Samuel A. Kirk Awards Winners

The Kirk Award is named after Samuel A. Kirk, one of the United State’s foremost leaders in special education and, especially in the field of learning disabilities. This award is overseen by DLD's Publications Committee, is given occasionally, and recognizes excellence in professional journal articles that have been published in Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. For more information, please contact us

  • 2010: Jean B. Schumaker and Donald D. Deshler

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    In 2010 the S. A. Kirk Award was given to Jean B. Schumaker and Donald D. Deshler in honor of their outstanding contribution to the literature on learning disabilities with the article, "Adolescents with Learning Disabilities as Writers: Are We Selling Them Short?" In their article, Professors Schumaker and Deshler recount the extensive work spanning more than three decades as they sought to develop ways to help adolescents with learning disabilities succeed in schools and life. The abstract for the article is as follows:


    This article chronicles the evolution of a programmatic line of research on strategic writing instruction for adolescents with learning disabilities (LD) conducted by staff and affiliates of the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. The goal associated with this research is that students with LD learn the writing skills that they need to succeed in high school and beyond and that their skills are comparable to the skills of their peers. Individual studies have shown that adolescents with LD can master a given writing strategy and can apply that strategy to novel prompts and in general education classes. Moreover, they can learn simple writing strategies from computerized programs. They can also maintain use of a writing strategy over time. When students learn several writing strategies, their scores on standardized tests improve, and their writing competency is comparable to that of peers. Studies have also shown that teachers can teach the writing strategies and achieve successful results. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that students with LD receive the instruction under conditions where they have multiple opportunities to reach mastery on each skill and receive individualized feedback on practice attempts. Overall, the research has shown that adolescents with LD can learn complex writing skills such as planning, writing, and editing multiparagraph themes; can apply these skills to tasks that are assigned in required general education courses; and can be successful in those courses.

    Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (2009). Adolescents with learning disabilities as writers: Are we selling them short? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 24, 81-92.