Special Education doctoral candidate Kathryn Sheridan-Stiefel was awarded a graduate student fellowship from the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. In addition to the aid it will give Kathryn in continuing her research, it also comes with a $1,500 award.

The Foley fellowships are open to currently enrolled WSU graduate students, in any discipline. The fellowships are aimed at students who are in the later stages of their graduate education, to enable completion of research projects. The summer fellowships will be awarded to graduate students that apply to at least one of the following categories:

  • Conducting research in the area of just and sustainable societies and policies.
  • Seeking to enhance their public policy research skills and pursue a research agenda focusing on major policy issues.
  • Conducting research in the area of political institutions and democracy.
Kathryn’s research

Kathryn said she was “extremely grateful for the support to complete this research project!”

We had the chance to sit down with her and ask her about some of the specifics.

We had the chance to sit down with Kathryn and ask her some questions about the fellowship and what it will help her do.

Question: What is the focus of your research?

Answer: My research focuses on evidence-based practices for increasing and optimizing the inclusion of students with intellectual and developmental (IDD) disabilities in both K-12 and postsecondary education settings. Because students with these types of disabilities are the most likely to receive their education in a segregated setting, my research also focuses on how special education and disability policy (such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Every Student Succeeds Act) currently contribute to the continued exclusion of children with complex support needs in community schools. At this time, the research literature that examines the implementation, outcomes and perceptions of special education policy very rarely considers the viewpoints of students with IDD–whose lived experience is integral to understanding how inclusive systems can be improved.

Question: How will the fellowship help you in your research?

Answer: The Foley Fellowship will help me complete a retrospective interpretive phenomenological analysis that allows for young adults with disabilities to provide critical insight regarding how special education policy is implemented and perceived by students for whom these policies are designed.

Question: Specifically, what part of the fellowship will help with what components of the research?

Answer: The fellowship will allow me to purchase transcription software, equipment, and compensation gifts for 10-12 participants, as well as provide compensation for additional coders. These tools and resources will allow for me to complete a comprehensive and rigorous study within an efficient timeframe. The use of transcription software and equipment will provide me with the tools to record and transcribe interviews, becoming fully immersed in the data. Additionally, funds for compensation gifts and hiring additional coders will allow me to work with and appropriately compensate a team of participants and co-researchers.

The fellowship is available thanks to the generous gifts of Scott and Betty Lukins, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation, and Alice O. Rice.