Research Archive

12th Annual UC SPEDDR Conference

UC SPEDDR Student Advisory Council

On January 19 and 20, 2018, doctoral students in special education at UCR joined students and professors from eight UC campuses for the 12th annual student-run University of California Collaborative for Research on Special Education, Disabilities, and Developmental Risk (SPEDDR) conference, held at UC-Davis.  

This conference is one of several activities of the University of California Collaborative for Research on Special Education, Disabilities, and Developmental Risk (SPEDDR), founded in 2005 by UCSB professor Michael Gerber and UCR professors H. Lee Swanson and Rollanda O’Connor, which links faculty and doctoral students with shared research interests across the UC system.  

As the organization spread to eight of the UC campuses, faculty routinely brought their students along to the twice-yearly meetings and students soon formed their own organization, the Doctoral Student Advisory Committee, which now runs the conference annually on their own (with just a little help from faculty mentors).

Participating UCR students included Yasamine Bolourian, Megan Ledoux, Juan Chen, and Elizabeth Isralowitz.  

Dr. Rollanda O’Connor, center, with UCR students Juan Chan & Megan Ledoux.

In addition to attending the conference, faculty from seven of the UC campuses (Riverside, Davis, Los Angeles, Merced, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Francisco) discussed their current research and findings, primarily in the areas of learning disabilities and autism, with Richard Gifford from the California Department of Education.  

The SPEDDR Student Conference is supported partially through the generous endowment of the Eady/Hendrick fund to the GSOE. 

Check out UCSPEDDR’s Facebook page here.

Dr. Margaret Nash’s Anthology Introduces New Voices on the History of Women in Higher Education


It’s been over 30 years since historian Barbara Solomon published In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education, one of the few comprehensive texts that looks at the role of women in higher education. Since then, subsequent accounts of women in higher education have largely been “an ‘add-in’ to the grand narrative of higher education,” explains Margaret Nash, a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at UC Riverside.

Inspired by this, and the lack of comprehensive scholarship that she, herself, has been able draw on for the courses she teaches at UC Riverside, Nash has released Women’s Higher Education in the United States: New Historical Perspectives, a collection of new viewpoints on women’s education from the early 19th century through the 1970s.

“So much research has been done since Barbara Solomon’s book was published in 1985, and Palgrave series editors William J. Reese and John Rury thought it was time for a new volume that brought together some of the new directions the field has taken since then. I was honored to take on the project,” said Nash.

The book contains 12 different essays, including “From Haskell to Hawaii: One American Indian Woman’s Educational Journey” authored by UC Riverside Ph.D. candidate Jennifer Talerico-Brown. Nash considered many factors when choosing authors for the various chapters, including the diversity of voices and experiences – racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, as well as roles: students, faculty, and administrators.

Whereas earlier research on women in higher education tends to ask about access, such as when were women allowed to attend college, Women’s Higher Education in the United States, poses different questions. “Histories of education usually focus on, understandably, people who receive or offer that education, and most of the chapters in this book do that, too. But there also are important stories to uncover in who is left out: who does not get formal education, and why? One of the chapters focuses on antebellum African American women who protested their exclusion from education,” explains Nash.

The volume also poses questions about power relations in higher education. For any time and place, what is the nature of the power that particular women have, as students, instructors, staff, or as President? How do particular women attempt to free or constrain other women through education? What understanding of “woman” is perpetuated by colleges and universities, and how do LGBTQs negotiate that definition? What disciplinary measures are being used to police the boundaries of acceptability?

By uncovering these stories, Nash’s anthology demonstrates how an examination of the history of women’s education can transform our understanding of educational institutions and processes more generally.

Dr. Jan Blacher’s New Research Looks at Stress Levels of Mothers of Children with Autism

UCR Today recently highlighted new research from autism expert Jan Blacher, a distinguished professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside, which suggests a positive outlook can mitigate the psychological effects of parenting a child with autism:

In a study published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Blacher and her research partner Bruce L. Baker, found that mothers of teenagers with ASD or ID reported higher levels of stress and other negative psychological symptoms than mothers of teenagers with typical development. Those levels climbed even higher when teenagers with ASD or ID also showed signs of clinical-level disruptive behavior disorders.

“It’s in the face of stress when optimism really becomes important,” Blacher said. “A mom that has a high level of optimism is going to be able to better weather stress and be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead.”

Read more about the findings in UCR Today’s full piece here.