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Main Office

Department of Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education
School of Education
Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall, Rm. 431
MadisonWI  53706

Tel: 608/263.5970
Fax: 608/263.5970

or by contact form

Faculty Research Projects

Culturally Responsive Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (CRPBIS)

Professor Aydin Bal leads a formative intervention experiment on the state-wide implementation of CRPBIS, a social justice-oriented systemic transformation framework. The project is funded by a federal grant (CFDA# 84.027) through Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WDPI) over two years. Grounded in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and a Local to Global Social Justice perspective, the CRPBIS framework aims to re-mediate school cultures by examining and influencing socio-historical-spatial processes (e.g., the racialization of school discipline) via a continuous cycle of praxis, a collective critical reflection-action process that draws from systemic disruptions, to develop solutions from the ground-up.

The ultimate goal of the CRPBIS framework is to facilitate an ecologically valid, sustainable, and socially just systemic transformation to address disproportionate representation of non-dominant students in punitive and exclusionary disciplinary actions (e.g., expulsion) and special education programs for emotional/ behavioral disorders. In close collaboration with WDPI, two school districts, and community-based social justice organizations, the CRPBIS project has two objectives: (a) form socially positive, academically rich, and inclusive school cultures in four Wisconsin schools; (b) transform the state-level policy and practices that reproduce outcome disparities and the exclusion and marginalization of non-dominant students and families.

For more information, visit the CRPBIS website or email CPRBIS

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Effective Vocational Rehabilitation Service Delivery Practice (RRTC-EBP-VR)

The RRTC is established at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Stout under a five-year, $5 million grant award (#H133B100034) from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), US Department of Education. The World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model will be used to guide the research agenda of the center to improve the delivery of VR services. There will be three research phases, with each subsequent phase informing the next. Phase 1–Analyzing RSA-911 and related data to examine organizational level variables (e.g., state unemployment rates) and individual level data (e.g., race and disability type) to determine P x E interactions and their associations with quality of employment outcomes using multi-level analysis. Phase 2—In-depth Case Study involves studying four exemplary vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and compares them with other VR agencies to identify promising practices. Phase 3–New Data will fill gaps identified in Phase 1 and 2 through collecting new data. Major Phase 3 projects include validating the ICF as a VR model, testing a motivational enhancement model for VR, evaluating the effectiveness of a motivational interviewing intervention, and conducting a controlled study on a counselors’ toolkit for incorporating evidence-based VR practices.

For more information, contact Professor Fong Chan or Professor Tim Tansey.

Madison Disproportionality Research Project: A Cultural-Historical Activity Theory-Oriented Study of District-Wide Action of Developmental Transfer

Dr. Aydin Bal is leading a multiple-phase study of culturally and linguistically diverse students’ disproportionate representation in special education programs. In collaboration with Madison Metropolitan School District, the purpose of this mixed-method study is to inform an equity-oriented culturally responsive district-wide systemic change effort in order to address the multiply determined enduring issue of disproportionality. This research project offers Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education and other UW-Madison students the opportunities to study a complex educational phenomenon from a comprehensive systemic transformation perspective. Graduate and undergraduate students will be able to participate in data collection, analysis, and presentation/publication activities.

If you are interested in this project, please contact Dr. Bal.

Secondary Special Education and Transition Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities

Dr. Doren's research interests are varied, but substantively center on issues of improving the school and post-school experiences and outcomes of adolescents and young adults with disabilities focusing on those with high incidence disabilities. Her scholarship activities represent two broad areas of inquiry: (a) exploration of individual factors, family factors, and transition-related instruction, experiences, and services that are associated with positive school and post-school outcomes of adolescents and young adults with disabilities, and (b) development and evaluation of instructional practices and strategies to promote self-advocacy, self-determination, and career preparation of students with high incidence disabilities. A strand that connects each of these areas is a focus on further understanding and meeting the unique needs of youth with disabilities who are vulnerable to poorer post school outcomes including girls and young women with disabilities and those students with disabilities from poverty-backgrounds.  To this end, she is currently directing a grant awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences focusing on mediators and moderators of poverty in a national sample of adolescents with disabilities. Dr. Doren also is initiating a new project that will focus on enhancing the social and emotional relationships between students who are behaviorally at risk and their teachers, and parents in middle schools.

For more information, contact Dr. Bonnie Doren.

Wisconsin Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE)

The Wisconsin PROMISE is established at the State of Wisconsin-Department of Workforce Development-Division of Vocational Rehabilitation under a $32.5 million grant award (#H418P130004) from a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Labor. The University of Wisconsin-Stout and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are collaborators of this demonstration project.

The PROMISE initiative is intended to improve services for youth receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and their families. The focus of services is to help youth achieve better outcomes, including graduating from high school ready for college and a career, completing postsecondary education and job training, and obtaining competitive employment in an integrated setting. As a result, these youth can achieve increased independence while reducing long-term reliance on SSI.

Wisconsin is one of six sites participating in the demonstration project. Wisconsin PROMISE will help youth and their families meet their school and work goals in order to better their income and financial stability, reducing poverty.

Find out more at Wisconsin PROMISE or contact Dr. Fong Chan or Dr. Tim Tansey.

A Higher-Order Predictor of Well-Being in Persons with Disabilities: Core Self-Evaluations

Dr. Susan Miller Smedema is engaged in a research program which emphasizes the relationship between a relatively new higher-order positive psychological construct, core self-evaluations (CSE), which is defined as a person’s overall, global evaluation of him or herself as a worthy or competent person, and well-being outcomes in persons with disabilities. According to the original theorists (Judge, Erez, & Bono, 1998; Judge, Locke, & Durham, 1997), CSE is encompassed by four traits: self-esteem, self-efficacy, emotional stability, and locus of control, and according to the theory, it is this higher-order construct that explains dispositional well-being. In 2014 and the first half of 2015, Dr. Smedema published a series of articles related to CSE in persons with disabilities. She published a solo-authored conceptual-pedagogical piece titled Core Self-Evaluations and Well-Being in Persons with Disabilities, which introduces the construct CSE to the field of rehabilitation. In it, she discusses the theory and previous research related to CSE in the general population and also provides suggestions for the use of CSE in rehabilitation research and practice. In addition, she published several articles including the examination of CSE as a mediator between functional disability and life satisfaction in college students with disabilities, the application of CSE to Snyder’s Hope Theory in persons with spinal cord injuries, and the identification of mediators of the relationship between CSE and life satisfaction in persons with spinal cord injuries. She plans to continue working with CSE as a construct that has the power to predict positive employment and well-being outcomes in persons with a variety of different types of disabilities.

For more information, contact Dr. Susan Smedema.

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