Outstanding Doctoral Research Award

Outstanding Doctoral Research Award Winner


The Division for Learning Disabilities’ Research Committee is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award: Jessica M. Namkung, who received her PhD in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in 2014 (Lynn Fuchs, Chair) and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany. Dr. Namkung’s study, Cognitive Predictors of Calculations and Number Line Estimation with Whole Numbers and Fractions (see abstract below), was selected from a field of excellent applicants as the most outstanding doctoral-level research in the field of learning disabilities. Dr. Namkung will receive a $500 cash award, $500 toward travel to the CEC conference in San Diego to receive her award, a free one-year membership in CEC and DLD, an opportunity to present the research at the CEC Annual Convention, and invitation to submit the research in the division journal, Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. Congratulations Dr. Namkung!



The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive predictors of calculations and number line estimation with whole numbers and fractions. At-risk 4th-grade students (N = 139) were assessed on 7 domain-general abilities and incoming calculation skill at the start of 4th grade. Then, they were assessed on whole-number and fraction calculation and number line estimation measures at the end of 4th grade. Structural equation modeling and path analysis indicated that processing speed, attentive behavior, and incoming calculation skill were significant predictors of whole-number calculations whereas language, in addition to processing speed and attentive behavior, significantly predicted fraction calculations. For number line estimation, nonverbal reasoning significantly predicted both whole-number and fraction outcome, with numerical working memory predicting whole-number number line estimation and language predicting fraction number line estimation. Findings are discussed in terms of distinctions between whole-number and fraction development and between calculations and number line learning.