Kimberly McFadden Receives Hammill Institute Doctoral Fellowship

McFadden's research focuses on word reading intervention for students with reading difficulty in the upper grades.

Special Education doctoral student Kimberly McFadden has received a competitive Hammill Institute on Disabilities Doctoral Fellowship.

Esther R. Lindström, assistant professor of special education who serves as McFadden’s faculty advisor, said, “Kim was nominated in recognition of her research interests supporting secondary students with reading difficulties and her emerging leadership in special education and teacher preparation.”

Specifically, her research focuses on word reading intervention for students with reading difficulty in the upper grades.

Kimberly McFadden

Kimberly McFadden

“As a former middle and high school special education teacher, I found that many of my students had decoding difficulty,” McFadden explained. “However, the research addressing how to teach decoding skills in the upper grades was very limited at the time.”

When McFadden enrolled in the Special Education Ph.D. program at Lehigh, these experiences as a practitioner informed her research focus.

Her qualifying project is a systematic review of word reading interventions for students with reading difficulty in Grades 4-12.

“The Lehigh University Alumni Association was incredibly supportive of my project, and their contributions to my crowdfunding campaign last spring made this work possible,” McFadden added.

The results of her study indicate that many word reading intervention studies report a positive effect on reading outcomes, but additional work is needed to maximize efficacy and to investigate the social validity of such interventions.

She will propose her dissertation in the fall, building on her qualifying project. McFadden plans to recruit a national sample of secondary special education teachers and investigate their knowledge and perceptions of word reading interventions for their students with reading difficulty.

The Hammill Institute on Disabilities Doctoral Fellowship will enable me to continue my research, and I am incredibly grateful for their support.

Kimberly McFadden

Housed within the College of Education (COE), the Special Education program takes a person-centered approach to education and the inclusion of all people with disabilities in school and society. The program offers master’s and doctoral degrees. Learn more about the COE’s Special Education program.

The Hammill Institute on Disabilities awards the Hammill Institute on Disabilities Doctoral Fellowship for research that furthers the Institute’s charitable mission. The Fellowship provides financial assistance to students enrolled in a doctoral program, either full or part time. Learn more about the Hammill Institute on Disabilities.

Story by Beth Brew

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