Dean’s grant supports a study in academic coaching of TCIO students

The art of the possible: Developing new teachers’ pedagogies of possibility for inclusion through think college academic coaching

Can K–12 students in special education programs aspire to go to college? Will their teachers have the skills to support them to do so?

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence has awarded Assistant Professor Molly Siuty a grant to explore academic coaching in the Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO), PSU’s groundbreaking program that offers a four-year University experience to 18–21-year-olds with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Siuty is the cohort leader of the Secondary Dual Educator Program (SDEP), a program unique to PSU that offers a dual teaching license in special education and another subject area, with a focus on inclusion. PSU students in SDEP are also coaches in the TCIO program.

TCIO offers students with modified high school diplomas the opportunity to attend college on PSU campus with their peers. It is the only program for students with intellectual disabilities in Oregon and will enroll 35 students over the five-year term of the TCIO grant.

The purpose of this initial investigation is to explore how the experience of academic coaching through the TCIO program prepares teacher candidates for inclusivity in their classrooms after graduation. The grant will give Siuty an opportunity to collect and analyze the data for a larger grant proposal that will further this research. Suity, who describes the work as “pedagogy of possibility,” plans to follow up with last year’s SDEP graduates to learn more about how last year’s coaching experience shaped their work as inclusive educators this year.

Students in TCIO come from the Portland Public Schools Transition Program, which is a likely setting for the SDEP graduates. “One of the barriers to inclusion for our teacher candidates is a lack of experience with seeing this work in action,” Siuty said.  “At least now with the presence of TCIO at PSU, we are showing professors and teacher candidates what’s possible.”

Students with intellectual disabilities are often segregated in K–12 schools. Siuty reminds us that inclusion is powerful. If we want an inclusive society, we have to include all individuals at all levels in the K–16 school system.

This is one of a 4-part series of projects funded by the 2018 Dean’s Fund for Excellence. For more information or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, or any other GSE fund, please contact Scott Shlaes,, or call 503-725-4789.

NEXT: Learning to speak up about math

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