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Watson College News

WCE Professor Linda Mechling Receives National Award

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Linda Mechling, special education professor at the Watson College of Education (WCE), is the 2015 recipient of the Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CEC-DADD).

Dagny Fidler, Iowa CEC president and DADD secretary and awards chair, announced the award in January.

"Dr. Mechling has published research articles in the field of developmental disabilities over many years," Fidler said. "She has demonstrated dedication to bettering the field of education for the students we serve. Her works continue to advance the field."

Mechling has had 50 peer-reviewed research articles published in journals in recent years. Twenty have been published in Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities (ETADD), the professional journal of DADD, including most recently, "Comparison of the Effects of Continuous Video Modeling, Video Prompting, and Video Modeling on Task Completion by Young Adults with Moderate Intellectual Disability," published in December 2014. An additional three articles have been accepted by ETADD for future publication. The journal's publication acceptance rate is 28 percent.

ETADD is a top journal in the field that reaches 3,800 DADD members. The membership base includes teachers, researchers and other professionals who work with students with autism and moderate to severe intellectual abilities.

MechlingtypaLouis Lanunziata, WCE Special Education program coordinator, said Mechling is very deserving of the research honor.

"I was delighted to learn that your outstanding efforts have been recognized by your peers in The Council for Exceptional Children Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities," he wrote to Mechling. "Your willingness to go above and beyond in program development and research is well-known to all of us in the Watson College of Education, and, clearly the word has spread! Congratulations on this very well-deserved recognition, and please know how proud your colleagues are of your achievement. We're all fortunate to benefit from your contributions on a daily basis."

Mechling joined the special education faculty at the Watson College in 2001 and serves as coordinator for the Adapted Curriculum (AC) Special Education program, a track she helped to develop. The AC program prepares teachers to provide instruction to assist students with moderate to severe disabilities who are not enrolled in the general education curriculum. Through courses and supervised field placements, Mechling teaches AC students instructional techniques including the use of assistive technology and sign language, and how to assist with the medical needs of students.

The focus of her research is on investigating instructional strategies and interventions to increase the skills and independence of students with moderate to severe disabilities. Mechling describes her work as being applied research. She conducts research directly with persons with disabilities and frequently works in conjunction with her UNCW Adapted Curriculum Special Education students.

As an example, Mechling cited a research project she completed with Jenny Root '10 while she was a student at the Watson College. An article they co-authored titled "Computer-Based Video Self-Modeling to Teach Receptive Understanding of Prepositions by Students with Intellectual Disabilities," was published in ETADD in 2011.

Root, who was Jenny R. Hunnicutt at the time of the publication and is now a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, said Mechling strongly influenced her choice of a career.

"Dr. Mechling introduced me to applied research as an undergraduate," Root said. "The mentorship and guidance she provided me through that process was invaluable. As a result, I was able to conduct an applied study in my own classroom for my master's thesis that went on to be presented at state and national conferences."

MechlingboatRoot said Mechling was her inspiration to get a doctorate in special education.

"I want to replicate what Dr. Mechling has accomplished at UNCW - to be a part of a thriving severe disabilities teacher preparation program while involving students in my active research agenda," she said. "I feel blessed to have had the privilege of having Dr. Mechling as a mentor."

Kathy Fox, chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Grades, Literacy and Special Education at the Watson College, was pleased to see Mechling receive national recognition for her work.

"Dr. Mechling is an outstanding model of a dedicated professional," Fox said. "This award is well deserved as it acknowledges her research contributions to the larger audience of classroom teachers and scholars working to meet the needs of children and families. Among her colleagues in the WCE, while she is known for her prolific scholarship, she is also recognized for her ability to connect one-on-one with students, supporting them throughout their program. Dr. Mechling is truly a role model for both her students in the special education program as well as faculty members looking for a model of successful teaching, scholarship and service. Dr. Mechling is a giver and we benefit from her generosity."

Mechling was nominated for the award by Stanley Zucker, editor of ETADD. An award presentation and celebration to honor her achievements will be held during the DADD business meeting at the national CEC convention in San Diego in April.

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is known as the voice and vision of special education. It is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities, gifts or talents. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice. For more information, visit http://www.cec.sped.org.