Alyssa Brewer, a senior elementary education and special education major at Missouri Southern, was recently invited to present her research project at the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

The annual conference provides an opportunity for global researchers to present their findings in context such as, theory, practices, empirical research, and conceptual advancement of cognitive change.

“Being a special education major, I’m obviously very passionate about students with disabilities getting the same education as their peers,” says Brewer. “I have family members in education. They kept coming to me with questions like, ‘What’s the best strategy for these students with disabilities?’

“I began to investigate and found we don’t really train general educators to teach students with disabilities. They spend most of their day in general education, not special education.”

Brewer says she became interested in how educators can become better prepared to meet the needs of the diverse students in their classrooms.

“I interviewed student teachers and found that they have high perceived preparation rates,” she says. “There was definitely a contrast to their actual special-education knowledge.”

Her research shows that administrators are suggesting teacher candidates have field experience to help them accommodate students with special needs.

“That’s where you get to see those evidence-based strategies in-person,” Brewer says.

Brewer says she enjoyed her first experience attending an academic conference.

“I would definitely love to go back,” she says. “It was great to be able to share my research, but also to connect with other researchers from across the U.S. and other countries to see what they were interested in and what their results and processes were.”