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.  

  • 2018 Research Article: Doris Luft Baker, Catherine Richards-Tutor, Anthony Sparks, & Rebecca Canges

    The 2018 Samual A. Kirk Award for an LDRP Research article was given to Doris Luft Baker, Catherine Richards-Tutor, Anthony Sparks, & Rebecca Canges for their outstanding article "Review of Single Subject Research Examining the Effectiveness of Interventions for At‐Risk English Learners."  Their literature review examines 10 single case studies examining the efficacy of interventions targeting English language learners with or at-risk for learning disabilities.  The abstract is listed below:

    We review published single subject design (SSD) studies that examine the effects of interventions for English learners at‐risk or with learning disabilities. Results of our literature search yielded 10 studies, five in reading, one in reading and behavior, and four in mathematics that met our inclusion criteria. Seven studies targeted Spanish‐speaking English learners, and three studies included students who spoke other languages than English and/or English only students. Two studies in mathematics included native language instruction. Six studies included English learners in second grade and above, and one study included high school students. We were able to calculate effect sizes (Hedges g) for eight of the 10 studies. Findings indicated a significant effect of the intervention for 12 of the 18 dependent variables measured. SSD methodology has the potential to help researchers and practitioners better understand what interventions work for English learners, and under what circumstances.

    Baker, D. L., Richards‐Tutor, C., Sparks, A., & Canges, R. (2018). Review of single subject research examining the effectiveness of interventions for at‐risk English learners.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice,  33, 64-74.

  • 2018 Practice Article: Robin F. Schumacher, Madhavi Jayanthi, Russell Gersten, Joseph Dimino, Samantha Spallone, & Kelly S. Haymond

    DLD proudly presents the 2018 Samual A. Kirk Award for an LDRP Practice article to Robin F. Schumacher, Madhavi Jayanthi, Russell Gersten, Joseph Dimino, Samantha Spallone, & Kelly S. Haymond for their work "Using the Number Line to Promote Understanding of Fractions for Struggling Fifth Graders: A Formative Pilot Study."  The article is a pilot study examining a math intervention aimed at helping struggling students improve their understanding of franctions.  The abstract is listed below:

    A formative pilot study of a fractions intervention was conducted to address the intervention's potential for improving fifth‐grade struggling students’ knowledge of fractions, and to identify any logistical or instructional design issues, before scaling up for a randomized control trial. In the first section, we provide details of the formative pilot study and present preliminary data that demonstrate the potential of the intervention. Intervention lessons—adapted from a commercially available program—emphasize consistent use of the number line in conjunction with concrete representations to scaffold learning and facilitate understanding of grade‐level and foundational fractions content. We explain how intervention revisions were guided by the formative evaluation. In the second section, we present key concepts that distinguish understanding fractions principles from understanding whole number principles. These concepts relate to understanding foundations of fractions (e.g., magnitude, equivalence, part‐whole, and measurement) and the four operations. We present these key concepts and show how the fractions intervention addressed them as a guide to practitioners for teaching new and difficult fractions content, as students integrate fractions understanding with their understanding of whole numbers.

    Schumacher, R.F., Jayanthi, M., Gersten, R., Dimino, J., Spallone, S., & Haymond, M.S. (2018). Using the number line to promote understanding of fractions for struggling fifth graders: A formative pilot study. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice,  33, 192-206.