcharts to the Flipped Classroom: Using Technology Driven Teaching Methods to Promote Active Learning in Foundation and Advanced Masters Social Work Courses.”

In summer 2013, Case Western Reserve built two active learning spaces designed to promote collaboration, small group exercises and problem-solving. In contrast to typical classrooms with technology mainly for the instructor’s use, these rooms provide several large computer screens for students to use, software to collaborate in small groups and share their work with the class, movable furniture and multiple writing surfaces, which promotes active learning and collaboration.

In the upcoming renovation of its main school building, the Mandel School plans that two of the four renovated classrooms will be active learning and that the other two will be converted in the future.

An example of an active learning in-class project is writing up the psychosocial characteristics of a case study client and assessing the individual’s needs that can guide the social worker.

Teams of students work on assessments using a shared Google document, with each team contributing a portion of the material. And in real time, teams can read what other groups have contributed and learn from it, Holmes said. And when class is over, each has a template to use as a guide in new client assessments.

“Without spending time lecturing, students are freed to experience and practice skills they need as social workers,” Holmes said, “and they collaborate with others and learn from the process.”

Student feedback through course assessments and evaluations indicated that that some enjoyed the variation of group activities and that such activities produced a sense of classroom community. Based on feedback from 46 students in two social sciences courses:

• Students liked the flexibility of moveable, comfortable seating.

• They liked the ability to collaborate using the large screen displays.

• Students also noted the importance of multiple electrical outlets for them to charge their personal devices, often a challenge in more traditionally designed classroom space.

• However, some students were initially somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of new technologies used in the courses. Two comments included that both unfamiliarity with Google drive or being a non-traditional student required a little more “hand holding to understand the technology” and “struggles to access the electronic/computer information.”

• The students felt that once they understood how to use them, they were helpful, but the beginning of the course did create some anxiety.

• The feedback provided by these students, along with the data supporting the benefit of using these applications, have led the program to incorporate technology training in the student orientation.

Elizabeth M. Tracy (pictured at far left), Grace Longwell Coyle Professor in Social Work and associate dean for research and training at the Mandel School, combines traditional lectures enhanced with technologies to draw students into the learning experience for the required “Theory and Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work” course.

“Since most students bring their laptops to class, it just makes sense to actively use this technology during class time in ways beyond taking notes,” said Tracy, who also contributed to the article.

Lori Longs Painter (pictured at center), MSSA 1987, LISW-S, who is on the field education faculty and an adjunct instructor at the Mandel School, used technology to connect students with field instructors in the community so they could get expert advice on case study assessments and interventions.

Holmes, Tracy and Painter are among 24 faculty members in the past two years who received an Active Learning Fellowship. Faculty make a year long commitment to attend workshops and design a course using active learning techniques and technologies. The ITS active learning workshops help faculty understand active learning and how to integrate the method into teaching, said Tina Oestreich, an ITS faculty support and academic technology leader at Case Western Reserve.

“The Active Learning Fellowship is part of an effort to transform the culture of teaching and learning at CWRU, with new learning spaces being part of the effort,” Oestreich said. “The goal is to help faculty to think more deeply about their own teaching practices, provide recognition for faculty’s participation in the fellowship, communicate their efforts to their departments, the university and beyond and provide an additional avenue for academic research.”

Holmes, Tracy, Painter, Oestreich and doctoral candidate Hyunyong Park, from the Mandel School, contributed to the research.

Megan Holmes leads study of sibling relationships and maternal warmth to help abused children

May 21 2015

holmesResearchers at Case Western Reserve University have begun studying 1,700 children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) database to understand how mothers and siblings can protect abused children who have witnessed family violence.

“I want to focus on their positive characteristics in protecting children and eventually create an intervention that builds on those strengths,” said Dr. Megan R. Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Mandel School.

Holmes is leading the two-year project, “The Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting.” The study builds on Holmes’ investigations into intimate partner violence (IPV) between adults in the home and how it affects children, both physically and psychologically.

All the children selected from the NSCAW database have been investigated by Child Protective Services for some form of maltreatment.

The survey’s information provides researchers with first-hand accounts by parents, teachers and caseworkers about the children’s circumstances. Each child has had data collected about his or her family life at four different times from birth to 11 years old.

Holmes received $158,500 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (grant #1R03HD078416-01A1) to support the project. She will be assisted by Dr. Adam Perzynski, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Sonia Minnes, associate professor of social work at the Mandel School.

The project will examine the relationship between child abuse (neglect, physical and/or psychological mistreatment), sibling dynamics (birth order, gender and number of children in the family), maternal warmth (nurturing, support, love, concern, comfort and trust) and the social and emotional adjustment of the abused children over time.

“Better sibling relationships have better outcomes,” Holmes said.

Holmes has witnessed how older children have protected and shielded younger family members from seeing and hearing violence in the homes. As a result, however, the older children tend to have more mental health problems, she said.

Through her research, Holmes hopes to change that outcome and learn how:

  • Internal and external behavior patterns and social skills develop in IPV-exposed children;
  • Child abuse effects this behavioral and social development in IPV-exposed children;
  • Sibling factors can work to protect the abused child exposed to IPV in the home;
  • And what particularly in maternal warmth buffers children against witnessing and experiencing family violence.

Holmes also has a study underway examining the quality of sibling relationships, which she expects to contribute to designing an intervention that focuses on positive factors in those relationships.

Doctoral Training: Studying Protective Factors that Promote Well-Being for Maltreated Children

May 10 2015


The Mandel School received a two-year, $200,000 training grant to fund three studies about why some children thrive despite being abused and witnessing violence in the home. Megan R. Holmes, PhD, assistant professor and the study’s lead investigator, believes the research could help victims of abuse and neglect by learning why some children are more resilient to it. By understanding child resiliency, social workers and policymakers can implement interventions and programs that focus on protective factors that promote resiliency in maltreated children.

The training grant provides support for three studies of children ages 3 to 17: One by Holmes, plus two dissertations by Mandel School doctoral candidates Julia Kobulsky and Susan Yoon, whom Holmes will mentor.

Holmes’s study will focus on how witnessing domestic violence in the home impacts the academic performance from preschool to middle school. Kobulsky will examine the use of substances in children up to age 17, with a particular interest in those who begin using before age 13. Yoon will study the development of behavioral problems of children 4 to 13. The researchers will share what they learn with social workers and policymakers who address children’s issues. They expect to present their findings during a symposium in 2016 with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.

The Mandel School was one of just five schools nationally to receive this training grant funding, which was provided by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Fellowships for University-Based Doctoral Candidates and Faculty for Research in Child Maltreatment from the Administration of Children, Youth and Families division of the Children’s Bureau.

For more information, contact Megan R. Homes, PhD, Assistant Professor (megan.holmes2@case.edu).