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Department of Special Education Postdoctoral Intervention ResearchTraining Program


The field of special education cannot progress in meeting the challenges that face those with disabilities without high-quality intervention research, research that can impact practice. The need for more high-quality, rigorous intervention research in special education, as in the education research community in general, has been well established. Currently, however, there exists a significant shortage of well-trained doctoral-level researchers available to meet the need for high-quality research in the field of special education. Further, there is a need within the special education research community for the development of more researchers who are able to conduct research to determine “what works.” This form of research requires posing causal questions and the use of causal designs. Further, it requires knowledge of how to build a programmatic line of research that will have significant impact on practice.

Our objective is to train 4 postdoctoral professionals in special education who will be (1) committed to careers in intervention research of the highest quality in the field of special education, (2) strongly prepared in the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of rigorous, high-quality intervention research, (3) able to use state-of-the-art design methodology and statistical methods, (4) able to develop new interventions and approaches grounded in the science of learning, and (5) able to submit competitive applications to IES competitions. Further, we are strongly committed to aggressively recruiting highly motivated and capable postdoctoral fellows, and will aggressively seek and recruit members of underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities. Meeting our objectives will directly address the need for building capacity in intervention research in special education and for the conduct of high-quality, rigorous intervention research that will have a significant impact on the lives of those with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who work with them.

Fellows in the Postdoctoral Intervention Research Training Program in Special Education will work closely with faculty in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Faculty in this department are nationally recognized as leaders in intervention research in special education. Further, in a four year study of education schools (Levine, 2007), the doctoral program in special education at Vanderbilt University was identified as a model, excellent program, one that met all criteria for educating researchers. Postdoctoral fellows in our training program will be prepared to make a difference in intervention research though (1) intensive mentoring by appropriate faculty members and the Project Director, Karen R. Harris, (2) additional rigorous training in research methods and the science of learning beyond that received in their doctoral programs and tailored to their individual interests in intervention, (3) concentrated experiences in one or more intervention research programs currently funded by IES, (4) participation in an Intervention Research Literacy Reading Group that will allow intense study of critical works on intervention research, and (5) experience in writing IES research proposals as well as writing for publication, and presenting at research conferences. Fellows will be strongly prepared to make a difference in our field.


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