ATLANTA—Georgia State University assistant professors Claire Donehower and Sarah Hansen have received a five-year, $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support social-communication learning for elementary-aged students with intellectual disabilities.
Donehower and Hansen will work with Trey Vasquez from the University of Central Florida and Rob Pennington from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Project Social Code, which is designed to help teachers integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and social skills instruction for learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (ID).
The research team will create a curriculum and a professional development program to give teachers the training and materials they need to encourage learning in STEM areas, coding and social skills development.
“Social-communication skills are a core deficit for learners with ASD and ID. It is critical that educators be prepared to address this need using high-quality and evidence-based instructional practices,” Donehower said. “Additionally, the number of job opportunities in STEM fields is steadily increasing, making it an important area to incorporate into student learning starting in elementary school.”