Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders

A young woman works with several young children in a daycare setting.

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Area Coordinator
Sharon Vaughn

The Department of Special Education offers a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree with a concentration in Learning Disabilities & Behavior Disorders (LD/BD). This program focuses substantial coursework and research in the areas of reading and math disabilities as well as school-based behaviors.

Students will learn about trends and effective interventions used for individuals with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. In addition, students have the opportunity to explore courses in at least two other areas of Special Education, research methods, professional coursework, and courses outside the department of Special Education.

Students are encouraged to become involved in research projects under the direction of faculty in the Department of Special Education. Students generally complete the doctoral degree in four years of full-time study. The doctoral degree in Special Education prepares graduates to work in a variety of settings including higher education, leadership roles in schools and districts, and further research into the practices and interventions that effectively treat learning disabilities.


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Diane Pedrotty Bryant


Mollie Villeret Davis Professor in Learning Disabilities

Researches instructional strategies and assistive technology adaptations for students with learning disabilities, specifically in Mathematics.

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Nathan Clemens

Associate Professor

Fellow of Mollie Villeret Davis Professor in Learning Disabilities

Works to enhance teachers’ ability to make data-based decisions, and improve interventions for students with reading difficulties.

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Christian T. Doabler

Assistant Professor

Focuses on the instructional design and efficacy testing of early mathematics and science interventions for at-risk learners.

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Sarah Powell

Assistant Professor

Develops and tests interventions for students with mathematics difficulties, emphasizing word-problem solving, mathematics writing, and the vocabulary within math.

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Jessica Toste

Assistant Professor

Focuses on effective interventions for students with and at-risk for reading disabilities, with a focus on motivational process and use of data to improve instructional decision making.

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Sharon Vaughn

Executive Director, The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk

Manuel J. Justiz Endowed Chair in Math, Science, and Technology in Teacher Education

Investigates effective interventions for a diverse group of students with reading difficulties and students who are English language learners.

Our Alumni

Min Kyung Kim

Min Kyung Kim, Ph.D. '14, who graduated from the LD/BD program under the supervision of Dr. Diane Pedrotty Bryant, recently became the Co-Chair of the Leadership Development Committee for the Council for Learning Disabilities. Kim recently accepted a faculty position at Winthrop University after having taught at East Tennessee State for three years.

Min Wook Ok

Min Wook Ok, Ph.D. '15, who graduated from the LD/BD program under the supervision of Dr. Diane Pedrotty Bryant, was selected as the Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) Outstanding Research Award recipient. Ok is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii.