According to Su-Je Cho, professor of Childhood Special Education, “ . . . Kathleen Doyle’s accomplishments [as a student]in the Fordham GSE have to be recognized.” Doyle, a school psychology doctoral candidate, decided to study at the Fordham GSE because she “ . . . appreciated how GSE encourages doctoral students to discover their own research passion,” and that “ . . . the faculty supports students [work]to achieve their individual research goals.” She added that it was an additional benefit to be at GSE because “I had lived in New York City for three years prior to graduate school and I wanted to continue my time here working in a multicultural urban environment.”
Doyle’s dissertation research focuses on children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with particular attention on the subject of sexuality education. Sexuality education is common among K-12 general education students and is foundational to healthy psychosocial development. Doyle’s research thus far shows that students with disabilities are unfortunately receiving inadequate sexuality education due to a variety of barriers that often negatively impact students and potentially generate severe consequences. The consequences include individuals experiencing a lack of self-determination; decreased psychosocial wellbeing; diminished quality of life; and an increased risk of sexual abuse. Specifically, Doyle’s research is exploring barriers that influence the lack of sexuality education for disabled students, including federal and state laws; perceptions of society and stakeholders; and lack of formal training.
In her first year at the GSE, Doyle had the opportunity to meet and ultimately work with Cho on a federal grant, which she says has become “a very positive and productive relationship.” Doyle reports that Cho has truly become a mentor and has encouraged her to pursue even more opportunities, such as a position as 2019-2020 Fordham Social Innovation Intern to pursue “Understanding the Needs of Sexuality Education for Students with Disabilities”, a yearlong funded project sponsored by the Fordham Office of Research. The internship has facilitated further research into Doyle’s dissertation topic, and allowed her to co-lead a research group with Cho and present the research to the Fordham community twice. The internship will culminate in creating a developmentally appropriate sexuality curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities and a manuscript on the multidisciplinary perspectives of school personnel on the topic. Doyle also previously participated in the Fordham Faculty Research Abroad digital scholarship program in London. She was one of two doctoral students to attend with faculty and staff members.
Doyle also co-authored (with Cho) a 2019 article, “Infusing evidence-based practice in the pre-service preparation program for teachers of English Language Learners,” published in the Journal of Multilingual Education Research,. Two other Cho/Doyle journal articles are currently under revision and two more are being written. Doyle and Cho have also made more than 10 presentations at national and international conferences.
After Cho was awarded two large multi-year federal grants from the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Doyle began working with her on one of these, Project REACH. As the grant coordinator, Doyle helped manage a $1.5 million budget that supported special education teachers in culturally diverse urban settings who teach learners with high-incidence disabilities. Working as the grant coordinator also involved supporting special education faculty and guest speakers on professional and course development.
Cho’s other large grant is Project PACTS (Preparing Affirmative Collaborative Teachers and School Psychologists for Students with High-Intensity Intervention Needs in Elementary Schools). This $1.25 million interdisciplinary scholarship grant supports GSE masters students in special education and bilingual school psychology. Doyle’s work on the grant gave her the opportunity to create and co-lead a seminar class and attend the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Conference to support students presenting their research projects.
Doyle credits Fordham’s approach of allowing her to pursue her personal research and career interests as playing an important role in her successful application to match with an Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) American Psychological Association (APA) accredited internship, through which she will receive further training to work with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and severe behaviors in a residential setting.