Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbility - George Mason University
About Us

The Kellar Institute for Human DisAbilities (KIHd) is an interdisciplinary campus-based organization focusing on improving the lives and productivity of children and adults with disabilities. KIHd combines the resources of the university with local, state, regional, national, public, and private sector agencies and organizations to develop products, services, and programs for persons with disabilities.

Writing in Middle School Science and Social Studies

Writing in Middle School Science and Social Studies: Exploring Instruction and Support for Students with Disabilities

Principal Investigator: Mason, Linda, Endowed Director, Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities.

    Co-Principal Investigators:
  • Berkeley, Sheri Associate Professor at CEHD
  • Ciullo, Steve, Texas State University
  • Collins, Alyson, Texas State University
    • Purpose: The purpose of this project is to explore relationships between teachers' use of evidence-based practices, teachers' experience with and attitudes about adapting instruction for students with disabilities, and students' writing outcomes. Although research has emphasized the need for improving content-area writing for adolescents, particularly those with disabilities, most prior research has relied on surveys to establish knowledge on this topic. This exploration project will involve direct observation of classroom instruction to determine the extent to which teachers use evidence-based responsive practices (setting the stage for instruction, modeling, providing scaffolded practice, and providing feedback) and whether these malleable practices are related to students' writing outcomes. The project will also explore teachers' experience with and attitudes toward adapting instruction and how they relate to their practices and student outcomes. Findings from this research will provide preliminary information about how writing is integrated within inclusive middle school science and social studies classrooms and will inform future professional development for teachers and interventions to improve content-area writing among students with disabilities.

      Setting: The research will take place in middle schools in Virginia and Texas.

      Award Amount: $1,399,887

      Awardees Info:

      picture of Mason, Linda, Endowed Director, Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities. Linda H. Mason is a Professor of Education and the Endowed Director of the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbility. Prior to completing her Ph.D. in 2002 at the University of Maryland, Dr. Mason was an elementary school learning support teacher for seven years, two of which she served as student support team leader. Dr. Mason conducts research in content reading comprehension and writing interventions addressing intensive instructional support for students and for supporting learning in inclusive classrooms. Dr. Mason is the current Editor-in-Chief of Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and Co-Editor of the Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education. more

      picture of Sheri Berkeley Sheri Berkeley is an Associate Professor in the Division of Special Education and disAbility Research at George Mason University. She earned her Ph.D. from George Mason in 2007. Her dissertation study that investigated self-regulation and reading comprehension outcomes for secondary students with learning disabilities was awarded both the Outstanding Achievement and Academic Excellence for PhD in Education Award from the School of Education at George Mason and the Award for Outstanding Doctoral Level Research from the Division of Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children. more

      picture of Stephen Ciullo Stephen Ciullo is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. Before earning a doctorate in Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin, Stephen was a public school teacher in New York. Stephen teaches undergraduate and graduate courses that focus on reading and writing interventions for students with disabilities. His current research projects focus on exploring the writing instruction of educators to identify malleable factors associated with improved student outcomes. Stephen is also interested in content-area literacy intervention for students with disabilities in Grades 4-8.

      picture of Alyson A. Collins Alyson A. Collins is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. She taught for nine years in Texas public schools before earning her doctoral degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University with an emphasis on learning disabilities. Her program of research focuses on exploring the writing characteristics of students with learning disabilities, effective interventions for these students, and professional development models that support teacher implementation of evidence-based interventions. She has also conducted extensive research on understanding sources of variance in reading comprehension assessments for students with and without reading disabilities.

      In addition to the current award, Dr. Cuillo and Dr. Collins are examining writing instruction provided by special education and general education teachers to fourth-grade students with disabilities (IES Goal 1 Exploration project: Award R324A180137). Findings of this project will inform future professional development research for teachers who provide writing instruction to student with disabilities.

      See full IES Grant info at Institute of Educational Sciences.