I began my professional career as a speech-language pathologist working in clinical and educational settings to support young children with speech and language delays. I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Alberta (Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine) specializing in narrative comprehension in young children with and without language impairments. Following my doctorate, I completed two post-doctoral fellowships. The first with Dr. Ron Gillam in the Dept. of Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Austin and the second with Dr. Linda Phillips in the Dept. of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta.
1. Assessment and Instruction for Vulnerable Populations
A predominant thread of my research agenda aims to develop theoretically derived, evidence- based, and bias-reduced assessment protocols for students from vulnerable populations.
“I’m not lazy, I’m exhausted!” Developing a measure of fatigue for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. (Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).
Unfortunately, the most frequently used fatigue assessment instruments were developed to measure workplace fatigue or fatigue related to an illness or injury and lack items related to fatigue associated with hearing loss in school contexts. Natalia Rohatyn-Martin (MacEwan University) and I have just begun a multi-phase program of research on this topic. Our Phase 1 study aims to develop and pilot an instrument to assess fatigue related to hearing challenges (i.e., physical, cognitive, and auditory) faced by students who are deaf and hard of hearing in educational settings.
Comparison of Conventional and Dynamic Measures of Phonological Awareness
In this study I examine the contributions of an alternative assessment model, referred to as Dynamic Assessment, to the assessment and instruction of phonological awareness skills in beginning readers from non-mainstream backgrounds.
2. Perceptions of Students with Disabilities.
I am currently involved in two studies that focus on teachers’ perceptions of students with disabilities. Expectations and achievement of students with disabilities are known to be impacted by teacher perceptions. Thus, the successful inclusion of children with disabilities in general education classrooms depends upon the attitudes and beliefs teachers have about disabilities. Our university training programs are an optimal time to address concerns and unexplored beliefs and attitudes of preservice teachers toward students with disabilities.
Pre-service teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and concerns about teaching students with mild, moderate and severe disabilities in inclusive education settings. (Support for the Advancement of Scholarship, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta).
The first study aims to examine preservice teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and concerns about teaching students with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities. The knowledge gained from this study will allow university instructors to directly address areas of concern and to change attitudes and beliefs where necessary before preservice teachers begin their teaching careers.
Integrating theory and practice to enhance inclusive education in an undergraduate teacher education program. (Research Partnership Program, Alberta Education).
The second study, a partnership with the Edmonton Public School Board (Kyla Cleator and Owen Livermore), focusses on a long-standing challenge of preservice teacher education programs, that is, the connection between knowledge acquired within university courses, commonly referred to as “theory,” and knowledge acquired during in-field practicums, commonly referred to as “practice.” The study aims to provide important insights as to the perspectives of three front-line stakeholder groups (undergraduate preservice teachers, mentor classroom teachers, and university instructors) with respect to inclusive education theory-practice connections within an Alberta teacher education program. The evidence gained will enhance understanding of the theory-practice challenges related to inclusion that can be addressed into undergraduate courses and in professional development for mentor teachers.