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Cognition and Student Learning in Special Education


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FY Awards

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Dr. Emily Weaver
(202) 245-7114


PDF File FY 2024 84.324A (PDF: 466 KB)
MS Word FY 2024 84.324A (DOC: 202 KB) CLOSED

The Cognition and Student Learning in Special Education (Cognition) topic supports research that utilizes cognitive science to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches that are intended to improve learning and education outcomes for students with or at risk for disabilities in kindergarten through Grade 12.

This topic was developed to establish a scientific foundation for learning and development in special education by building on the theoretical and empirical advances gained through the cognitive sciences and applying them to special education practice.

Cognitive skills, including executive functions such as attention, working memory, and inhibitory control, are essential for learning and promoting positive social and behavioral outcomes. These skills enable students to perceive, focus on, store, organize, and retrieve information in ways that promote learning and achievement across a variety of content areas. Many students with or at risk for disabilities demonstrate impairments in certain cognitive skills, which is why it is important to better understand profiles of cognitive skills, their relation to education outcomes, and interventions to improve them for students with or at risk for disabilities. Research funded by this program has explored linkages between these processes and academic outcomes, developed and tested interventions to improve these processes and associated academic outcomes, and developed and/or validated measures of cognitive processes. For example, this research has contributed to our understanding of the executive functioning skills in students with or at risk for certain disabilities, the relation between working memory and academic skills and social/behavioral outcomes, and interventions that are based on the principles of cognitive science and hold promise for improving student outcomes.

Since the topic was created in 2009, NCSER has invested over $24 million in the Cognition program across four goals.

Exploration Projects
Development and Innovation Projects
Efficacy and Replication Projects
Measurement Projects