Jodee Prudente, a doctoral student at the College of Education and Human Development and Dean of Students at Marvin Picollo Elementary School, has been awarded the opportunity to join the 14th Cohort of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research Doctoral Student Scholars through an internationally competitive application process. The cohort will allow Prudente to expand her research and connect with other doctoral students advancing the field of special education.
“This is considered to be a highly competitive process,” said MaryAnn Demchak, professor of special education and disability studies at the College. “Not everybody who’s nominated is selected. They have a selection committee that does a blind review process, and they say that the blind review is to judge the quality of the student’s research and the capacity of the student to gain from the experience as well as to contribute to the cohort.”
Prudente’s research will look at new ways to train teachers on how to teach the paraprofessionals working with them and their students with disabilities. Prudente aims to bring her extensive experience as an educator in classrooms and schools to her advantage throughout her future projects by helping to close the gap that exists between research and active practitioners in the field.
“I come at all my research with that lens, knowing what it’s like to be in the classroom, knowing the things that I’ve struggled with as a teacher, as a supervisor of paraprofessionals,” Prudente said. “I utilize that to guide me in what I want to look at further and how do I want to dig deeper in the research to show what works in the classroom. I also know that teachers are not real open to things that are not from the classroom.
“They’re not into things that are done in clinics. They’re not open to research that’s done outside of the field. They want to see that it works in the classroom. They want to see that somebody got into that really hard place that we come from and showed that it will work.”
The doctoral student cohort program aims to help support any research that aids teaching practices for gifted students or students with disabilities. Every year, the program invites doctoral student scholars to engage in discussions with leading researchers in the field, offering connections to other doctoral student scholars through access to exclusive seminars on cutting-edge special education research.
In the future, Prudente aims to use this opportunity and others throughout her career and research to contribute to the field of teaching children with intellectual or severe disabilities.