The Department of Special Education is currently ranked 5th in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. This is largely due to the research conducted by our faculty and graduate students.

Our research has an important global impact. The underlying drive of our research aims to improve the quality of life and access to equitable education for individuals with disabilities, particularly in K-12 education. The work of our faculty also supports socially and linguistically diverse students with disabilities and their families.

Our department supports graduate programs and students through funding, as well as mentorship from experienced faculty on specialized research topics. Students have the opportunity to participate in research exploring topics such as:

  • intensive interventions in reading and mathematics for students with learning disabilities,
  • supporting English language learners with disabilities,
  • design and evaluation of assistive technology,
  • behavioral interventions for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and
  • transition and post school employment for persons with disabilities.


Photo of Sarah Powell

Assistant Professor Sarah Powell Wins 2018 Early Career Research Award

Powell has been named the recipient of the Division for Research 2018 Distinguished Early Career Research Award by the Council for Exceptional Children Division for Research (CEC-DR).

Data represented as mountains

Data Mountain: Journey to Educational and Behavioral Success

Doctoral student Lisa Didion discovered a way to keep her students motivated using data. By having her students track data and monitor progress, they were able to improve their behavioral and academic abilities. Together, Didion and assistant professor Toste have been conducting a pilot project using Data Mountain as a reading fluency intervention in the Austin area.  

Photo of Micheal Sandbank

For Kids With Autism, Imitation Counts for More Than the Highest Form of Flattery

New research points to children with autism’s imitation behavior as the most important predictor of a key stage in their development toward flexible speech. Learning to imitate communicative gestures may help to put children on the path to speaking with success.

Assistive and Instructional Technology Lab

Designed to familiarize students and future professionals with various assistive technology devices designed for individuals with disabilities.

Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk

Generates, disseminates, and supports the implementation of empirically validated practices to influence educators, researchers, policymakers, families, and other stakeholders who strive to improve academic, behavioral, and social outcomes for all.