Doctoral Leadership Program in Early Childhood Intervention

graduate student

The CT UCEDD has two graduate training opportunities in early childhood intervention:

A Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology through the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education with a concentration in special education-early childhood.

A Post Doctoral Fellowship with a concentration in interdisciplinary early childhood personnel preparation: research and development.

Both opportunities will focus on:

  • Interdisciplinary Training

    Partnerships with other schools and departments within UConn

  • Competency-Based Curricula

    Emphasis on the research base for early childhood intervention for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities and their families

  • Areas of Study

    Personnel preparation, research, scholarship, policy application, and community engagement

  • Program Components

    Graduate coursework, interdisciplinary seminars, supervised internships, supervised and independent research opportunities, and mentorships

  • Internships in Federally Funded Centers

    Opportunities to work in research, training and technical assistance centers, including the UConn UCEDD, Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC), Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and the Center for Behavioral Education and Research (CBER)

Funding is available for eligible full time doctoral students, who are U.S. citizens, including tuition assistance and graduate assistantships. Funding is also available for full time Post Doctoral Fellowships.

Need for Training in ECI

In 2004, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded the Center to Inform Personnel Preparation Policy and Practice in Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education (CIPP) at the University of Connecticut UCEDD. One such study surveyed all state Part C and Part B (619) coordinators. These state coordinators expressed concern about the limited number of professionals who had specialized training in early childhood intervention - Less than half of the state coordinators reported having a qualified work force in early childhood intervention across the disciplines of service providers. When examining professional development systems for those providing services in either Part C of IDEA or Part B 619 preschool programs, it has been reported that most states do not have a comprehensive system in place.

CIPP conducted a study to obtain information about OSEP funded doctoral programs specific to early childhood special education. Only 6 doctoral programs were interdisciplinary with two or more disciplines represented, and this interpretation was operationalized as having students from both disciplines take courses across university programs for each discipline. The doctoral programs had between 3 and 15 full-time faculty affiliated with the program. The majority of faculty was preparing to retire in 10 years.

Leadership Competencies

The Preparation of Leadership Personnel develops and delivers a rigorous program of study that is competency based across four areas of professional training for students who will be prepared for faculty positions in ECI in Special Education. The unique needs of infants and young children and their families and the subsequent complexity of service delivery demands attention to both ECI pedagogy and leadership preparation. As such, both these areas are delineated by competencies.

The first are a set of measurable program competency tasks that preceded DEC recommended practices and originated at the University of Oregon in the ECI program. These have also been used since 1985 by Dr. Bruder in masters and advanced graduate programs in ECI she has directed at VA, NY and CT as funded by 7 personnel preparation grants from OSEP. Approximately, 150 students have completed these competency tasks. Below is an example of one such task.

3. Cultural Diversity

Written summary of interview addressing each of the components; process used to interview the family using effective communication techniques; Written summary must include a reflection on the interview experience.

Interview a family with a child with special needs who has newly migrated or immigrated to the U.S. from a culture different from the participant.
Summarize the interview in writing including:
1) when and why the family immigrated,
2) family supports received in their native country and in the U.S.,
3) additional supports and services wanted by the family,
4) reflection on the issues the family may have because of their cultural heritage, and
5) culturally sensitive intervention strategies

Ph.D. Program in Special Education Competencies

Conceptual Framework for Competencies
                   Conceptual Framework for Competencies

Special Education Doctoral competencies and requirements managed through the UConn Neag School of Education will provide a foundation for doctoral level work covered in the current Doctoral Handbook and specific early childhood intervention competencies are built on the framework pictured here. The competencies have been expanded and grouped under four leadership competency areas: Personnel Preparation, Research Inquiry, Scholarship and Community Engagement through Practice and Policy. Each are designed to provide doctoral students with the opportunity and the support to develop Leadership Competencies that will prepare them to assume leadership roles in the field of ECI and faculty.  The areas are described as follows:

Research Inquiry.  ECI leaders must have the expertise and scholarship necessary to conduct research that is relevant to improving ECI teacher performance, program design, and ultimately enhancing child and family outcomes and readiness for school and eventual post school outcomes. They should understand the logic of research, grasp the passion of scientific inquiry, be well-versed in identifying appropriate research designs, and be able to accurately write, interpret, and communicate research findings. Educational leaders must have the capacity to disseminate research and practices in ways that are accessible to practitioners, administrators, and other consumers of this knowledge.

Personnel Preparation. The program will intentionally support doctoral students in developing personnel preparation competencies related to university teaching and instructional and research supervision. For example, the students have a unique opportunity to develop their university teaching expertise as part of a nationally recognized and innovative five-year teacher certification program in the Neag School of Education. The Integrated Bachelor/Master’s program is based on a horizontal model that prepares teachers to work with children with disabilities or at risk of academic failure in a range of educational settings with a specific focus on urban schools. In addition, students will participate in 3 online courses in ECI offered to advanced graduate students in ECI. The doctoral students will become familiar with the various features of on-line instruction using a Blackboard platform and will implement all activities related to personnel preparation ranging from course development and presentation to student-advising, practicum supervision and student evaluation.

Community Engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. These competencies will ensure that doctoral students are experts in providing concrete, specific solutions to the challenges presented by infants and young children with disabilities and their families. This will occur through advocacy and technical assistance collaborations with local, state and national agencies serving this population.

Scholarship. Doctoral students will also be prepared to participate on a scholarly level with peers and future peers in academia. The competencies in this area will address those skills that will contribute to the ability to be productive faculty member, and it will include, but are not limited to, reviewing articles for professional journals, grants and for conference programs, assisting in the planning of meetings and conferences, presenting at state and national conferences, writing for publication and developing professional development activities for themselves. Students will also serve on committees at the state and national level.

Faculty and Management Plan

The management team will include all five faculty. They will be instrumental to the integrity of the project. The demands of a high quality leadership project demands strict attention to the administrative mechanisms of the project. Dr. Bruder and Dr. Sugai will have primary responsibility for co-managing the project.

Mary Beth Bruder, PhD (Co-PI) is a tenured professor in the Depts. of Pediatrics and Community Medicine in School of Medicine at the University of CT with a joint appointment in the Neag School of Education.

Dr. George Sugai (Co-PI) received his M.Ed. in 1974 and Ph.D. in 1980 at the University of Washington. Currently at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Sugai is Neag Endowed Chair in Behavior Disorders and professor with tenure.

Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at the Puckett Institute, Asheville, NC., and research consultant at the Pappanikou Center. He received his doctorate degree in developmental psychology from George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University and his masters degree in early childhood special education from George Washington University.

Kathleen Hebbeler, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience in research and evaluation of education, health, and social programs for young children and their families. Currently, Dr. Hebbeler directs the Early Childhood Outcomes Center, a 10-year effort to build the capacity of states to report high quality data on outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.

Questions About the Doctoral Program?