Research Summits

Think College Research Summits bring together stakeholders from across the country to discuss current research on inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Think College Research summits are designed to:

  • Inform research community about the focus, methods, and findings of relevant studies
  • Support networking and cross-pollination of ideas
  • Enhance knowledge of the impact of inclusive higher education
  • Identify areas of need for future research

If you are conducting research that you would be interested in presenting at a future research summit, send an email to

Fall 2019 Research Summit

October 10, 2019
1:00pm- 2:30pm Eastern Time

Access Summit recording, transcript, Power Point, and handouts here

This Think College Research Summit will focus on using the RSA 911 Dataset to inform our understanding of higher education for students with intellectual disability. 

Tom Sannicandro, JD, Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, is presenting "Effect of College for People with Intellectual Disabilities on Employment, Income, and SSI.” This presentation provides a review of six years of data from the Rehabilitation Services Administration 911 Dataset examining individuals with intellectual disabilities who had some college revealed a correlation between college and increased employment, earnings, and less reliance on Supplemental Security Income.

Stormy Miller, Ed.D., Director of Student Services, Student Accessibility and Psychological Services at the College of Marin, and Mark Tucker, Ph.D., CRC, Associate Professor, Department of Administration, Rehabilitation & Postsecondary Education at San Diego State University / Interwork Institute, will be presenting "Postsecondary Education and Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: Evidence and Policy Implications,” which is an assessment of the provision of college and university training by vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and examination of the associations between certificate or degree completion and weekly earnings among individuals with IDD served by the federal-state VR system.


Spring 2019 Research Summit

May 1, 2019
1:00 pm- 2:30pm Eastern Time

Access Summit recording, transcript, Power Point, and handouts here

The Spring 2019 Research Summit will focus on evaluating the experiences and perspectives of peer mentors supporting students with intellectual disability in inclusive higher education. Two researchers will present their work.

Erik Carter, Ph.D., Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University, will present “Examining the Experiences and Expectations of Peer Mentors: A Cross-Campus Study.” This multi-year, multi-campus, mixed-method study addresses the motivations, experiences, and perceptions of peers who are formally involved in supporting inclusive higher education experiences for students with intellectual disability.

Fiona Rillotta, Ph.D., Lecturer & Honours Coordinator, Disability and Community Inclusion, College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, will present “Inclusive Higher Education at an Australian University: Perspectives of students with intellectual disability and their mentors.” This study investigated the expectations and experiences of students with ID in an inclusive individual support PSE programme in Australia through interviews with students and peer mentors.

Winter 2018 Research Summit

December 13, 2018
1:00 pm- 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Access Summit recording, transcript, Power Point and handouts here 

The Winter 2018 Research Summit will focus on evaluating the impact of college-based transition services for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Caroline E. Parker, Ed.D., Principal Research Scientist, and Rebecca Schillaci, Research Associate, Education Development Center, will present “Self-Determination in the Think College Transition Model: Results from a Quasi-Experimental Study.” Researchers from Education Development Center conducted a study to evaluate the effect of participation in the Think College Transition Model on transition-aged students with intellectual disabilities in MA. The presentation will focus on students’ growth in self-determination.

Maria Paiewonsky, Ed.D., Project Coordinator, Ty Hanson, Postsecondary Ed Specialist, and Odgerel Dashzeveg, doctoral student, all of Think College, will present “Put Yourself on the Map: Exploring Student Perceptions of College Using Drawings and Digital Mapping Strategies.” Staff from the Think College Transition project facilitated research with college students with intellectual disability using students’ own drawings and digital mapping. Together they explored how place and space influence transition services. This presentation will focus on how students portrayed characteristics of emerging adulthood.

Spring 2018 Research Summit

June 5, 2018
1:00 pm- 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Access Summit recording, transcript, Power Point and handouts here

This summit will focus on “What works: Effective strategies for VR collaboration and employment.” Researchers from Think College will present two recent studies.

Jennifer Sullivan Sulewski, Senior Research Associate, will present “Collaboration between VR and Higher Education: Lessons from Four Case Studies.” Between May and October 2017, a Think College research team conducted case studies of four higher education programs identified as having effective partnerships with VR. This presentation will cover key elements of effective VR/higher education collaboration identified in these case studies.

Daria Domin, Research Associate, and Kelly Haines, Research Associate, will present “Employment of students with intellectual disability in college and beyond.” How do college programs prepare students with intellectual disability for employment? This presentation will summarize results from focus groups conducted with employment staff at TPSID model demonstration programs, highlighting practices and challenges to obtaining paid employment.

Fall 2017 Research Summit

December 7, 2017
2:00 pm -3:30 pm Eastern Time

Access webinar recording, transcript, and Power Point presentation. 

This Research Summit will focus on academic strategy instruction for young adults with intellectual disability in the postsecondary education setting. Two groups of presenters will share methods, results and implications from their research studies.  

Youjia Hua, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Virginia, and Suzanne Woods-Groves, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Iowa, will present “Reading and Writing Strategy Instruction for Young Adults with Intellectual Disability in a Postsecondary Education Setting.” Young adults with intellectual disability (ID) often struggle with reading and writing. Hua and Woods-Groves will present two studies that investigated the effects of strategy instruction on reading and writing skills for young adults with ID at a postsecondary education setting.

David Cihak, Ph.D., Professor, University of Tennessee, and Don McMahon, Assistant Professor, Washington State University, will present “Augmented Reality for Teaching Science Vocabulary to Postsecondary Education Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism.” This study examined the use of an emerging technology called augmented reality to teach science vocabulary words to four college students with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders in a multiple probe across behaviors (i.e., acquisition of science vocabulary words) design.


Spring 2017 Research Summit

June 7, 2017
2:00 pm -3:30 pm Eastern Time

Listen to recording

The Spring 2017 Online Research Summit focused on doctoral student research, with two presenters sharing their successfully completed dissertations. Discussion will include areas of needed research and lessons learned in designing and conducting dissertations on inclusive higher education.

Featured speakers

Seb Prohn, Ph.D. : “A Grounded Theory of Social Inclusion for Postsecondary Education Students with Intellectual Disability”

In this multimethod study, college students with I/DD served as participant evaluators collecting and sharing data to describe their social experiences in a campus community. Students presented social inclusion as a function of belonging and attributed worth within context, and they described the most supportive PSE contexts for inclusive social experiences.

Lyndsey Nunes, Ph.D.: “Evaluating Self-Determination Skills of Individuals with Intellectual Disability in the MA Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative Programs”

The purpose of this evaluative research study was to examine and understand the functional components of fully inclusive postsecondary education programs that promote self-determination for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to differentiate among the MA ICEI programs that include or do not include these components.

Winter 2017 Research Summit

Listen to recording

Featured speakers:

Cindi May, Ph.D., College of Charleston: A Comparison of the College Experience for Students With and Without Disabilities
Cindi May Presentation Materials

Brian Freedman, Ph.D. and Laura Eisenman, Ph.D., University of Delaware: Dynamics of Mentoring Relationships
Freedman & Eisenman Fast Fact