Sarah Powell wins Distinguished Early Career Research Award
February 22, 2018
MCPER Principal Investigator Sarah Powell has earned the Council for Exceptional Children's Distinguished Early Career Research Award.
Powell, who heads multiple projects in MCPER's Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs, received the award at an event on February 9 in Tampa, Florida.
The 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," according to a Council for Exceptional Children announcement. "Powell is one of, if not the, most promising young scholars in the area of mathematics education and high incidence disabilities. Her mathematics intervention work is theoretically based and gaining considerable recognition in the United States and internationally."
For more information, visit the Council for Exceptional Children website.
Brian R. Bryant, a fellow and principal investigator with MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties, was tabbed as a guest editor of a special issue of the journal Assistive Technology.
Bryant and Soonhwa Seok of Texas State University co-edited the special issue, titled "Technology-Based Instruction." In the introduction, Bryant and Seok write of the special issue that "noted scholars contribute research findings designed to add to the growing body of knowledge validating the use of assistive and instructional technology in the classroom."
One article, "Assessing the Acquisition of Requesting a Variety of Preferred Items Using Different Speech Generating Device Formats for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder," is written by Mark O'Reilly, chair of the UT Austin Department of Special Education, and colleagues.
MCPER has been awarded a $2.5 million, 4-year federal grant to launch the Scientific Explorers project, which will design and test a science program for the full range of second-grade learners, including those with or at risk for learning disabilities in mathematics, reading, and science.
The goal of the Scientific Explorers program, funded by the National Science Foundation Discovery Research PreK–12 program, is to lay an early foundation for science learning, drawing upon the disciplinary core ideas and cross-cutting concepts related to Earth’s Systems in the Next Generation Science Standards. The project also will develop and test an accompanying science assessment. In year 4, the project will conduct a pilot study of the program and assessment in 40 second-grade classrooms in Texas and Virginia.
MCPER's Christian Doabler is the project's principal investigator. Sarah Powell of MCPER, Victor Sampson of the UT Austin College of Education, and Bill Therrien of the University of Virginia are the co-principal investigators. MCPER's Greg Roberts and Anna-Mari Fall are the project’s methodologists.
"A robust understanding of disciplinary core ideas and practices in science is necessary for obtaining jobs in the STEM fields," Doabler said. "Yet, few effective instructional tools exist for the science classroom."
For more information, visit the Scientific Explorers project webpage.
MCPER researchers Sarah Powell and Sharon Vaughn have received a $1 million grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to develop and use math and reading read-alouds with young children.
The 5-year project, Interactive Read-Alouds for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Skills, will aim to improve the read-aloud practices of caregivers and teachers of children ages 3 to 6. A read-aloud is when an adult reads aloud to a child and engages the child in discussion and exploration as the reading occurs.
“Many parents and teachers read story books aloud to young children, but books about early math concepts are used infrequently,” Powell said. “With this project, we aim to improve typical routines with read-alouds so that teachers and parents not only focus on reading but also discuss math vocabulary and math content with young children.”
One aim of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, based in Lufkin, Texas, is to address low rates of educational attainment in East Texas. With this grant, the researchers will work with caregivers and teachers in East Texas to increase home and school literacy and numeracy discussions and activities.
The project will design a set of research-based practices that will be useful and effective for caregivers and teachers throughout Texas, ensuring that youngsters will be more prepared for kindergarten and beyond.
“We are so proud to be working with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to better outcomes in early literacy and numeracy,” Vaughn said. “We consider it a huge honor to have received this grant and are very grateful for their support.”
For more information, visit the project webpage.
In a new article, MCPER Mathematics Institute Director Diane Bryant and Principal Investigator Sarah Powell provide a consise summary of the mathematics practices that are supported by the best evidence and can be implemented every day in all grades.
"Making the Numbers Add Up: What Solid Research Tells Us About Teaching Math" appears in the June issue of Texas Lone Star, a publication of the Texas Association of School Boards. In the article, Bryant and Powell explore the importance of teaching mathematics vocabulary; having students show their work; and starting early on the path to college and career readiness—in elementary school—by ensuring that young students develop fluency and automaticity with computation, and with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.
The article also points readers to MCPER's 10 Key Mathematics Practices for All Elementary Schools and 10 Key Mathematics Practices for All Middle and High Schools. Both guides include practical, research-based recommendations that states, school districts, and schools can use to improve students' mathematics outcomes.
For more information on MCPER's mathematics work, visit the Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties.
MCPER's Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties held a Central Texas School District Mathematics Forum luncheon on April 22. The purpose of the forum was to identify and problem-solve issues that districts encounter in mathematics instruction. Administrators and curriculum directors and specialists attended the forum. Barbara Dougherty, a research professor at the University of Missouri and Mathematics Institute fellow, was featured as the luncheon speaker. The Math Institute looks forward to more collaborative partnerships with school districts.
Sarah Powell, a principal investigator in MCPER's Mathematics Institute, has won the Samuel A. Kirk Award for the best practice article of 2015 in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.
Powell co-authored "Intensive Intervention in Mathematics" with Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University. For a description and full citation of the article, visit the MCPER Library. For more information or to obtain the article, visit the journal's website.
Powell joins Eunsoo Cho and colleagues, who won the Kirk Award for the research category.
Diane Pedrotty Bryant, director of the MCPER Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties, recently delivered a Distinguished Lecture and Distinguished Research Talk on mathematics and students with mathematics difficulties and disabilities at Purdue University. The talks were supported by funding from that National Science Foundation and the Purdue University College of Education Office of Discovery and Faculty Development to Purdue's Dr. Yan Ping Xin.
MCPER has received a $3 million federal grant to test a word problem intervention for third-graders with or at risk for mathematics difficulties.
The new 3-year project—Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations to Promote Word Problem Performance Among Students With Mathematics Difficulty—will assess whether equation-solving instruction conducted within the context of word problem intervention leads to improved word problem solving for this population of students. Each year, the project will recruit 150 third-grade students with or at risk for mathematics difficulties and provide individual intervention to 100 students. Sarah Powell with serve as principal investigator of the project, with Marcia Barnes as the co-principal investigator, MCPER Associate Director Greg Roberts as the methodologist, and Lynn Fuchs of Vanderbilt University and Jon Star of Harvard University as consultants.
The funding is from the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
MCPER is well represented in the latest edition of the journal Intervention in School and Clinic—the special issue "Mathematics Interventions: Translating Research Into Practice."
Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties Director Diane Bryant, Fellow Brian R. Bryant, and former Project Manager Kathleen Hughes Pfannenstiel were the guest editors for the special issue. The three also penned the Introduction, in which they write that the purpose of the special issue is to "provide content knowledge about specific mathematics skills and concepts, and evidence-based practices for teaching this content to students who have [a mathematics learning disability] or are struggling with mathematics but may not have an identified mathematics disability." They also offer brief synopses of the five articles in the issue.
Institute Fellow Sarah Powell wrote the article "The Influence of Symbols and Equations on Understanding Mathematical Equivalence," in which she examines the misunderstanding of mathematics symbols, particularly the equal sign, as a "potential contributing factor to lower mathematics performance."
Institute Fellow Barb Dougherty, Diane Bryant, Brian R. Bryant, Pfannenstiel, and two colleagues in Project AIM wrote "Developing Concepts and Generalizations to Build Algebraic Thinking: The Reversibility, Flexibility, and Generalization Approach." This article explores "three types of questions—reversibility, flexibility, and generalizations—[that] support the acquisition of broader concepts leading to algebraic thinking" and provides examples of the question types in relation to rational numbers and integers to help teachers of students with learning disabilities.
Finally, Pfannenstiel, Diane Bryant, Brian R. Bryant, and former Project Coordinator Jennifer Porterfield contributed the article "Cognitive Strategy Instruction for Teaching Word Problems to Primary-Level Struggling Students." In this article, the authors describe Math Scene Investigator, an example of a cognitive strategy suitable for teaching word problem solving to primary-level students with mathematics difficulties and learning disabilities.
For more information, visit the Intervention in School and Clinic website.
Tags: Mathematics and Science Institute for Students With Special Needs  The Validation of Early Mathematics Interventions Algebra-Readiness Mathematics Intervention for Middle School Students: Project AIM