Doctoral student Jennifer Pierce came to the University of Washington College of Education wanting to make a difference in the field of special education research. That dedication was recently recognized with Pierce’s selection to the seventh cohort of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research Doctoral Student Scholars program.

DRDSS is designed to foster connections among some of the nation’s top young scholars in special education through an online seminar and discussion series, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of special education research. Pierce and other student scholars will participate in a capstone meeting during the annual conference for the Council for Exceptional Children.

“We will be able to learn from leading experts in the area of special education research so that we can really benefit from their experience and their knowledge about what it means to create productive and meaningful special education research” said Pierce.

Pierce was drawn to UW because she wanted to learn from the nationally recognized scholars on its faculty as she strove toward becoming an outstanding researcher in special education herself.

“We have a lot of opportunities here at the University of Washington to work with faculty and other doctoral students, and over the course of four years that’s been a really wonderful experience,” she said. “This [DRDSS] extends that opportunity out to work with other faculty members and other doctoral students across the United States.”

During the past year, Pierce and a fellow doctoral student worked with their advisor to run a study on the use of a coaching framework with cooperating teachers within a special educational context. The study focused on helping teachers improve preservice teacher practice.

“This year,” Pierce said, “I am working with a large research team including three professors from the area of special education on a systematic literature review on the implementation of school wide PBIS which is an intervention program for students to help improve behavior whether they have disabilities or not.”

As Pierce prepares to complete her doctoral studies, her research experience already has helped her receive an offer for a research position with the American Institute for Research.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications