2006 Conference General Sessions





Tracy Gray
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington DC 20007
Day Phone: 202 403 6841
Fax: 202 403 5454
Email: tgray@air.org

Presenter #2
Heidi Silver-Pacuilla
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson St. NW
Washington DC 20007
Day Phone: 202 403 5218
Fax: 202 403 5454
Email: hsilver-pacuilla@air.org

Five award teams from a research competition to generate collaborative research, sponsored by NCTI, will showcase findings as well as the process of collaboration.  

The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI), funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, advances learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities by fostering technology innovation. We seek to broaden and enrich the field by promoting partnerships for the development of tools and applications by developers, manufacturers, producers, publishers and researchers in order to help them innovate and bring technologies to market that have strong research and evaluation bases, usability tests, and high accessibility standards. Now in our fourth year, we have developed timely and detailed surveys of research in content areas, examples of successful collaborations, and a wealth of knowledge about funding sources and guidelines.  

The assistive technology field is challenged by current educational policy to show more—and increasingly more rigorous— evaluation data on the effectiveness of devices and materials for students with disabilities. Stakeholder groups are hard-pressed to achieve such evaluation data on their own. Collaboration between developers, researchers, and user groups is the key to generating this data in a timely and unbiased manner.  

In May 2005, NCTI announced a new competition for collaborative research on assistive and instructional technology. This competition was for short-term (six month) evaluation and usability-type research conducted by researcher-vendor partners. Matching funds of $15,000 and plans for shared commitment had to be secured as part of the proposal. The purpose of the effort is to foster collaborative research that will test the effectiveness of technology products in improving learning outcomes for K-12 students with disabilities.   

In addition to fostering urgently needed evidence on the effectiveness of AT, NCTI sought with this competition to study collaborations. Awardees agreed to be interviewed by NCTI during their research and following the project, specifically about the process of collaboration. Projects are to be completed by February 2006, making CSUN a perfect venue for sharing the findings.

We awarded the following five proposals and will coordinate with research teams to have as many of the awardees as possible present their own findings; the research of teams that cannot attend will be presented by NCTI staff.

1. Bridge Builder: This project plans to field test the alpha version of the Bridge Builder, an accessible web page authoring tool, in a school with students with visual impairments. This setting will allow for multiple teachers, including those with typical sight and those with visual impairments, to use the software to create web sites for their classrooms, school projects, or other school based purposes, and will allow for a variety of students to access the web pages created by their teachers. The quasi-experimental information about the ease of use of the Bridge Builder by people with and without visual impairments will be gathered. The created web pages will be evaluated on their inclusion of components, ease of use, and aesthetic appearance. Students with visual impairments will be asked to find specific information on the web pages to determine the accessibility of the created pages by the intended audience. The research will provide information that will be incorporated into the beta version of the product.
2. Mathematical Automaticity for Students with Disabilities: This targeted research effort is part of a larger collaboration: Number Concepts and Automaticity. The larger project addresses the thirty-five percent of elementary students who are falling behind in math achievement. This specific effort addresses the smaller group of students with physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments who are often excluded from quality mathematics instruction. This study will employ a single subject design as the purpose is to analyze individual responses to a stimulus and determine the capability of the software to track responses. Comparisons will be made between observer data and computer data to determine the reliability of the software and the data it generates. The results of this work will be incorporated in the IntelliTools Classroom Suite and IntelliMathics, software published by IntelliTools.
3. Project SOLO™: Project SOLO™ will use a quasi-experimental pre-and post-test group design to investigate the additive benefits of SOLO™ software and ready-made assignments for SOLO™ software to self-regulated strategy instruction. Teachers and their students will be randomly assigned to three groups. All teachers will use a self-regulated strategy instructional framework three times a week for forty-five minutes for a total of six weeks. All teachers will follow the same six stages of the intervention; however, students in the self-regulated strategy instruction plus SOLO™ without ready-made assignments condition will engage in writing using the SOLO™ assignments they create with their teachers. The students in the self-regulated strategy instruction plus SOLO™ with ready-made assignments will write using the assignments that are created by the research team. A mixed model analysis of variance and a general linear model repeated factors measure will be used to test the hypotheses.
4. SOLO™ and Access to General Education Curriculum: This project will investigate the educational outcomes of SOLO™ from Don Johnston Inc. as a support to writing interventions designed to increase access to the general education curriculum with students with learning and academic disabilities. Cohorts of teachers at each of three levels who have previously received training in the use of portable keyboarding devices, voice output, word prediction and/or text-to-speech reading software will receive training in the use of the integrated SOLO software. These teachers will also receive instruction in the use of a systematic set of writing outcome measures. The effectiveness of the assistive technology product will be evaluated using a quasi-experimental Concurrent Time Series Measurement design, in which specific writing samples will be collected both with and without the support of the assistive technology (concurrent measures) and with sampling repeated over time (time series). Each student will serve as his/her own control with comparisons of AT-supported and non-supported writing being examined over time. In addition, data will be collected regarding both teacher and student attitude and feedback concerning the use of the SOLO product.
5. The Signing Science Dictionary Research Study: TERC, in collaboration with Vcom3D, will conduct a formative evaluation of their 300-term prototype interactive 3D signing science dictionary. Students in grades 4-8 who are deaf/hard-of-hearing and whose first language is sign will complete a unit about weather using the dictionary. The study will examine the causal relationship between use of the dictionary and students’ ability to work and read independently and to master the science content. Findings will contribute to the research basis needed for development and rigorous field testing of a more robust signing science dictionary in elementary and middle-grade classrooms. Six schools for the deaf with the requisite technology have been recruited. During a period prior to using the dictionary, teachers will track each student’s ability to read and work independently. These baseline data will be compared with assessments of the students while using the dictionary and with the student’s responses on a post-unit questionnaire. Use of the dictionary will then be stopped for a period and second baseline measurements taken, followed by a second period of dictionary use. Additional instruments will include teacher pre- and post-unit surveys. Comparisons will also be made with pre- and post-unit learning outcomes for the target population who completed a signed version of the unit and with those of hearing students who completed an unsigned version.

The final fifteen minutes of the presentation will be open for discussion with the audience to engage in a discussion of the research findings as well as a discussion of the processes of collaboration.

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