SECD welcomes three new SPED faculty members


SECD welcomes three new SPED faculty members

07 Sep 2016    

Three new assistant professors joined the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders for the 2016-17 academic year. Marc Goodrich, Jessica Namkung and Peng Peng are the newest faces among the special education faculty.

Marc Goodrich

Doctorate in developmental psychology, Florida State University, 2015
Master's in developmental psychology, Florida State University, 2012
Bachelor's in psychology/Spanish, University of Texas at Austin, 2008

What made you interested in special education?
I grew up in Texas and spent significant time visiting and working in areas along the U.S.-Mexico border, an area in which much of the population speaks Spanish at home. When I learned that language-minority children struggle with acquiring reading skills and have lower reading achievement throughout school than do monolingual children, I became interested in why this happens and what can be done to improve educational outcomes for this population.

What is your area of expertise within special education?
My area of research focuses on examining the development of language and literacy skills among children in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home (i.e., language-minority children, English-language learners). In particular, my research has focused on children who are native Spanish speakers. 

What made UNL's Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders the right fit for you?
I am a strong believer in having diverse perspectives when approaching important issues, such as improving educational outcomes for children with special needs. Although my background is in developmental psychology, my focus on education research fits well with the current faculty in SECD, providing opportunity for collaboration. Additionally, the resources available through the department, including the Schmoker Reading Center, provide unique opportunities for improving others' educational needs and growing as an instructor and researcher. 

What is one goal you have for your first year at UNL?
During my first year at UNL, I hope to establish strong relationships with people at all levels within SECD, as well as members of the larger community, such as administrators and teachers in Lincoln Public Schools. I believe that establishing these relationships will be an important step in building a strong research agenda and teaching program that benefits both the department and the community.

Jessica Namkung

Doctorate in special education, Vanderbilt University, 2014
Master's in special education, Vanderbilt University, 2009
Bachelor's in psychology, University of Washington, 2006

What made you interested in special education?
After I moved to the United States when I was in high school, I became the "math" person. I started to tutor my friends, and soon it became my job. Throughout college, I worked as a math instructor at an after-school program with a diverse group of students (minority students, students with disabilities, English-language learning students), and I became interested in individual differences in learning math and how to teach those students. This led me to the field of special education and finally to my research and teaching interests on math learning disabilities.

What is your area of expertise within special education?
My research interest and expertise is on improving academic outcomes for students with learning difficulties. More specifically, my research is focused on understanding factors that contribute to individual differences in learning math and developing interventions for students with math learning difficulties. 

What made UNL's Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders the right fit for you?
SECD has tremendous support for research, which you don't always find, even at many R1 institutions. The department also has great faculty members with expertise in diverse areas, which allows for collaboration and expanding my research.

What is one goal you have for your first year at UNL?
The first goal is to get settled both personally and professionally. At UNL, I need to get to know my students, as well as other faculty and staff. I would also like to start building relations with local schools and communities, so that I can start collaborating with them on my research.

Peng Peng

Doctorate in education, Vanderbilt University, 2014
Master's in education and developmental psychology, Beijing Normal University, 2009
Bachelor's in psychology and English language and literature, Beijing Normal University, 2006

What made you interested in special education?
First, I love to work with children with learning disabilities to improve their academic performance. Second, I have curiosity about why some at-risk children respond to evidence-based academic instructions and some do not. Third, I received training in designing and implementing interventions in special education as well as experiments in cognitive psychology. So, it comes to me naturally that I am really into research that tries to combine academic interventions with cognitive training for children with severe learning disabilities.

What is your area of expertise within special education?
My research is focused on cognitive mechanisms underlying different types of learning disabilities. I am especially interested in how to embed working memory, executive functions, and attention training into academic instructions for children with severe learning disabilities who do not respond to evidence-based academic instructions. Another line of my research is meta-analysis that looks at different aspects of reading and mathematics learning across cultures and languages.

What made UNL's Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders the right fit for you?
It is a great department full of excellent researchers and great staff. I also really value the department's tremendous support for early scholars in teaching and research.

What is one goal you have for your first year at UNL?
Adjust to the new environment and try to be as productive as I can.

 


Special Education and Communication Disorders