The DCDT Research Committee’s purpose is to support rigorous research in secondary education and transition that makes a real difference in the lives of young people with disabilities and their families. The committee has a number of active subcommittees that are engaged in several initiatives (if you want to get involved, please email me!).
Because of the importance of supporting the next generation of leaders in the transition field, one highly active subcommittee is Early Career Scholars and Graduate Students, led by Allison Lombardi from the University of Connecticut. This subcommittee organizes a number of activities to support graduate students and early career scholars, with a particular focus on networking and educational opportunities at the DCDT and CEC conferences. One activity that the subcommittee supports is the Students Engaging Transition Scholars (SETS) Mentorship Program. Adam Lawlor, DCDT graduate student representative, has taken a leadership role over the last two years in facilitating meetings at the DCDT conference between graduate students and senior scholars in the transition field from different universities. At the last two DCDT conferences (Cleveland and Portland), 20 graduate student/senior scholar matches were made. The student and scholar schedule a time to meet at the conference for unstructured dialogue about graduate studies, career opportunities, and research activities.
Currently, there are no formal conference activities outside of this meeting; however, the personal connection and networking opportunity has been rated as a program strength. In a recent survey of mentor and mentee experiences, mentees noted that having one-on-one time to ask questions and get advice was invaluable, as was getting a different perspective from someone in the field who was not a current mentor or advisor. The program will continue, and the subcommittee is looking at possible expansions as well as ways to open it up to additional students (the available slots filled very quickly at the Portland conference!). Overall, the program is bringing together new and established leaders and creating opportunities for ongoing work to make a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities. If you have any feedback or thoughts on the program, feel free to contact Adam (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, the Research Committee will be initiating new subcommittees this year related to the DCDT strategic plan. The focus will be on (a) developing strategies to increase linkages and to infuse transition education practices into other systems (e.g., general education, mental health, vocational rehabilitation) and (b) identifying needs and resources related to the development and use of data-based decision making and fidelity processes to improve transition practices and outcomes. To those of you who have already volunteered—THANK YOU—for those of you who are interested in getting involved, feel free to email me and/or attend our joint DCDT Research and Publications Committee meeting at the CEC Annual Convention.