Since 1978, when we received the grant that established the Institute for Research in Learning Disabilities (IRLD), we have conducted research designed to develop ways to help students meet the demands of life, not just in school but after they leave school as well. Our overriding goal has been to develop an integrated model to address many of the needs of diverse learners. Out of this effort, the Strategic Instruction ModelTM (SIMTM) has evolved as a comprehensive approach to adolescent literacy.
SIM, the foundational research upon which the KUCRL was built, promotes effective teaching and learning of critical content in schools. It encompasses two kinds of interventions to address the gap between what students are expected to do and what students are able to do.
- Teacher-focused interventions—Content Enhancement Routines—are sets of teaching practices that help teachers organize and present critical information in such a way that students identify, organize, comprehend, and recall it. We have developed 14 routines and associated supporting materials for teachers.
- Student-focused interventions—Learning Strategies—are designed to provide the skills and strategies students need to learn content. We have developed more than 40 interventions, including strategies for reading, writing, studying and remembering information, interacting with others, motivation, and mathematics.
Our research confirms that quality teaching materials greatly enhance teachers’ ability to provide quality instruction in their classrooms. Our long-standing commitment to and investment in developing these instructional supports—teacher manuals, student learning sheets, scoring rubrics, and technology supports—underscore the importance we place on this aspect of our work. In addition, the KUCRL supports an extensive network of dedicated professionals who share our values and goals and who take the primary responsibility for promoting SIM products and teaching methods. This network, the International Professional Development Network (IPDN), consists of more than 2,000 individuals who offer workshops, inservice training, coaching, and support for state initiatives across the country and around the world.
KUCRL has grown to encompass seven research teams with varying yet complementary research missions. A significant thrust of our most recent research, and one that will be increasingly important for the continued success of the Center, involves the exploration of the role new technologies can play in improving education for all students, especially those with disabilities. In addition, these projects reflect our commitment to conducting multidisciplinary studies and to forging relationships with experts across fields. All of our teams are involved in this type of research to some extent, some more deeply than others.