Heather Coleman SES

Dr. Heather Coleman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Specialized Education Services (SES), and three of her students received two Undergraduate Research and Creativity Awards this spring. Dr. Coleman will be supporting undergraduate students Krystal Yow and Maria Bonilla-Cooksey for the project titled “Faculty Experiences Related to Team Teaching in an Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Program,” and undergraduate student Heather Church on the project titled “Understanding the Experiences of Parents of Children with Autism and Helping them Teach their Children.”

The Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award (URCA) is designed to help faculty and students partner in meaningful projects that result in advances in understanding within their discipline/field of study. Support can be used to help defray the cost of material expenses and/or related travel, or can be used to provide a stipend for the students. The general URCA program is funded through the indirect costs generated by external grants awarded to UNC Greensboro.

Read more about these undergraduate student projects in Dr. Coleman’s description below.


It is a great honor to have the opportunity to support three students. They were chosen for these awards because of their high achievements in the Birth to Kindergarten (BK) program, their leadership skills, and their passion to pursue research activities that will advance their careers upon graduation. By the end of the summer, both of these projects will provide students the opportunity to work on disseminating the research in paper and presentation form. Thus, I’m excited that students will have the opportunity to practice writing for publication, and presenting at a state-wide conference.

The projects are quite different in nature. Krystal and Maria will be joining a team of BK program faculty and doctoral students from the Departments of Specialized Education Services (SES) and Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS, in the School of Health and Human Sciences) in their exploration of the benefits and challenges of the team taught courses. Many classes in the program are team taught between an instructor from HDFS and SES, and some classes are team taught with a family member that has a child with a disability.

As part of on-going program development, the BK faculty would like to gain students’ and faculty perspectives on how effective the team teaching process is, the benefits, and the challenges. The research team has surveyed students and interviewed faculty to gain their perspectives. In the summer, Krystal and Maria will help the team analyze this data, and publish the information they gather as an example of an effective interdisciplinary program that practices team teaching.

Heather Church has been selected to work on the autism project because of her interest in working with families and children with autism. Heather will assist in analyzing interview data collected to understand the experiences of parents of children with autism. Further, we will be working together to create a virtual parent coaching intervention designed to help parents increase their child’s communication. We will be testing the needed technology and intervention protocols.

I truly enjoy working with and mentoring students in research. I believe when students are engaged in research projects, it provides them a broader educational experience and allows students to further develop critical thinking skills, and oral and communication skills through writing for publication and presenting at conferences.


Read more about Dr. Coleman’s work and research interests here.