Phone: +1 512 232 2320
Office: SZB 4.908
Office Hours: By appointment
View Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Dr. Elizabeth Swanson's career focus for 25+ years is on improving educational opportunities for struggling readers and students with learning disabilities. As a special education teacher, she served elementary school students with mild to moderate disabilities, including dyslexia, math disabilities, and behavior disorders. In fact, you can still find her active in the classroom as a guest educator (i.e., substitute teacher) every chance she gets.
Swanson is currently a Research Professor with a primary appointment with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and a courtesy appointment in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Swanson has served as principal investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on projects exceeding $35 million to date, all focused on preventing or remediating reading difficulties at the elementary and middle school levels.
In addition to many teacher-focused practice guides designed to help bridge research to practice, she has published more than 65 articles in peer reviewed journals focused on literacy instruction in grades K-8. She presents frequently for teachers, school leaders, and researchers at nationally recognized conferences.
Dr. Swanson co-authored two books:
"Now We Get it! Boosting Comprehension with Collaborative Strategic Reading"
"Literacy Coaching in Secondary Settings: Improving Intensive Instruction for All Students.
Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, 2008
Ed.M. in Special Education, The University of Texas at Austin, 2003
B.S. in Applied Learning and Development, The University of Texas at Austin, 1997
All of my work focuses on developing and testing for efficacy literacy practices for struggling readers.
* infusing literacy practices into elementary and middle school content area classes;
* empowering parents to provide reading support to their own children;
* providing intervention to struggling readers;
* translating research to practice for teachers;
* designing effective professional development;
* translating research into usable products for parents.
Grant Proposal Reviewer, National Science Foundation, Core R & D Programs(2016 - 2018)
Member Editorial Board, Review of Educational Research(2015 - Present)
Member Editorial Board, Reading and Writing Quarterly(2015 - Present)
Member Editorial Board, Learning Disability Quarterly(2012 - Present)
Proposal Review Panel, Council for Exceptional Children(2012 - 2015)
Member, Local Arrangements Committee, Council for Learning Disabilities(2011 - 2012)
Member, Membership Committee, Council for Learning Disabilities(2009 - 2010)
President, Texas Council for Learning Disabilities(2005 - 2006)
Vice President, Texas Council for Learning Disabilities(2004 - 2005)
Wexler, J., Swanson, E., Kurz, L-A. & Shelton, A. (2020). Enhancing reading comprehension in middle school classrooms using a critical reading routine.. Intervention in School and Clinic, 55(4).
Swanson, E., Austin, C., Stewart, A. & Scammacca, N. (2020). A meta-analysis of the effects of e-book interventions on K-12 student reading outcomes. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 1–17.
Stevens, E., Vaughn, S. & Swanson, E. (2020). Examining the Effects of a Tier 2 Reading Comprehension Intervention Aligned to Tier 1 Instruction for Fourth Grade Struggling Readers. Exceptional Children, 1–19.
Scammacca, N., Fall, A-M., Capin, P., Roberts, G. & Swanson, E. (2020). Examining factors affecting reading and math growth and achievement gaps in grades 15: A cohort-sequential longitudinal approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(4), 718–734.
Vaughn, S., Fall, A-M., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., Swanson, E. & Martinez, L. (2019). Class percentage of students with reading difficulties on content knowledge and comprehension. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52(2), 120–134.
Swanson, E., McCulley, L.V.., Osman, D.J.., Scammacca, N. & Solis, M. (2019). The Effect of Team Based Learning in Post-Secondary Settings on Content Knowledge: A Meta-Analysis. Active Learning in Higher Education, 20(1). doi:10.1177/1469787417731201.
Swanson, E., Stevens, E.A.. & Wexler, J. (2019). Engaging students in text-based discussion within content area instruction. Teaching Exceptional Children, 51(4), 305–312.
Scammacca, N., Fall, A-M., Capin, P., Roberts, G. & Swanson, E. (2019). Examining factors affecting reading and math growth and achievement gaps in grades 15: A cohort-sequential longitudinal approach. Journal of Educational Psychology. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000400.
Wexler, J., Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., Shelton, A. & Kurz, L.A.. (2019). Building a sustainable school-wide adolescent literacy model in middle schools: Guidance for administrators. Middle School Journal, 50(3), 15–25.
Swanson, E. & Wexler, J. (2019). Using the common core state standard guidelines to select appropriate text for adolescents with learning disabilities (in press). Teaching Exceptional Children.
Wanzek, J., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Swanson, E. & Sargent, K. (2018). Examining the role of pre-instruction academic performance within a text-based approach to improving student content knowledge and understanding. Exceptional Children, 85(2), 212–228. doi:10.1177/0014402918783187.
Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Fall, A-M., Roberts, G., Hall, C. & Miller, V. (2017). Middle school reading comprehension and content learning intervention for below average readers.. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 33, 37–53.
Vaughn, S., Martinez, L. R.., Wanzek, J.., Roberts, G., Swanson, E. & Fall, A-M. (2017). Improving content knowledge and comprehension for English language learners: Findings from a randomized control trial.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1), 22–34.
Swanson, E. & Wexler, J. (2017). Selecting Appropriate Text for Adolescents with Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 49(3), 160–167. (View)
Swanson, E., Stevens, E., Scammacca, N., Capin, P., Stewart, A. & Austin, C. (2017). The impact of tier-1 reading instruction on reading outcomes for students in grades 4-12: A meta-analysis. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 30(8), 1639–1665. (View)
Swanson, E., McCulley, L. V.., Osman, D. J.., Scammacca, N. & Solis, M. (2017). The Effect of Team Based Learning in Post-Secondary Settings on Content Knowledge: A Meta-Analysis.. Active Learning in Higher Education, online first. (View)
Swanson, E., Barnes, M., Fall, A-M. & Roberts, G. (2017). Predictors of reading comprehsnion among struggling readers who exhibit differing levels of inattention and hyperactivity. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, Online First. (View)
Swanson, E., Vaughn, S. & Wexler, J. (2017). Enhancing adolescents comprehension of text by building vocabulary knowledge.. Teaching Exceptional Children, Online First. (View)
Swanson, E., Waznek, J., McCulley, L., Stillman-Spisak, S., Vaughn, S., Simmons, D., Fogarty, M. & Hairrell, A. (2016). Literacy and text reading in middle and high school social studies and English language arts classrooms. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 32(3), 199–222. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED562675.pdf. doi:10.1080/10573569.2014.910718.
Swanson, E., Reed, D. & Vaughn, S. (2016). Research-based lessons that support student independent reading in social studies.. Preventing School Failure. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1045988X.2016.1164116. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1045988X.2016.1164116.
Wanzek, J., Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G. & Fall, A-M. (2016). English learner and non-English learner students with disabilities: Content acquisition and comprehension.. Exceptional Children, 82(4), 428–442. doi:10.1177/0014402915619419.
Wexler, J., Vaughn, S. & Swanson, E. (2016). Resources for improving low literacy levels in adolescents. Austin, TX: U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs through H326M150016 for the Adolescent Literacy Model for Students with Disabilities: Improving Instruction and Intervention to Enhance Reading at UT Austin, pgs. 1-12. (View)
Vaughn, S. & Swanson, E. (2015). Special education research advances knowledge in education. Exceptional Children, 82, 11–24. (View)
Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G. & Fall, A. (2015). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge among middle school students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 81(4), 426–442. doi:10.1177/0014402914563704.
Wanzek, J., Swanson, E., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S. & Kent, S. (2015). Promoting acceleration of comprehension and content through text in high school social studies classes. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(2), 169–188.
Wanzek, J., Kent, S., Vaughn, S., Swanson, E., Roberts, G. & Haynes, M. (2015). Implementing team-based learning in middle school studies classes. Journal of Educational Research, 108(4), 331–334.
Kent, S., Wanzek, J., Swanson, E. & Vaughn, S. (2015). Team-based learning for students with high-incidence disabilities in high school social studies classrooms. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 31, 3–14.
Swanson, E. & Wanzek, J. (2014). Applying research in reading comprehension to social studies instruction for middle and high school students. Intervention in School and Clinic, 49(3), 142–147.
Denton, C., Wolters, C., York, M., Swanson, E., Kulesz, P. & Francis, D. (2014). Adolescents use of reading comprehension strategies: Differences related to reading proficiency, grade level, and gender. Learning and Individual Differences, 37, 81–95.
Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Fall, A-M. & Stillman-Spisak, S. (2014). Improving middle school students knowledge and comprehension in social studies: A replication. Educational Psychology Review, 27(1), 31–50.
Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Kent, S., Swanson, E., Roberts, G., Haynes, M., Fall, A-M., Stillman-Spisak, S. & Solis, M. (2014). The effects of team-based learning on social studies knowledge acquisition in high school.. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7, 183–204.
Reed, D., Swanson, E., Petscher, Y. & Vaughn, S. (2014). The effects of teacher read-alouds and student silent reading on predominantly bilingual high school seniors learning and retention of social studies content. Reading and Writing, 27(7), 1119–1140. (View)
Swanson, E., Hairrell, A., Kent, S., Ciullo, S., Wanzek, J. & Vaughn, S. (2014). A Synthesis and Meta-Analysis of Reading Interventions Using Social Studies Content for Students with Learning Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(2), 178–195.
Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Klingner, J., Swanson, E., Boardman, A., Stillman, S., Mohammed, S. & Leroux, A. (2013). Collaborative Strategic Reading: Findings from experienced implementers. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 6(2), 137–163.
Vaughn, S., Swanson, E., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., Stillman-Spisak, S., Solis, M. & Simmons, D. (2013). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge in middle school. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(1), 77–93.
Klingner, J., Vaughn, S., Boardman, A. & Swanson, E. (2012). Now we get it!: Boosting comprehension with collaborative strategic reading. San Fancisco: Jossey-Bass.
Newman-Thomas, C., Smith, C., Zhao, X., Rieth, H., Swanson, E. & Heo, Y. (2012). Technology-based practice to teach preservice teachers to assess oral reading fluency. Journal of Special Education Technology, 27(1), 15–32.
Solis, M., Vaughn, S., Swanson, E. & McCulley, L. (2012). Collaborative models of instruction: The empirical foundations of inclusion and co-teaching. Journal of School Psychology, 49, 498–510.
Swanson, E., Solis, M., Ciullo, S. & McKenna, J. (2012). Special Education Teachers Perceptions and Instructional Practices in Response to Intervention Implementation. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35, 115–126.
Swanson, E., Wanzek, J., Haring, C., Ciullo, S. & McCulley, L. (2011). Intervention fidelity in special and general education research journals. The Journal of Special Education, 47(1), 3–13.
Vaughn, S., Klingner, J., Swanson, E., Boardman, A., Roberts, G., Mohammed, S. & Stillman-Spisak, S. (2011). Efficacy of Collaborative Strategic Reading with middle school students. American Educational Research Journal, 48(4), 938–964.
Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Petscher, Y., Heckert, J., Cavanaugh, C., Kurz, G. & Klingner, K. (2011). A Synthesis of Read-Aloud Interventions on Early Reading Outcomes among Preschool through Third Graders at risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44, 258–275.
Swanson, E., Edmonds, M., Hairrell, A., Vaughn, S. & Simmons, D. (2011). Applying a cohesive set of comprehension strategies to content area instructio. Intervention in School and Clinic, 46, 266–272.
Hairrell, A., Simmons, D., Swanson, E., Edmonds, M. & Vaughn, S. (2010). Translating vocabulary research to social studies instruction: Before, during, and after text reading strategies. Intervention in School and Clinic, 46, 1–7.
Swanson, E. & Vaughn, S. (2010). An observation study of reading instruction provided to elementary students with learning disabilities in the resource room. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 481–492.
Swanson, E. (2008). Observing reading instruction for students with LD: A synthesis. Learning Disability Quarterly, 31, 1–19.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Methodological Skill Development
Institute of Education Sciences. August 2020-July 2025 Role: Mentor
AIM Coaching Development Project
Institute of Education Sciences July 2020-June 2024 Role: Co-Principal Investigator
YMCA Cross-Age Peer Tutoring Project
This work aims to improve outcomes of early readers through cross-age peer tutoring in the YMCA after-school program. Goals of this program include reducing learning gaps for students with reading difficulties, where effects of COVID-19 may have exacerbated this gap due to learning loss from schooling interruptions. Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences
Parent Led Reading Lessons
An estimated 20% of young children struggle with learning to read (Bassok et al., 2017; West et al., 2001), and parents are eager to help their children. In a nationally representative survey of parents (Silander et al., 2018), 99% of parents, regardless of income or education, think its important to help their child learn to read at home. In addition, 76% of parents reported that they and the school are equally responsible for helping their child learn to read. Parents of struggling readers report that to remediate their childs reading difficulty, they often must access reading instruction outside of the school system (Silander et al., 2018), an option that is inaccessible to many families who cannot afford private tutors. For these families in particular, there should be another high-quality, affordable option. Parents of young struggling readers are willing to work with their children (Spurlock, 2017) and report that they need lessons that are (a) short, (b) fun, (c) easy to implement, (d) self-contained so that materials are in one place, and (e) affordable (Petty, 2021; Tidwell, 2021). Researchers will work closely with a cadre of parents whose first-graders struggle with reading to develop a set of at-home reading lessons. After development, a pilot study in collaboration with area elementary schools will investigate initial efficacy. Check back in the summer of 2022 to download the lessons, free of charge.
Examining the Efficacy of Differential Levels of Professional Development for Teaching Content Area Reading Strategies
Institute of Education Sciences. July 2015-June 2021 Role: Principal Investigator
Understanding Malleable Cognitive Processes and Integrated Comprehension Interventions for Grades 7-12
Institute of Education Sciences. June 2010-May 2019 Role: Co-Investigator
Adolescent Literacy Model for Students with Disabilities: Improving Instruction and Intervention to Enhance Reading
Office of Special Education Programming October 2015-June 2020 Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Building RTI Capacity
Texas Education Agency. 2018-2019 Role: Principal Investigator
Evaluation of PACT: Replication in a Train-the-Trainers Context
Institute of Education Sciences. July 2020-June 2025 Role: Principal Investigator or Sub-award Site
Nominee, Hamilton Book Award, University Co-Op (2022)
Lead Feature Article, Intervention in School and Clinic (2020)
Must Read Article, Council for Learning Disabilities (2020)
Must Read Article, Council of Learning Disabilities (2012)
Office of Special Education Programming Doctoral Training Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education (2004 - 2008)
Marye Ann Fox Endowed Presidential Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin (2004 - 2005)
Carolyn J. and John H. Young Endowed Presidential Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin (2004 - 2005)
Must Read Article, Council of Learning Disabilities (2000)
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PACT Plus at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk
MCPER is partnering with the University of Maryland to implement and refine a tiered approach to improve reading among sixth- through eighth-grade students with disabilities in public schools. The first goal is to increase knowledge about the implementation and efficacy of an instructional and intensive intervention model for adolescents with disabilities and significant reading difficulties. We aim to determine whether and to what extent the project (a) improves reading achievement and literacy-related outcomes and (b) assists educators in developing a model for implementing research-based practices for students with disabilities in middle school. The second goal is increased availability of evidence-based technical assistance, professional development, and publications on effective models and their successful implementation for secondary students with disabilities. Within a tiered model, all science, social studies, and English language arts teachers will receive extensive, high-quality professional development to implement Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text (PACT) in their classrooms. In addition, all special education teachers will receive equally extensive and high-quality professional development to implement the Responsive Intervention for Students With Disabilities (RISD) intervention.
STRIVE at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk
This project is designed to test the efficacy of a professional development model that features Strategies for Reading Information and Vocabulary Effectively (STRIVE), a fully developed set of evidence-based practices for content area instruction with upper-elementary students. MCPER researchers and Central Texas teachers jointly developed the 18-week STRIVE lessons based on several years of experimental pilot studies with approximately 50 teachers and 900 students. The STRIVE curriculum was designed to meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards for vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, and social studies content. The STRIVE intervention will be supported through an ongoing professional development model.
PACT at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk
MCPER has partnered with the University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas A&M University, and Florida State University to improve the reading comprehension of students in grades 7 through 12. The focused program of research of the project, Promoting Adolescents Comprehension of Text (PACT), is designed to answer key questions about the role of cognitive processes, motivation, engagement, and components of interventions to improve reading comprehension. During 5 years, the project will conduct a series of integrated research studies with the following overarching aims: * Improve the knowledge of cognitive processes associated with reading comprehension to identify malleable processes that may be targets for intervention * Provide knowledge about the role of engagement and motivation in enhancing reading comprehension outcomes * Integrate and apply the findings from these studies and the empirical bases to develop and test the efficacy of interventions for students with reading comprehension difficulties in grades 7 through 12
Building RTI Capacity
The Building RTI Capacity for Implementation in Texas Schools project is part of the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) within the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Funded by the Texas Education Agency for more than 10 years, we promote evidence-based practices and resources to build Texas schools capacity for implementing Response to Intervention (RTI). Our goal is to help schools use RTI to increase student achievement by reducing the number of students with learning and behavior difficulties. Our team creates and disseminates information, resources, and tools to enhance instructional decision-making in the areas of reading, mathematics, and behavior. An additional focus is promoting the success of students in foster care.
This work represents ongoing efforts to improve literacy outcomes for middle school students by infusing content area instruction with a set of feasible, effective instructional practices critical for the success of all students, including students with disabilities. The project is focused on developing AIM Coaching to provide ongoing professional development and support to teachers as they implement PACT. We believe that this ongoing professional development will lead to greater PACT implementation fidelity. This, in turn, will affect student literacy outcomes.