Student Spotlight | Monica Gonzalez

The SJSU Lurie College of Education provides a range of grants to students to support their academic endeavors to become transformative educators, counselors, therapists, and leaders.  We spoke with Department of Special Education student Monica Gonzalez, who has received a grant to pursue a special research project, to learn more about her experiences and how they have shaped her going forward.  Listen to Monica’s insights below!

SJSU Lurie College of Education Special Education Graduate Student Monica Gonzalez

“My motivation for pursuing this research project is the lack of research available on differentiated instruction for English language learners with mild-to-moderate disabilities. When I was conducting my literature review, I noticed that there was specific research on English language learners, specific research on children with autism, specific research on children who have a specific learning disability, but not a lot of research on English language learners who have autism or English language learners who have a specific learning disability.”

Can you introduce yourselves for our listeners?

My name is Monica Gonzalez. I’m a graduate student in the College of Education and I’m getting my master’s in special education.

Can you provide a brief description of the research project that you are working on?  Why did you want to pursue this research project?

My master’s project investigates a graphic organizer for math word problem solving for English language learners with ASD autism and English language learners with a specific learning disability, so basically what I’m focusing on is high incidence disabilities. I use a single case reversal design study and the whole case is that I want to determine the relationship between a graphic organizer and the number of math word problems solved.

Why did you want to pursue this research project?

My motivation for pursuing this research project is the lack of research available on differentiated instruction for English language learners with mild-to-moderate disabilities. When I was conducting my literature review, I noticed that there was specific research on English language learners, specific research on children with autism, specific research on children who have a specific learning disability, but not a lot of research on English language learners who have autism or English language learners who have a specific learning disability. This highlighted the importance of having representative research available and resources that include effective teaching strategies, such as graphic organizers.

What has your project consisted of thus far?  What do you have left to accomplish before the end of the school year?

We just finished the data collection part of the research, I finished it last semester. I still have to write the results and the discussion portion and overall just bring the whole project together. I also have a lot of editing to do as well as acknowledgments, dedications, and just bringing it all together to make sure that it all flows.

Who is your faculty mentor?  What has your working relationship with them been like?

My faculty mentor is Dr. K [Kulkarni]. She’s very great, she’s amazing. She has helped me develop my topic so that it’s very concise and clear. She’s also provided many resources such as research articles and she supported me throughout my whole year and a half here [at SJSU]. Dr. Simpson and Dr. Love have also guided me throughout the research. Dr Simpson is the queen of graphs. With her expertise in intervention, she was able to guide my data collection plan. She also taught me everything that I know about Excel sheets and graphing data. Dr. Love has also guided me in developing my research project and has provided very extensive feedback on my drafts. This just shows how the Special Education Department really cares for their students’ success. I’m very honored to have their support.

Can you share an experience that you’ve had with this project so far that has been surprising, significant, challenging, reassuring, etc.?

The IRB process was very challenging for me. Because my research includes children, I had to go through the whole IRB Institutional Review Board. It was challenging in the way that it has many steps and loops that you have to go through. In addition, finding research articles on my topic was also a very challenging task to do. This experience has definitely been a challenge but it has been very rewarding in the sense that you get to see you get to do a lot of research on your topic of choice and you get to learn more about special education.

How has this opportunity overall shaped you going forward?

Overall, you start questioning everything to see if there’s a why. You want to why to everything. For example, why are you using this reading program? Why do children with autism…how can you prove that this works for social skills with children with autism? You just start questioning the why in a lot of things, so it definitely has shaped my view and a lot of things due to all of the research and all the articles that go into reading.

Connect with Lurie College at https://linktr.ee/sjsulurie to receive more news about academic and student life!  Audio recorded and edited by Brian Cheung Dooley.  “Adventure” provided royalty free by bensound.com.  Interview transcription provided by otter.ai and edited by Kimberly Urrutia.

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