2016 Research Awards Recipients

DR is pleased to announce recipients of its 2016 research awards. Recipients will be recognized on April 15, 2015 at the DR Business Meeting and Reception to be held during the CEC Convention and Expo in St. Louis, MO.

This year awards were made in the following categories:

Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award
Dr. Robert Horner (University of Oregon) 
Distinguished Early Career Research Award
Dr. Brian Boyd (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Early Career Publication Award Dr. Alexandra Hollo (West Virginia University)

Student Research Award



Dr. Debra McKeown
Dr. Elizabeth Bettini
Dr. Alicia F. Saunders
Dr. Melissa K. Driver


Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award

The Division for Research is pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Horner is the 2016 recipient of the Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award. This award recognizes individuals or research teams who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education over the course of their careers.  The award, co-sponsored by Routledge, a leading academic publisher, includes $1,000 to be presented at the CEC-DR Reception and Awards Ceremony at the 2016 CEC Convention and Expo and an invited presentation at the 2017 CEC Convention and Expo. Dr. Horner earned his doctorate from the University of Oregon in special education after previously completing his bachelor’s at Stanford University and master’s from Washington State University. He has served on the faculty of the University of Oregon since 1978, where he is currently is an Alumni-Knight endowed professor of special education and also directs the Educational and Community Supports research unit.

Dr. Horner has a long and influential career in research in special education, applied behavior analysis, and related fields. His vita includes over 200 peer-reviewed scholarly articles and over 100 books, book chapters, and reports. Dr. Horner has been a leader in the development, research, and implementation of positive behavior intervention and support (PBIS). His experimental, systems-level, and translational research has helped advance the field in a scientifically rigorous and practical manner. As Co-director of the Technical Assistance Center on PBIS, he leads a multi-state team that has provided support to over 21,000 schools in 50 states and also in multiple international settings.

Dr. Horner has published a series of seminal articles to develop stringent standards for single-case research, a technical manual for reviewers to include single-case research in Institute of Education Sciences (IES) What Works Clearinghouse reviews of evidence-based practices and a series of IES grants to deliver trainings in research methodology for researchers, grant reviewers, and funders. His efforts have resulted in increased credibility of this important research methodology.

As Kent McIntosh and Brigid Flannery noted, “His enduring commitment to providing practitioners with research-validated materials and tools, as well as technical assistance that focuses on building local capacity is a true model for those who wish to make an impact on the field of special education. Dr. Horner’s research has shown sensitivity not only to whether interventions work but also to how and under what conditions they work. In this process, he has built problem-solving models to enhance data-based decision making in schools and team-based approaches that can be adapted to a wide range of special education practices”.

Robert Horner
Alumni-Knight Professor
Special Education and Clinical Sciences
College of Education
University of Oregon

Early Career Research Award

The Division for Research is pleased to name Dr. Brian Boyd the recipient of the DR 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award. This award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic and/or applied research in special education within the first 10 years after receiving the doctoral degree. The award, co-sponsored by the Donald D. Hammill Foundation, includes $1,000 to be presented to each recipient at the DR reception at the 2015 CEC Annual Convention and Expo and an invited presentation at the CEC convention the following year.

Dr. Boyd received his doctorate in special education from the University of Florida, and currently is an Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Sciences and Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Boyd is considered one of the most promising scholars in the areas of Early Childhood and Autism. He has published 46 papers in top tier journals, such as the Journal of Child Psychology and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and his work is cited frequently. Dr. Boyd has also been highly successful in securing considerable competitive, federal funding for his work from the National Institutes for Health and the U.S. Department of Education.

Brian Boyd

Assistant Professor
Department of Allied Health Sciences
School of Medicine
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Early Career Publication Award

Dr. Alexandra Hollo has been named the recipient of the DR 2016 Distinguished Early Career Publication Award. This award recognizes outstanding research publications by individuals who completed their doctorate within the last five years.

Dr. Hollo, PhD, BCBA-D, received her doctorate in special education from Vanderbilt University in 2013, and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Louisville. She is now an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University. The following publication was nominated:  Hollo, A., Wehby, J. H., & Oliver, R. M. (2014). Unidentified language deficits in children with emotional and behavioral disorders: A meta-analysis. Exceptional Children, 80, 169-186.

Abstract: Low language proficiency and problem behavior often co-occur, yet language deficits are likely to be overlooked in children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Random effects meta-analyses were conducted to determine prevalence and severity of the problem. Across 22 studies, participants included 1,171 children ages 5-13 with formally identified EBD and no history of developmental, neurological, or language disorders. Results indicated prevalence of below-average language performance was 81%, 95% CI [76, 84]. The mean comprehensive language score was 76.33 [71, 82], which was significantly below average. Implications include the need to (a) require language screening for all students with EBD, (b) clarify the relationship between language and behavior, and (c) develop interventions to ameliorate the effects of these dual deficits.

Alexandra Hollo
Assistant Professor
Department of Special Education
College of Education and Human Services
West Virginia University

Student Research Award

Awards are being made in 2016 in each of the four categories DR recognizes in this student research awards program: qualitative, quantitative, single subject, and mixed methods design. This program recognizes high-quality research conducted by students in the course of their undergraduate or graduate special education training program.

 Qualitative Design 

Title: Teachers’ Voices: Understanding Effective Practice-based Professional Development for Elementary Teachers on SRSD in Writing

Abstract: This qualitative study examined understandings of practice-based professional development (PBPD) and its effectiveness for teacher implementation of an evidence-based practice, self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) for writing. Focus group interviews with 14 second- and third-grade teachers with diverse classrooms who participated in PBPD for SRSD in writing were conducted that resulted in significant and meaningful changes for teachers and students. Grounded theory was used to analyze interview data and findings were triangulated among researchers to increase trustworthiness. This study gives voice to teachers who successfully implemented an evidence-based practice at the whole class (or Tier 1) level. Teachers’ perceptions of the characteristics and components of PBPD for SRSD, implementation of SRSD instruction, and the results of PBPD for SRSD were explored. Findings highlight aspects of PBPD and SRSD teachers believed were important and why, as well as what they would change in the future. Challenges addressed include aspects of PBPD and differentiating SRSD instruction in diverse classrooms. Implications for future professional development and classwide implementation of SRSD are discussed along with limitations and future directions for research.

Student Awardee: Debra McKeown, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Georgia State University  
Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, & Communication Disorders
College of Education and Human Development
Georgia State University

Advisor: Karen Harris, Ph.D.
Mary Emily Warner Professor
Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University

Quantitative Design 

Title: Novice Special Educators’ Perceptions of Workload Manageability: Do They Matter and Are They Influenced by Novices’ Perceptions of Their Social Context?

Abstract: Novice special education teachers (SETs) consistently report that their workloads are unmanageable, encompassing too many responsibilities with insufficient support for fulfilling all responsibilities effectively. Extant research provides some evidence that perceptions of workload manageability predict teachers’ intentions to continue teaching, but this relationship has not been examined among novice SETs and other possible consequences of workload manageability (e.g. for burnout and instruction), have seldom been investigated. Further, extant research provides few insights into the factors that contribute to perceptions of workload manageability; understanding these factors is essential for determining how to help novices manage their workloads. In this article, two studies using structural equation modeling were implemented to examine data from the Michigan-Indiana Early Career Teacher (MIECT) study. The first study examined whether workload manageability is associated with consequences of concern. SETs’ perceptions of workload manageability significantly predicted emotional exhaustion and career intentions, but not instruction. GETs’ perceptions of workload manageability predicted emotional exhaustion, career intentions, and the proportion of time spent in instruction; the magnitude of these relationships was larger for GETs than SETs, even though SETs rated their workloads less manageable than GETs. Based on these findings, it was concluded that novice SETs’ and GETs’ perceptions of workload manageability are important to understand and address. To inform efforts to address them, the second study examined how school social contexts contribute to perceptions of workload manageability. It was also determined that SETs’ perceptions of workload manageability were predicted by instructional interactions with colleagues and schools’ cultures of collective responsibility for students with disabilities, but not instructional interactions with mentors. The pattern of relationships differed for SETs and GETs, suggesting that different populations of novices may benefit from different supports for managing their workloads.

Student Awardee: Elizabeth Bettini, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Special Education Program
School of Education
Boston University

Advisor: Mary Brownell, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform Center
Department of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies
College of Education
University of Florida

 Single-Subject Design 

Title: Effects of Modified Schema-based Instruction Delivered through Computer-based Video Instruction on Mathematical Word Problem Solving of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Moderate Intellectual Disability

Abstract: The Common Core State Standards initiative calls for all students to be college and career ready with 21st Century skills by high school graduation, yet the question remains how to prepare students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and moderate intellectual disability (ID) with higher order mathematical concepts. Mathematical problem solving is a critical, higher order skill that students need to have in order to solve real-world problems, but there is currently limited research on teaching problem solving to students with ASD and moderate ID. This study investigated the effects of modified schema-based instruction (SBI) delivered through computer-based video instruction (CBVI) on the acquisition of mathematical problem solving skills, as well as the ability to discriminate problem type, to three elementary-aged students with ASD and moderate ID using a single-case multiple probe across participants design. The study also examined participant’s ability to generalize skills to a paper-and-pencil format. Results showed a functional relation between SBI delivered through CBVI and the participants’ mathematical word problem solving skills, ability to discriminate problem type, and generalization to novel problems in paper-and-pencil format. The findings of this study provide several implications for practice for using CBVI to teach higher order mathematical content to students with ASD and moderate ID, and offers suggestions for future research in this area.

Student Awardee: Alicia F. Saunders, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Department of Special Education and Child Development
College of Education
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Advisor: Ya-yu Lo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Special Education and Child Development
College of Education
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Mixed-Methods Design

Title: Word-Problem Instruction for English Learners with Mathematics Difficulty: A Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Approach

Word problems are prevalent on high-stakes assessments, and success on word problems has implications for grade promotion and graduation. Unfortunately, English Learners (ELs) continue to perform significantly below their native English-speaking peers on mathematics assessments featuring word problems, which may be attributed to the linguistic complexity of mathematics instruction and standardized assessments. Little is known about the instructional needs and performance of ELs at-risk for mathematics difficulty (MD). In the present study, a mixed-methods design (i.e., qualitative methods and an exploratory quasi-experimental design) was used to investigate word-problem instruction for ELs in a culturally and linguistically diverse public elementary school. Specifically, we studied one teacher’s mathematics instruction for ELs over several months and empirically tested the efficacy of a word-problem intervention for ELs with MD (N = 9) that combined culturally and linguistically responsive practices and schema instruction (CLR-SI). The study is unique in that it combines research on effective instruction for ELs and students with MD; CLR-SI has not been investigated for either ELs or students with MD. Results have implications for teachers, administrators, and researchers of ELs with MD.

Student Awardee: Melissa K. Driver, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Inclusive Education
Bagwell College of Education
Kennesaw State University

Advisor: Sarah R. Powell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Special Education, College of Education
University of Texas at Austin