Andrianopoulos receives $1.25 million for Speech Language Pathology Research-to-Practice grant

Jan 17 2013
Dr. Mary Andrianopoulos (left) and Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin (right)

Dr. Mary Andrianopoulos, Associate Professor of Communication Disorders, and Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin, Chair and Professor of the Department of Student Development, recently were awarded a five-year grant for $1.25 million from the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE). The grant proposal, called “Training Speech Language Pathologists in the Public Schools to Deliver Reliable Evidence-based Models of Technology Effectively,” was one of nine winning proposals funded in 2012 by the federal government in this specific competition.

The grant will fund over 40 masters’ students in Speech Language Pathology with a specialization in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the use of technologies to facilitate learning over the next five years. The masters’ students will engage in Research-to-Practice activities and will study the efficacy of various intervention approaches that are typically delivered to children on the autism spectrum. They will also deliver evidence-based practices to improve and maintain outcomes and achievement among students with ASD using a telepractice service delivery model, which will include active consultation and e-Supervision of the graduate students working with the students with ASD. Moreover, Andrianopoulos and her colleagues intend to provide professional development opportunities to collaborative schools and personnel in the Pioneer Valley and nationally using the smart classrooms at UMass-Amherst. They will also disseminate state-of-art knowledge and empirical data regarding the training of SLP specialists using evidence-based procedures through the use of technologies.

“What made this grant proposal a winner is the telepractice/telehealth component we proposed for the project plan, which reviewers reported was novel, innovative and the way of the future,” said Andrianopoulos. “The new grant will expand our SLP specialty-training program in ASD in collaboration with our UMass Telepractice Research Team (U-TRT) and our well-established school partners to include the use of technologies.”

Andrianopoulos and her colleague, Dr. Michelle Boisvert, the lead investigator of the telepractice research and a clinical instructor in the Department of Communications Disorders, have been invited to present their research findings on the effective use of telepractice as a service delivery, training and educational model at the annual Council for Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) conference to be held in Arizona this April, 2013.  Their research regarding the application of telepractice as a service delivery model revealed that students with ASD demonstrated equivalent, and in some cases better outcomes, when intervention was provided through telepractice as compared to traditional on-site services. 

According to Andrianopoulos and Boisvert, “Telepractice involves the application of technologies (e.g., computer-based videoconferencing software and the Internet)”, which enables specialists to deliver services in real-time over a geographical distance. This is especially beneficial to the profession since there is a critical shortage of Speech Language Pathologists in the country.

Andrianopoulos has established a legacy in training the next generation of SLPs with a specialization in autism and research related to speech and language differences among those individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. To date, she has received $3.65 million from the U.S. DOE and has funded and graduated 50 masters’ and 8 doctoral students in SLP. In addition to Andrianopoulos, Boscardin and Boisvert, the project team includes Communication Disorders faculty member Jacquie Kurland; Meg Gebhard from the School of Education; and Lisa Green from the Department of Linguistics. Collaborative public school partners include Chicopee, Springfield, Holyoke, Sunderland, Amherst, and South Hadley Public Schools and the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech. John Elder Robison, author of the best-selling book, Look Me in the Eye, will serve as a consultant and Advisory Board member on the grant.

To learn more about Andrianopoulos’s project, please call (413-545-0551) or e-mail her at mva@comdis.umass.edu.

For more information regarding the US DOE Personnel Preparation Grant, visit www.umass.edu/doegrants/