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Baylor PhD Student Earns Honors from CEC and OAR [04/06/2021]


PhD student Marie Kirkpatrick

Baylor School of Education PhD student Marie Kirkpatrick

Baylor School of Education doctoral student Marie Kirkpatrick has received recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) for her research related to autism.

CEC chose Kirkpatrick as an Outstanding Scholar to join the Division for Research Doctoral Student Scholars Cohort 13. Students are selected through an internationally competitive review process based on proposals and nominations. Kirkpatrick was nominated by Dr. Jessica Akers, her mentor and an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis.

The CEC program provides professional development and networking for advanced doctoral students who are conducting research in special education. Kirkpatrick said the program has provided guidance in publishing articles, collaborating within Baylor and across universities, obtaining grant funding, and mentoring and advising students.

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) awarded Kirkpatrick a grant of $1,730 for her doctoral dissertation research. A record number of proposals was reviewed by the OAR Scientific Council, a panel of experts, and awarded based on alignment with OAR’s research priorities, methodological soundness, and relevance for those affected by autism.

Kirkpatrick’s study employs the use of iPads to support math learning, on-task behavior, and social interactions for young students with autism who are being educated alongside peers in general-education classrooms.

“Many students impacted by autism already use iPads for multiple tasks, so the study creates a learning supplement using a familiar technology,” she said. “Research has shown that using visual supports — such as picture activity schedules — and video models — such as video clips of someone demonstrating a task or activity — are effective in supporting students with autism in learning various skills.”

While this technology, video activity schedules, has been used primarily to teach daily living skills to adolescents, Kirkpatrick’s study is one of very few evaluating its use with teaching academic skills, like math, to younger students.

“My dissertation addresses these gaps in research and evaluates the extent to which this technology facilitates learning and independence through accurate task or activity completion and on-task behavior,” she said.

Kirkpatrick will conduct single-subject research study in Lorena ISD and at the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities.

Kirkpatrick is the first Baylor recipient for both of these honors, and her mentor Dr. Akers said Baylor is very proud of her accomplishments. “Marie’s research addresses an important gap in the literature,” Akers said. “She aims to positively impact the extent to which children with autism are included in general education classrooms.”

Kirkpatrick is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Behavior Analyst. She earned a master’s degree in Special Education from Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). While in the Baylor PhD program, she has served as a graduate research assistant with several different faculty members, provided tele-health to families of children with autism, supervised pre-service behavior analysts working in schools, and conducted single-case research studies at the BCDD. She has already published eight peer-reviewed articles, serving as lead author on four of them.

With an anticipated 2021 graduation with her PhD, Kirkpatrick has accepted a professional position at UTSA as assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Applied Behavior Analysis program.

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For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit to learn more.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.



  1. What great news! Congratulations, Marie!

  2. This is fantastic! Congratulations!

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