Student and researcher review assistive technology

Evaluation of University of Delaware’s Career and Life Studies Certificate Program (CLSC)

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director, Ximena Uribe-Zarain, Rachel Salinger & Amanda Czik, Project Staff

Funders: University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies; US Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE)

CLSC is a five –year model demonstration project at the University of Delaware intended to develop and implement practices which support access to higher education for students with intellectual disabilities. The University’s Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS) in conjunction with the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS) developed a two year Career and Life Studies Certificate Program funded as a federal Transition Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID). CLSC’s proposed activities include supporting students to participate in a variety of classes and work experiences, providing career and employment services, and using peer mentors (college students without intellectual disabilities) to assist CLSC students to access the college experience both academically and socially.

UD’s CLSC has a goal of developing a model program and providing supports to assist students to reach their long-term goals, but it also has system- level goals:  to collaborate with others in Delaware to establish and deliver comprehensive, inclusive, and customized post-secondary options and promote sustainable, integrated programs across the state.

As one of 27 TPSID model demonstration projects, both local and national evaluations are key features of the CLSC program.

The evaluation plan includes both process (implementation) evaluation and impact evaluation. The process evaluation will inform program improvement efforts and increase the effectiveness of student supports. It will include document analysis, interviews and surveys with current students and their parents The impact evaluation will assess the program’s impact on student successful attainment of employment and independent living by conducting follow-up interviews or surveys with students who have graduated from the program, document analysis and interviews with other stakeholders.

Evaluating the Implementation and Outcomes of RDE Projects

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation, Research in Disabilities Education program

Research in Disabilities Education (RDE) projects are expected to contribute to knowledge about: disability related differences in secondary and post-secondary STEM learning; educational and other experiences that influence student interest, academic performance and retention, degree completion and career choices; and practices for transitioning, retaining, and graduating students with disabilities.

This evaluation looks across the individual RDE studies funded in 2011 to examine overall implementation issues and research effectiveness. Its objectives are to:

1) describe the challenges to and facilitators of research on disabilities education experienced by the projects;

2) compile and synthesize the evidence across the projects of actual or potential influence on the number of students with disabilities completing STEM degrees and entering the U.S. science and engineering workforce;

3) identify unintended outcomes – both positive and negative; and

4) assess the nature and extent of dissemination and application of the results beyond the funded research context.

Evaluation of Healthy Delawareans with Disabilities (HDWD)

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director, Ximena Uribe-Zarain, Project Staff

Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies conducts the Healthy Delawareans with Disabilities project to develop and strengthen health-related disabilities programs in Delaware. This project intends to improve the health of people with disabilities and prevent secondary health conditions by assessing, planning and implementing strategies to create a system that is more inclusive of people with disabilities within the state of Delaware.

The evaluation will include both process and outcome components. To evaluate the process (implementation) of the program, program records will be reviewed, surveillance data will be analyzed and program activities will be interviewed. As part of the outcome evaluation, changes in the prevalence of chronic health conditions and disparities in access to services and screenings of people with disabilities will be tracked. Additionally, program staff, clients and other relevant parties will be surveyed and interviewed to assess whether or not program activities are having their intended impact.

Evaluation of the Chemical Sciences Leadership Institute (CSLI) Research Experience for Undergraduates

Ximena Uribe-Zarain, Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation

DERDC is conducting an evaluation of University of Delaware’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program awarded to the CSLI, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is a three year program designed to provide research experience to students with disabilities and the support necessary to facilitate advanced training in the sciences. The 8-week summer experience  includes: (1) a research experience in which students gain research experience under the direction of a faculty advisor and assistance from a graduate student, (2) a graduate school preparatory workshop which advises students on preparing application materials, and (3) CSLI group meetings in which the students meet as a group with a faculty advisor to discuss their research experiences. Educational field trips are also part of the program to further introduce students to current scientific research.

The evaluation focuses on REU students’ and their faculty advisors’ experiences with the program, specifically the extent to which the program environment is conducive to students’ success and integration, the extent to which necessary accommodations were in place, and students’ and advisors’ assessments of the utility of various elements of the program infrastructure.