Senior Kristen Mueller Presents at New York State Council for Exceptional Children

Independent Study Leads Marist College Student to Annual Education Meeting

Marist Senior Kristen Mueller at New York State Council for Exceptional ChildrenSenior Kristen Mueller presented her poster “Supplementing Text with Graphics to Promote Vocabulary Acquisition in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners” at the annual meeting of the New York State Council for Exceptional Children.  Kristen’s poster was based on her two-semester independent study working with a second grade boy with learning disabilities who was also an English language learner. 

The professional literature on vocabulary acquisition techniques for English language learners and for students with disabilities does not include much research on strategies for students who belong to both populations. Kristen investigated the use of software that supports text with graphics to help her student, who was struggling to meet his IEP goals for vocabulary development and to participate actively in general education classroom instruction. The student’s teacher selected the target terms and concepts, taking them from the Common Core State Standards-based curriculum taught to all children. Kristen created customized instructional materials in which pictorial cues supported the text, using the program SymWriter. Her poster presented the tutoring protocol and the resulting data, which demonstrated that supporting text with software-generated graphics has a positive effect on vocabulary acquisition, when measured both at the time of instruction and a few days later.

Kristen’s independent study was supervised by Drs. Jan Stivers and Katherine Trela of the Education Department. 

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