Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Warner School wins $800,000 research grant

Warner School wins $800,000 research grant

The University of Rochester has won an $800,000 grant that will be used to help study potential barriers preventing students with learning disabilities from going into science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The grant from the National Science Foundation will fund work by a team headed by Samantha Daley, assistant professor in counseling and human development at UR’s Warner School of Education. The award was announced Tuesday, March 6, by U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport.

Daley said the grant will fund two focus areas. The first will look at attitudes of middle school and high school students with learning disabilities toward classes or careers in STEM fields. Students with learning disabilities, including issues such as dyslexia, constitute the largest group among students receiving special education services, Daley said.

The second focus of the study will try to identify classroom environments that are likely to support or encourage students with learning disabilities to go into further STEM study or careers.

With other groups that are underrepresented in STEM, Daley said, “differences in whether they stay in science are not just about academic performance, but they’re also about choices and motivation and whether they can see themselves being successful in science fields and careers.”

Previous study has suggested the barriers are complex.

“Usually we focus pretty exclusively on improving academic skills, which is important, but that’s not everything that shapes a students’ goals or academic careers and trajectory,” Daley said.

“Some of it is that we need to improve academic skills. A lot of students with learning disabilities in particular are below their peers in basic reading and math skills. Also, there are some signs that there are lower expectations that really shape what courses students with disabilities are enrolled in, and those really shape future outcomes,” Daley said.

The schools where the research will be carried out have not been finalized yet, but Daley said interested families and schools can contact her to be considered for participation in the study. She can be reached by emailing [email protected].

Daley said national statistics suggest 8 percent of people with all kinds of disabilities work in STEM fields, but 12 to 15 percent of the population have disabilities. Just 6 percent of people with disabilities hold doctorates in science or engineering, she said.

The grant will pay for research to be conducted over five years, starting May 1.

“I congratulate the University of Rochester on receiving this federal award,” Slaughter said in announcing the grant. “This funding will help ensure that students with learning disabilities get the support they need to enter into and ultimately succeed in careers in the growing STEM fields. I’m proud that our region is playing a leading role in training educators so all our students can fulfill their potential.”

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275