Research

Research Interests

My research interests and projects stem from my experiences as a special education teacher, a clinician in augmentative communication and assistive technologies, and a teacher educator. These varied experiences provide me with a broad-based knowledge of student characteristics and needs, with particular expertise in teaching students with multiple and complex learning needs.

I was an early adopter of online learning technologies and have been teaching online courses for over 10 years. Enhancing the effectiveness of online learning is an ongoing research interest.

Specific research themes include:

  • Inclusive education
  • Relationship between teacher epistemological beliefs and practices and student outcomes in inclusive classrooms
  • Role of assistive and digital technologies in supporting learning
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of online instruction and learning
  • Teacher education
  • Qualitative inquiry

Research and teaching are inextricably linked. Supervising research assistants gives me an opportunity to extend my teaching in a more intense, intimate, collaborative, mentoring manner. I can share my experiences and knowledge, while at the same time, working closely with and learning from the research assistants and their experiences. Supervising graduate students also provides me with opportunities to sharpen my research skills and stay abreast of research and teaching innovation and areas of inquiry relative to special / inclusive education.

Graduate study is a unique time in one’s career to formally and intensively develop pedagogical and research knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Invariably graduate students have competing demands on their time. A key goal for me as a graduate supervisor is to support communication, collaboration, and learning among the students I am supervising, with the aim of fostering a community of learners and practice. Researchers and research assistants attend weekly research team meetings. The interprovincial nature of my research means meetings have occurred by way of teleconference and Skype. I am always available for in person meetings and respond to e-mails promptly.

Research Projects

Characteristics of Effective Teaching Practices in Inclusive Classrooms

I have assumed the role of principal investigator on this SSHRC-funded research project. The project’s objective is to identify the characteristics of teachers, schools, and school districts, as well as student outcomes that contribute to effective inclusion in Canadian classrooms. Data analysis is ongoing. Several research articles have been published. The results of this research are expanding our understanding of teaching in complex and diverse classrooms with the intent of informing educational policy development and teacher education programs.

Inclusive Education in a Regional Alberta Public School District

This research is examining inclusive teaching and learning in a school district that follows a fully inclusive model. The broad perspectives of parents, students, teachers, assistants, administrators and staff have been gathered through surveys. A closer lens is examining inclusion through the eyes of students with and without disabilities across grade levels using interviews and classroom observation methods.

Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities in Ukraine

I’m a member of the Canadian Ukraine Research Team, a CIDA-funded development project focused on developing inclusive education opportunities for children with disabilities in Ukraine . This work has resulted in collaborative research and the development of Ukraine’s educational policies and capacity to address the needs of students with special needs in inclusive classrooms and community schools. (Learn more)

Investigating Effects of Implementing SMART Board Technology on Inclusion and Achievement of Students with Special Needs

I’m part of a collaborative research project with the Technology Integration and Evaluation (TIE) research lab (http://tie.uvic.ca/) that is investigating the effects of SMART Board technology on the inclusion and achievement of students with special needs.

Evaluating the Electronic Textbook

This survey-based research project is examining learner responses to the use of an electronic textbook, Jordan, A. (2007). Introduction to inclusive education. Toronto, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. (Modules 1-5), in two offerings of an online course, ED-D 420, Learning Support: Context & Key Issues.

Integrating Assistive Technology into Teacher Education to Enable Students with Special needs to Engage in Constructivist Learning

This two-phase project which is in its developmental stage will focus on answering the following research questions:

  1. How can AT be incorporated as an approach for instructors in their teacher education courses? (Phase 1)
  2. How can AT ultimately provide elementary-level learners with technologies and strategies allowing them to construct meaningful, effective learning experiences on an individual basis – i.e., engage in self-directed learning? (Phase 2)

The Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education

I am a co-applicant on Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant aimed at establishing a national voice for inclusion. Children who are educated in higher inclusive settings are in better health, enjoy going to school, progress well in school, and interact well with peers (Timmons & Wagner, 2010).  It is paramount that inclusion is given priority in the education community. We need to continue to research in the area of inclusion in order to provide answers to questions such as: What works? What does not work? Why are some children in some provinces included more than others? How do we effectively support teachers, assistants, administrators, and parents in understanding and implementing effective practices and supports.  The Centre will allow researchers from coast to coast to come together in partnerships with local schools and community groups to develop a Canadian understanding of inclusion. Learn more.