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Doctoral student receives $3K dissertation grant

Kathryn Kao

January 7, 2016

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School psychology doctoral student Leslie Blevins recently received the Fall 2015 Dissertation Grant from the Society for the Study of School Psychology (SSSP) to fund the pilot phase of her dissertation project, "Facilitating Teachers' Choice of Evidence-Based Practices by Providing Internet-Based Video Modeling."

The central purpose of the grant is to promote research training in the field of school psychology and to support doctoral students at the beginning of their research careers. Blevins will receive $3,727 to fund her study on how video modeling influences the selection of evidence-based interventions in teachers.

"SSSP is made up of really amazing researchers and so winning the grant is a huge honor," said Blevins. "But regardless if I had won it or not, I was just really excited to receive any kind of feedback from the organization."

For her study, Blevins will use a single-case design and a vignette of sample data to intervene on each participant's selection of online validation tools for evidence-based practices. All eight teacher participants will then record their intervention and hopefully a consistent pattern will develop, she said.

"I think we will see an improvement in the criteria as far as what websites are being chosen," she said. "I can see how teachers might learn about new resources through this process and start using them within their classrooms to identify new interventions that might be helpful."

Since more and more teachers are planning their lessons using online video models, Blevins is interested in examining what materials they are most responsive to and how researchers can help close the research-to-practice gap. Video modeling is part of a broader category of video-based instruction, which has a strong research base for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Additionally, Blevins will look at how professional development resources can be presented online for teachers in a more accessible manner. Doing so may encourage educators to choose websites that contain more rigorous validation criteria, she said.

"One of the big things that I found in my research about teachers and their opinions of research is that they don't have access to research-based practices, and they don't have time to research that every single day," she said. "Also, they can't apply it because they don't see how something in an article that is so different from their classroom can be applied. As researchers, we have to start thinking about using our research in a way that's truly applicable to teachers, or our research isn't going to actually change society."

Blevins will graduate from the University of Georgia College of Education in 2017 with a doctoral degree in school psychology. She received her master's degree in school psychology from the College in 2015 and is currently working as a graduate student therapist at the UGA Applied Behavior Analysis Clinic.