Equity in Action

Equity in Action

Equity in Action develops culturally responsive practices to support the academic and behavioral needs of students with disabilities.

We prepare special education teachers to work with all students by using evidence-based practices, culturally responsive teaching, and trauma-informed care.

Sarah Hurwitz featured on DatabasED Podcast

Current Projects

Recent worldwide protests, triggered by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, underscore the pervasive racism-related violence inflicted on the African-American community. Both historical and race-based trauma can have a direct impact on an individual's social, emotional, and academic learning (Carter, 2007). As a response to these circumstances, this project addresses the lack of cultural-mediated instruction and insufficient preparation of teacher candidates (i.e., pre-service teachers) in teaching students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted educational access for young students, especially students with disabilities. Delayed enrollment into special education, dropped services, and postponed Kindergarten entry caused many to miss out on the early intervention and early school-aged services to which they were entitled. Impacts were exacerbated among communities that were underserved during the pandemic, thus students with disabilities from minoritized and poor backgrounds may require specialized support to help them to rebound academically and behaviorally as they (re)enter school.

As a provision within the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004, any student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be considered for support through the use of Assistive Technology (AT) (IDEA, 2004). Despite the growing need for teacher competence in assistive technology, many teachers believe that implementing AT in their instruction is complicated (Dissinger, 2003). By engaging preservice teachers enrolled at Indiana University, the aim of this project is to determine (a) prior knowledge and self-efficacy levels in the area of Assistive Technology, (b) the effectiveness of Assistive Technology workshops, and (c) the impact of online Assistive Technology modules.

Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention Poster

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Definitions of Terms

What is Culturally Responsive Pedagogy?

Culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) is defined as a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including individual cultural attributes in all facets of learning (Ladson-Billings, 1994).

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework that offers flexibility for teachers to make instructional decisions for their students (Kieran and Anderson, 2019).

What is Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)?

Is an approach that integrates the four key elements including the realization of the impact of the trauma, recognizing the symptoms of the trauma, responding to the trauma, and resisting re-traumatization (Maynard et al., 2019).

Team Members

FACULTY
Sarah Hurwitz

Sarah Hurwitz, PhD

Sarah Hurwitz is an Associate Professor in the Special Education Program at Indiana University. Dr. Hurwitz studies academic and behavioral interventions for students with disabilities, with particular interest in disproportionality in school discipline and how special education services can support student growth.
Email: shurwitz@iu.edu

Tina O'Neal

Tina O'Neal, PhD

Currently Dr. O'Neal's teaching includes urban education undergraduate and graduate courses including technology applications, intro to special education, and classroom management and positive behavior support. Her research focuses on teacher perceptions and attitudes toward inclusive teaching methods in urban settings. She is particularly interested in teacher perception, knowledge, and behaviors toward the usability and implementation of assistive technology, culturally responsive teaching practices, and trauma-informed care education practices in urban settings.
Email: tsoneal@iu.edu

GRADUATE STUDENTS
Bria Davis

Bria Davis

Bria Davis is a Learning & Developmental Sciences doctoral candidate, with a minor in Special Education at Indiana University. Bria’s research interests involve 1) designing effective and inclusive multimodal learning environments for diverse learners, and 2) exploring the learning processes related to educators adapting and utilizing tools to meet students’ learning needs within various settings.

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Morgan Vickery

Morgan Vickery
Morgan Vickery is a graduate student in Learning Sciences.

Courtney Orr

Courtney Orr

Courtney Orr is a doctoral student in Special Education.

Brenda Brannigan

Brenda Brannigan

Brenda Brannigan, Doctoral student, has 18 years experience as a special educator across contexts including secondary, elementary, mild and intensive programs, as well as across rural, urban and reservation settings. Presently, she is working with Dr. Gretchen Butera at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her areas of interest include equity education; language and communication; and universally inclusive educational and community contexts; assistive technology.

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Fatimah Alhaddad

Fatimah Alhaddad is a current Ph.D. student in the Special Education Program at Indiana University with a minor in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Fatimah’s research interests include 1) evidence-based behavioral and academic interventions for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 2) Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), and 3) trauma-informed care practices in schools for students with EBD.

Laila Aljumah

Laila Aljumah

Laila Aljumah is a doctoral student in Special Education, with a minor in Health Behavior at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research interests include exploring behavioral interventions used for individuals with ADHD and investigating their impacts on academic performance. Laila also is interested in involving families of children with disabilities in their child’s education. Currently, Laila is teaching with a faculty member a special education course “K205” and she is a tutoring instructor with the Arabic Flagship Program at Indiana University.

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Norah Alharbi

Norah Alharbi is a doctoral student in Special Education.

Margaret Mwingira

Margaret Mwingira

Margaret Mwingira, a PhD student in the Special Education Program. Her research interests are in autism and teacher education in diverse learning classrooms where English is not the medium of instruction. She is currently researching the impact of teacher preparation programs on preservice teaching and learning experiences in diverse learning settings alongside parents’ communication interventions with their children with autism who receive education in languages not spoken at home.

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