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IES Grant

Title: Accessing Science through Literacy: Facilitating Blended and Inclusive Content Area Literacy Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disability
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Roberts, Carly Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2016-6/30/2020) Award Amount: $400,000
Type: Training Award Number: R324B160012

Mentors: Roxanne Hudson, Ilene Schwartz, Mark Windschitl; Michael Wehmeyer (University of Kansas)

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research to increase access to the general education curriculum for students with intellectual disability while participating in mentoring and training activities to develop knowledge and skills related to middle school science instruction, interventions using classroom-based support strategies, single-case design and analysis, and grant-writing. The PI intends to develop and test interventions designed to increase comprehension of and engagement in science content for students with an intellectual disability within an inclusive environment and increase teachers' capacity to provide such interventions. Students with intellectual disability generally receive limited access to inclusive science instruction, often due to a lack of support and relevant resources. Thus, an increased emphasis on how teachers in inclusive classrooms can more effectively provide such access is essential to promote students' science understanding.

Research Plan: The PI will develop and test a series of three interventions that leverage content-area literacy strategies (i.e., pre-reading strategy, reading strategy, post-reading strategy, and combined strategies) and classroom-based support strategies for accessing the general education curriculum (i.e., teacher-directed, peer-directed, student-directed, and combined support strategies) for middle school students with intellectual disability. These interventions will take place in inclusive science classrooms in an urban, high-needs middle school in Washington State. The PI will develop and implement the first intervention with four students with intellectual disability and four peers without disabilities. A multiple-baseline across participants with embedded alternating treatments single-case research design will be used to compare the four content-area literacy strategies. The literacy strategy that results in the highest student engagement, comprehension, and vocabulary understanding will be implemented and evaluated in subsequent studies. The PI will then develop and implement the second intervention using similar procedures. This intervention will pair the most promising content-area literacy strategy from the first study with support strategies to access the general curriculum and evaluate the most promising support strategy. Finally, the third intervention will involve embedding functional extension activities into instruction while implementing the most promising content-area literacy and access strategies from the previous studies. To evaluate the third intervention, the PI will use a multiple-baseline across participants with embedded A-B-A single-case design. The PI will implement a lesson study simultaneously with the last two interventions to increase teachers' capacity for implementing the inclusive instruction. The lesson study will provide teachers with the content and tools needed to plan for and implement instruction through the following process: collaborative planning, intervention implementation, observation of other teachers' lessons, and reflection on the success of the lesson and needed revisions. Participant focus groups and audio recorded lesson study sessions will also be used to assess teachers' use and knowledge of key practices associated with the intervention and perceptions of the intervention's usefulness, feasibility, sustainability, and importance in their students' development.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to enhance her ability to design and implement interventions in authentic inclusive settings, improve her single-case research skills, and develop an IES grant proposal. To accomplish these goals, the PI will engage in monthly meetings with mentors to receive feedback and guidance on the intervention development and implementation, the interpretation and dissemination of results, and grant writing. Additional training activities will include working with consultants, participating in doctoral courses, and making targeted school visits to inclusive science classrooms.