Samuel A. Kirk Awards Winners

The Kirk Award is named after Samuel A. Kirk, one of the United State’s foremost leaders in special education and, especially in the field of learning disabilities. This award is overseen by DLD's Publications Committee, is given occasionally, and recognizes excellence in professional journal articles that have been published in Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. For more information, please contact us

  • 2017 Research Article: Christine A. Espin, Miya Miura Wayman, Stanley L. Deno, Kristen L. McMaster, & Mark de Rooij

    The recipients of the 2017 Samual A. Kirk Award for an LDRP research article are Christine A. Espin, Miya Miura Wayman, Stanley L. Deno, Kristen L. McMaster, and Mark de Rooij.  Their article "Data-Based Decision-Making: Developing a Method for Capturing Teachers' Understanding of CBM Graphs" is an excellent contribution to the literature on teachers' conceptualization, use, and interpretation of Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) graphs to inform their practice.  The abstract for the article is below:

    In this special issue, we explore the decision-making aspect of data-based decision-making.  The articles in the issue address a wide range of research questions, designs, methods, and analyses, but all focus on data-based decision-making for students with learning difficulties.  In this first article, we introduce the topic of data-based decision-making and provide an overview of the special issue.  We then describe a small, exploratory study designed to develop a method for studying teachers' understanding and interpretation of Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) graphs.  Specifically, we examine whether think-alouds scored for coherence, specificity, reflectivity, and accuracy differentiate teachers with more or elss understanding of CBM data.  We conclude the article by discussing the importance of, and the need for, research on teachers' understanding, interpretation, and use of data for instructional decision-making.

    Espin, C.A., Wayman, M.M., Deno, S.L., McMaster, K.L., & de Rooij, M. (2017). Data-based decision-making: Developing            a method for capturing teachers' understanding of CBM graphs.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(1),              8- 21. doi: 10.1111/ldrp.12123

  • 2017 Practice Article: Margaret E. King-Sears, Anya S. Evmenova, & Todd M. Johnson

    The 2017 Samual A. Kirk Award for an LDRP Practice article was given to Margaret E. King-Sears, Anya S. Evmenova, & Todd M. Johnson for their outstanding article "Using Technology for Accessible Chemistry Homework for High School Students with and without Learning Disabilities."  Their work describes an action research study in which students were taught to use technology-enhanced worksheets to guide studying homework completion and studying practices.  The abstract can be found below:

    High school students with and without learning disabilities in two chemistry classess accessed technology-enhanced worksheets, called Pencasts, when completing homework assignments.  In this action research study, feedback from students was gathered via questionnaires and interviews.  Students most frequently used Pencasts to figure out how to solve homework problems, and all students expressed satisfaction with using Pencasts.  Students shared other ways they used Pencasts, such as studying for chemistry tests, and shared how they could benefit if Pencasts were available in other classes.  According ot hte teacher, students with and without disabilities completed the majority of homework when Pencasts were avaialble, and almost all students earned "A" grades on homework.  Teacher reflections about Pencasts, implications for practice, and future research are described.

    King-Sears, M.E., Evmenova, A.S., & Johnson, T.M.  (2017). Using technology for accessible chemistry homework for                 high school students with and without Learning Disabilities.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(2), 121-             231. doi: 10.1111/ldrp.12129

  • 2010: Jean B. Schumaker and Donald D. Deshler

    Kirk award image

    In 2010 the S. A. Kirk Award was given to Jean B. Schumaker and Donald D. Deshler in honor of their outstanding contribution to the literature on learning disabilities with the article, "Adolescents with Learning Disabilities as Writers: Are We Selling Them Short?" In their article, Professors Schumaker and Deshler recount the extensive work spanning more than three decades as they sought to develop ways to help adolescents with learning disabilities succeed in schools and life. The abstract for the article is as follows:


    This article chronicles the evolution of a programmatic line of research on strategic writing instruction for adolescents with learning disabilities (LD) conducted by staff and affiliates of the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. The goal associated with this research is that students with LD learn the writing skills that they need to succeed in high school and beyond and that their skills are comparable to the skills of their peers. Individual studies have shown that adolescents with LD can master a given writing strategy and can apply that strategy to novel prompts and in general education classes. Moreover, they can learn simple writing strategies from computerized programs. They can also maintain use of a writing strategy over time. When students learn several writing strategies, their scores on standardized tests improve, and their writing competency is comparable to that of peers. Studies have also shown that teachers can teach the writing strategies and achieve successful results. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that students with LD receive the instruction under conditions where they have multiple opportunities to reach mastery on each skill and receive individualized feedback on practice attempts. Overall, the research has shown that adolescents with LD can learn complex writing skills such as planning, writing, and editing multiparagraph themes; can apply these skills to tasks that are assigned in required general education courses; and can be successful in those courses.

    Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (2009). Adolescents with learning disabilities as writers: Are we selling them short? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 24, 81-92.