I conduct quantitative and qualitative research with the aim of helping struggling writers—students who are often identified with a learning disability (LD). My two focus areas of research are: writing skills/strategies, and response to intervention (RTI)/multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)–all with technology.
I like to develop writing skills/strategies which can be used in an intervention format. The STORY mnemonic strategy is one example. STORY provides students with a means to develop and produce an elaborate narrative story. Students first askthemselves prodding questions (e.g., Who is in this story? Where does the story take place?) The next step is for students to reflect by creating an artistic representation of their answers to these questions; this helps them in the planning stage to evade the task of writing which is often so laborious that they have little mental energy left to think about story content. Students then say the story aloud and then compose the text of their story using their drawing/painting as a means to recall ideas to be included in the text.
In this area of research, I analyze how students use a strategy, and how it promotes improvement in students’ skills.
RTI/MTSS – Intervening early; making identification decisions with current tools
The process of a student being considered for identification typically involves initial referral, then provision by school staff of some type of pre-referral intervention, and final assessment to inform school staff and parents about whether to identify the student with an LD. The referral-to-identification process is receiving renewed attention with the new method of assessment for LD: response to intervention (RTI) and multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS). In an RTI model, periodic assessments of all students in a classroom indicate the students with low scores who are “referred” for an “intervention” in literacy skills; their degree of improvement with literacy skills/strategies determines whether an underlying LD. Curriculum-based assessments during the intervention and follow-up cognitive assessments inform whether a student should be officially identified. MTSS adds the behavioral and contextual aspects (e.g., classroom practices, classmates) to the intervention and assessment systems.
RTI offers many research possibilities given that it is a new assessment method for classifying students with an LD. Teachers perspectives about the RTI process/model and which students are identified by tier three are two of my current research topics.