I am an Associate Professor in the College of Education at University of Washington, Seattle. I am interested in designing accessible instruction for students – particularly students with disabilities.
My primary research is focused on students with mathematics learning disabilities (dyscalculia). My interest in learning disabilities grew out of my own experience being diagnosed with a reading learning disability (dyslexia). I experienced first-hand the struggles students with learning disabilities face and these experiences have fundamentally shaped my own conceptualization of learning disabilities and how I approach my research. I understand learning disabilities not as irreconcilable cognitive deficits, but as cognitive differences, which result in atypical difficulties using standard mathematical representations. In my work I identify the unique difficulties experienced by students with math learning disabilities by working with students in one-on-one tutoring settings. Through detailed analyses of video recordings, I identify how students with math learning disabilities use and understand standard mathematical representations (e.g., numbers, drawings, graphs) in unconventional ways. These mathematical representations may be less accessible because of differences in how students with math learning disabilities process numerical information. In my work I both document the ways in which students with mathematics learning disabilities have compensated to address these inaccessible contexts and also how we might design alternative instructional tools that make mathematics more accessible.
My second line of research is concerned with designing educational supports for foster and adoptive parents. Children in the child welfare system, often struggle academically, and foster/adoptive parents must figure out how to support their children inside and outside of school. I am interested in working with foster/adoptive parents to problem solve and design innovative tools to support their children academically. I have created a website: foster-edu.com which provides resources for foster/adoptive parents during this time of home schooling and distance learning.
My third area of interest – one that I am only beginning to investigate – involves understanding the unique role that American Sign Language can play in supporting Deaf students’ understanding of mathematics concepts.