August 8, 2018
Creating a program to train educators to better teach students with developmental disabilities, including autism, is the goal of new grant-funded research by faculty in the Purdue University’s College of Education.
Rose Mason, an assistant professor of educational studies in the College of Education and a member of the Purdue Autism Cluster, is principal investigator for the three-year project which recently received $1.39 million from the Institute of Education Sciences.
The purpose of the project is to develop Para-Impact. The program works to train special education teachers in the practice of coaching. Those teachers subsequently train teacher’s aides, also called paraeducators, to implement high-quality instruction for elementary students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities.
“Schools are in need of an efficient and effective method to train paraeducators,” Mason said. “It is our hope that the development of Para-Impact will help fill this need.”
Mason said paraeducators make up more than half of the special education workforce while the majority of teachers indicate they do not have the skills necessary to effectively supervise those paraeducators.
“As a result, students with developmental disabilities face minimized learning opportunities and may not be exposed to rigorous, high-quality instruction,” Mason said.
Rose will work with colleagues Mandy Rispoli, associate professor of special education; Jennifer Richardson, professor of learning design and technology, and Yukiko Maeda, associate professor of educational psychology, as well as colleagues at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas.
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