UT Austin Receives $3.6 Million Grant to Support Doctoral Students Focused on Mathematics in Learning Disabilities

Dec. 2, 2021

Within many universities, there are few faculty members who focus their studies exclusively on mathematics and children with disabilities. This limited number of mathematics-focused faculty indicates that some universities may offer little to no coursework dedicated to the teaching and assessment of mathematics for children with disabilities.

It also indicates there are fewer leaders in special education who can develop and advocate professional learning in special education mathematics for in-service teachers, nor lead national conversations about policy and practice in mathematics for children with disabilities. 

The Leaders Investigating Mathematics Evidence (LIME) project at The University of Texas at Austin seeks to bridge this gap with a $3.6 million, five-year grant from the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to support doctoral students focused on mathematics in learning disabilities. The goal of LIME is to prepare the next generation of faculty leaders in this underserved mathematics focus area.

The OSEP grant will be shared, along with UT Austin, with University of Missouri and Southern Methodist University (SMU). These three universities will recruit 12 doctoral students in 2022 with a focus on mathematics in learning disabilities and fund them over the next 4-5 years. Sarah Powell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Special Education at UT Austin, co-authored the grant along with Leanne Ketterlin-Gellar, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Education Policy & Leadership at SMU, and Erica Lembke, Ph.D., professor in the College of Education at University of Missouri.

“One of the most exciting parts of this project is the recruitment of LIME Scholars across three universities,” said Powell. “In this way, LIME Scholars will have the opportunity to collaborate with Ph.D. students and faculty at other universities to create a strong network of researchers focused on mathematics.

Chosen scholars for the LIME project will participate in cross-university activities as they work on their Ph.D. at their university. These include LIME Lights (online modules completed with other LIME Scholars), LIME Times (twice yearly in-person meetings with all LIME Scholars and faculty), and LIME Experiences (publications, conferences, and research trips).

LIME is open to first-year Ph.D. students. When prospective students apply to the Ph.D. program at one of the three universities, they must express their interest in working with LIME.

To apply to LIME at UT Austin contact Sarah Powell; contact Leanne Ketterlin-Geller to apply to LIME at SMU, and Erica Lembke to apply to LIME at University of Missouri. Applications for the fall of 2022 will be due by mid-January 2022 and applicants should have a strong interest in improving mathematics outcomes for students with diverse learning needs.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding to support LIME. Every student in the U.S. must have access to high-quality mathematics instruction. With LIME, we have the opportunity to recruit LIME Scholars who will become the next generation of leaders focused on mathematics intervention,” states Powell.

Additional team members and active student recruiters for the LIME project at each university are:

UT Austin
Christian Doabler

SMU
Amy Gillespie Rouse
Annie Wilhelm

University of Missouri
Jessica Rodrigues
Delinda van Garderen