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Washington State University
College of Education

Holly N. Whittenburg

Holly Whittenburg standing with hands in pockets

Holly Whittenburg

Assistant Professor
Special Education
Pullman campus
Cleveland Hall 333


Curriculum Vita

ResearchGate || GoogleScholar

Research interests

Dr. Whittenburg’s research focuses on improving employment outcomes for transition-aged students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. Work is an important part of growing up for most young adults, but students with disabilities often face significant barriers to employment. In her work, Dr. Whittenburg examines interventions to teach employment-related skills, investigates approaches to creating more opportunities for inclusive work experiences, and considers how special education and vocational rehabilitation law and policies affect the transition experiences of students with disabilities.

Teaching/Professional interests

Dr. Whittenburg teaches courses in Special Education and Teaching & Learning. Her focus is on making sure educators have the knowledge and skills they need to engage in evidence-informed practice, while also advocating for and providing rigorous inclusive learning experiences to students with disabilities from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Whittenburg is also interested in supporting paraprofessionals, job coaches, and other community-based service providers to deliver high-quality services and supports to individuals with disabilities. Prior to coming to WSU, Dr. Whittenburg worked at the Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center as a research site coordinator on two federally funded grants investigating the effects of the Project SEARCH + Autism Supports program model on outcomes for transition-aged youth with ASD. Before that, she worked for 9 years in schools – first as an elementary and middle school special educator, then as a district-level special education coordinator.

Recent publications

  • Whittenburg, H. N., Taylor, J. P., Thoma, C. A., Pickover, G. S., & Vitullo, V. (in press). A systematic literature review of interventions to improve work-related social skills of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Inclusion.
  • Whittenburg, H. N., Schall, C., Wehman, P., McDonough, J., & DuBois, T. (2020). Helping high-school aged military dependents with autism gain employment through Project SEARCH + ASD Supports. Military Medicine, 185(1), 663-668.
  • Taylor, J. P.,  Whittenburg, H. N., Thoma, C. A., Gokita, T., & Pickover, G. S. (2019). Collaboration to improve employment outcomes for youth with disabilities: Implications of the Pre-ETS components of WIOA on IDEA transition requirements. DADD Online Journal, 6, 38-47.
  • Wehman, P., Schall, C., McDonough, J., Sima, A., Brooke, A., Ham, W., Whittenburg, H., Brooke, V., Avellone, L., & Riehle, E. (2019). Competitive employment for transition-aged youth with significant impact from autism: A multi-site randomized clinical trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(6), 1882-1897.
  • Whittenburg, H. N., Sims, K. A., Wehman, P., & Walther-Thomas, C. (2019). Strategies for developing work experiences for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 42(4), 259-264.
  • Whittenburg, H. N., Cimera, R. E., & Thoma, C. A. (2019). Comparing employment outcomes of young adults with autism: Does postsecondary educational experience matter? Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 32(2), 159-172.
  • Wehman, P., Taylor, J., Brooke, V., Avellone, L., Whittenburg, H., Ham, W., Brooke, A., & Carr, S. (2018). Toward competitive employment for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities: What progress have we made and where do we need to go. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 43(3),131-144.

Educational background

  • Ph.D. (Education, Concentration in Special Education and Disability Leadership), 2020, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • M.Ed. (Educational Leadership), 2011, The College of William and Mary
  • M.A.Ed. (Special Education), 2004, The College of William and Mary
  • B.A. (Sociology), 1997, University of Virginia