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News from March 2013

Glickman Symposium to feature University of Pittsburgh’s Naomi Zigmond
March 29, 2013

Dr. Naomi Zigmond of the University of Pittsburgh will be featured speaker of the Department of Special Education's Glickman Symposium from 4 to 5 p.m. on April 18 in the Cissy McDaniel Parker Dean's Conference Room (SZB 238). Glickman will present "Educating Students With Learning Disabilities: Where We've Been, Where We Are, Where We're Going" at the event. To RSVP, send an e-mail with "Zigmond" in the subject line to

Zigmond, a distinguished professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, has been a special education researcher and teacher for 4 decades, focusing on the organization of special education services in elementary and secondary schools and the impact of program organization on student achievement. 

Save the date: Causal Inferences in Educational Research Conference set for May 9 and 10
March 29, 2013

​The Causal Inferences in Educational Research Conference—a 1.5-day series of presentations, workshops, and project meetings on design issues and concerns—will be held on May 9 and 10. The conference will feature Dr. Vivian Wong of the University of Virginia. More specific information will be posted as it becomes available.

Irish scholar Olive Healy to explore autism research at 2013 Mollie Villeret Davis Symposium
March 29, 2013

Olive Healy—director of research at the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research and a lecturer in psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway—will be the featured speaker for MCPER's 2013 Mollie Villeret Davis Symposium. ​Healy will present "Child and Family Research Outcomes at the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research" at 4 p.m. on April 22 in the Al Kiva Room (SZB 104), followed by a reception. Admission is free, and participants can receive 1.5 BCBA continuing education credits. To RSVP, send an e-mail with "Autism" in the subject line to

Healy's research focuses on the assessment and treatment of behavioral problems in autism and related conditions. She is currently on the editorial board of five scientific journals and has more than 15 years of experience in the application of behavior analysis to the treatment of developmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. Healy played a leading role in establishing behavior analysis as recognized division of the Psychological Society of Ireland. In 1998, Healy was involved in opening and directing the first government-funded applied behavior analysis school for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders in Ireland and establishing four additional treatment centers that use applied behavior analysis as the primary educational intervention for autism spectrum disorders. She has served as an expert witness in a number of court cases involving individuals with special needs.


Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute 

McCaffery to present “Causal Modeling With Observational Data and Covariates Measured With Error”
March 29, 2013

Daniel McCaffrey of the Educational Testing Association and RAND Corp. will discuss "Causal Modeling With Observational Data and Covariates Measured With Error," the latest installment of the Distinguished Lecture series, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on April 3 in SZB 324. Faculty members and students are invited to attend the lecture, presented by the Quantitative Methods Area of the UT Austin Department of Educational Psychology, the Pearson Center for Applied Psychometric Research, and MCPER.

Shannon Giroir to present “ESL Learning, Social Participation, and Negotiating the Periphery”
March 25, 2013

Shannon Giroir, a MCPER postdoctoral fellow, will lead a brown bag presentation titled "ESL Learning, Social Participation, and Negotiating the 'Periphery': Saudi ESL Students in U.S. Higher Education Contexts" from noon to 1 p.m. on March 25 in the Pittenger Room (SZB 418). Giroir will report on a study of how a group of adult ESL learners negotiated their positionality vis-à-vis the second-language community. The presentation will focus specifically on two Saudi Arabian men and how they negotiated social participation outside of the ESL classroom. 

Tags: Language for Learning Institute Reading Institute 

Baylor’s Grant Morgan to present “Finite Mixture Modeling With Nonnormal or Categorical Indicators”
March 13, 2013

Grant Morgan, an assistant professor of education psychology at Baylor University, will present “Finite Mixture Modeling With Nonnormal or Categorical Indicators: A Monte Carlo Examination of Fit Indices for Model Selection” from noon to 1 p.m. on March 20 in SZB 324. 

Morgan will discuss the findings from three simulation studies that examined the performance of fit indices that applied researchers commonly use in model selection. Each of the studies included design factors that reflect conditions found in applied research as well as categorical or nonnormally distributed mixture indicators. Morgan will explore the accuracy of the fit indices in the studies and present recommendations for fit index use and potential solutions for nonnormality.

Finite mixture modeling for the purposes of classification is a model-based approach that can be used to identify groups of cases underlying a multivariate dataset and offers significant improvement over traditional, distance-based clustering procedures (i.e., cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling). Among the major advantages of finite mixture modeling is the inclusion of a variety of fit measures, each of which reflects a slightly different aspect of model fit, and the ability to simultaneously use variables measured at different metric levels and distribution shapes. Despite these advantages, model selection aided by fit indices remains a challenge to researchers.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute researchers’ chelation treatment review gets national exposure
March 5, 2013

A review of studies on chelation treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), led by ASD institute fellow Tonya Davis of Baylor University and co-written by other institute researchers, is getting national attention. The review—"Chelation Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review," which appears in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders—is the subject of a story by the Reuters wire service and an article in Forbes, among others. In turn, several news outlets have since picked up the Reuters story, including Yahoo! News and Fox News.

Chelation is a treatment to remove specific metals from the body. In recent years, chelation has been used as a treatment for ASDs. This review systematically identified studies that have evaluated the effects of chelation on the core symptoms of autism: communication impairments, social skills deficits, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. Four of the five studies identified found mixed results, and only one study reported positive results. Moreover, the studies contained many weaknesses that prevent the ability to attribute changes in participant characteristics or behaviors solely to chelation. Because of the limited number of studies and the significant limitations of these studies, the review did not find evidence to support the use of chelation as a treatment for ASDs.

ASD Institute Director Mark O'Reilly, postdoctoral fellow Soyeon Kang, and institute fellows Russell Lang and Mandy Rispoli co-wrote the review with Davis.

Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute