Jacob Kirksey from UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School has recently been awarded a grant from the NSF’s Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) program. This grant was only open to active awardees of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), which Kirksey received in 2017. His project will focus on inclusive education for students with disabilities and how their presence in the classroom affects other students. Kirksey will compare classrooms in the United States and Australia, two countries with increasing inclusion policies. This project is essential for ensuring that early childhood math instruction corresponds to the expectations and instructional practices of math in later schooling, as the effects of inclusion on math instruction has been greatly overlooked. Additionally, this research aims to analyze preparation for STEM fields particularly for students with disabilities. These students are often stigmatized as being less likely to succeed in STEM subjects and career fields. While this project examines associations of inclusion on teaching practices, the goal is for instruction to be consistent in preparing all students to succeed in STEM. This project intends to specifically impact an underrepresented population of students who can and should succeed in STEM fields. Kirksey will be working with Kirsten Hancock—who gave a lecture to the Gevirtz School in 2015—at the Telethon Kids Institute at University of Western Australia. The grant provides funding for three months of research that will begin in January 2019.
Jacob Kirksey is a Ph.D. student with research interests in the economics of education and education policy. His advisor is Dr. Michael Gottfried in the Policy, Leadership and Research Methods focus area in the Department of Education. He received his B.A. in economics and education from Colorado College, where he also competed nationally in speech/debate competitions. Professionally, Kirksey has worked for two nonprofit organizations, taught K-12 theater in schools, and designed his own after school programs. Through these positions, he has designed several workshops for teachers, parents and students, focusing on issues related to school engagement. Currently, Kirksey is working on research projects related to peer effects, suspension rates, and special education via a policy perspective. His interests also include teacher education and preparation in STEM subjects and shaping STEM pathways for students and adults with disabilities.