Current Research

On-going Active Studies

ALL IN: Increasing Literacy in Students with Extensive Support Needs Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication

  • The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of a phonics-based literacy program on the letter sound correspondence and sound blending abilities of students with extensive support needs (ESN) who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Building up Mathematical Problem Solving of Students with Extensive Support Needs

  • With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we are iteratively developing, refining, and evaluating a math problem solving intervention for secondary students with extensive support needs (e.g., intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities).

    • In the 2019-2020 academic year we developed and evaluated the effects of teacher-implemented MSBI in a small group format. Middle school special education teachers taught students with ESN to solve multiplicative comparison word problems. We found the intervention was effective and feasible prior to schools being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • In the 2021-2022 academic year, we will resume development and evaluation of a curriculum that uses MSBI to teach multiplicative problem solving. Middle school teachers will deliver instruction using the “Math Scene Investigators” curriculum to teach equal group and multiplicative comparison word problems to small groups of students with ESN.

Development of an Observational Assessment of the Instructional Domain of the High Leverage Practices for Novice Special Education Teachers

  • The goal of this line of research is to align novice special education teachers (SETs) beliefs about their teaching practices and their observable teaching practices. This will be accomplished by providing opportunities for self-assessment, professional development, practice-based learning, feedback, and coaching related to specific teaching practices. The initial steps required are to develop the observational assessment using BARS and assess the BARS for reliability and validity. This is the goal of the current (fall 2021) research study. Subsequent studies will evaluate if self-rating impacts SET performance.

Peer-Mediated Modified Schema Based Instruction Targeting Mathematical Problem Solving for Students with Extensive Support Needs

  • We will evaluate the implementation of peer-mediated modified schema based instruction (MSBI) on mathematical problem solving (multiplicative comparison word problems) for students with extensive support needs (i.e., autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, multiple disability, etc.) Peer mentors will be trained on how to implement the MSBI package with their mentees and data will be collected on participants' mathematical problem solving.

On-going Writing Projects (Post-Study)

Building Up Mathematical Problem Solving of Students with Extensive Support Needs: A Sub Study to Evaluate Components of Intervention Packages

  • Through a series of systematic replications, modified schema-based instruction has been established as an effective strategy to build mathematical competence of learners with ESN. A sub study was conducted in the spring of 2021 to evaluate the essential components of the MSBI intervention package when teaching problem solving skills for multiplicative comparison word problems to students. This sub study was conducted remotely with four students with ESN and specifically analyzed differences in student performance when given paper and pencil materials versus technology-based materials. This sub study provided useful information on the format of the intervention package which is especially relevant given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.

Caregiver Perceptions and Experiences Related to COVID-19

  • In collaboration with colleagues from Lehigh University, we surveyed caregivers of students with developmental disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities) to understand their perspectives and experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. We wanted to understand how Covid-19 impacted communication between schools and caregivers and their perceptions of instructional priorities for their students. Further, we wanted to understand how caregiver roles and routines have shifted over the course of the pandemic. We are currently analyzing data and themes among the participants; we are also writing up the manuscript to submit for publication.

Error Analysis

  • The mathematical profile of students with ASD is said to be highly variable, with some displaying mathematical difficulties while others are mathematically gifted. Word problem solving is one area of consistent difficulty for students with ASD. We conducted an error analysis study to analyze the problem solving strategies utilized by individuals with ASD, and looked for any possible commonalities or differences in their problem solving skills. We are currently analyzing themes among the participants and writing up the manuscript for publication.

Teaching Mathematical and Social Problem Solving through MSBI and Augmented Reality

  • With funding from the Organization for Autism Research and FSU Council on Research and Creativity we developed and evaluated a technology-based mathematical and social problem solving intervention to directly teach how, when, and why to apply mathematics and social skills necessary for independence and success in applying personal finance skills. Through two single-case studies, young adults with autism learned to evaluate a receipt for accuracy, what to do if a receipt was not accurate, and how to calculate a tip and add it to the total cost. Students were able to generalize skills to a familiar coffee shop (study #1) and unfamiliar restaurants in a local mall (study #2). We are in the process of publishing these results and presenting them at professional conferences. Check out our blog post about instructional decision making (click here) that helped guide this work!

Transition Program Evaluation

    • The project was to examine a four-week summer transition institute for individuals with disabilities. This study's primary emphasis on the impact of participation on the attendees. The institute targets hard and soft skills needed for competitive integrated employment settings. In addition, it prepares attendees for participation in industry certification courses available at local Technical Colleges. Attendees have the opportunity to learn and apply social skills that are needed on the job, at home, with friends and mentors (e.g., college student volunteers without disabilities). The objective of this project was not to test a hypothesis or conduct an experiment, but rather to observe and document the impact of the institute on attendees and stakeholders using both quantitative and qualitative measures. The objective was to document the impact, outcomes, and perceived benefits of the institute. We are currently analyzing data, evaluating the results for trends, and writing up a manuscript to submit for publication.

Virtual Math for Students with Autism

  • In conjunction with scholars from Eastern Michigan University and with the support of grants from AERA Division K and the Autism Science Foundation, we designed and evaluated a virtual video-based math intervention to teach mathematical problem solving to secondary students with autism. We aimed to develop an efficient, effective, and feasible model that can facilitate high-quality math instruction both now and in brighter post-pandemic days ahead. We are currently analyzing data and writing up a manuscript to submit for publication.