The Bresnahan-Halstead Center is committed to work for the advancement of knowledge and quality services for people with disabilities through research, professional development, partnership/technical assistance, and scholarships.  As part of this mission, the Center is committed to assisting faculty in the School of Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado with research projects aligned with the mission in the form of student stipends.  Funding is available to support a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) for up to 8 hours of work per week on the project as well as one-half the costs of tuition and fees for that student for up to two semesters.

Communication Skills Training for Families of Children with Autism in the Natural Environment of the Home

The Bresnahan-Halstead Center supported research study of Dr. Lewis Jackson and Rehab Alzayer in which they analyzed the outcomes of using Pivotal Response Treatment, a framework for communication skills instruction that relies on augmenting the natural relationships and activities of the home environment, with three families.  Primary measures of this study varied somewhat according to each participant’s skill levels and their home situations, but the common denominators were increased use of labeling and descriptive language in general, and increases in question-asking behaviors on the part of the young children with Autism.

A Convergent Validity Study of the Behavioral and Emotional Screener

The focus of this study was to provide schools and their teachers with evidence of effective and efficient tools that can be used in an effort to identify the behavioral strengths and needs of students earlier, allowing increased opportunity for informed early intervention services for students. This study conducted research on the effectiveness/efficiency of two screening tools for students who are at-risk EBD, the Behavioral and Emotional Screener (BES) and the Social Skills Improvement System (SSiS), by providing training on their administration to 45 elementary teachers from two school districts. These teachers then administered two assessments each to approximately 700 students not currently identified and receiving service for a SED, and they completed a brief demographic survey on their experiences related to SED and/or behavior management. The research analysis not only provided statistical support of the effectiveness of these assessment tools, but also the immediate positive impact on these practitioners and the students with whom they work by providing early intervention services to students in an efficient manner.

Effects of Instructional Rubrics on the Writing Quality of Secondary Students with and without Disabilities

This research study is investigating the writing quality of students with disabilities after an instructional intervention. Students with disabilities will be involved in written expression strategy instruction through the application of instructional rubrics in inclusive high school classrooms. The study will test the efficacy of using instructional rubrics for teaching students with cognitive disabilities by comparing their writing performance as affected by either teaching or providing a rubric to students prior to a written expression assignment.

Instructions for applying for an assistantship: