These are central questions to be answered by the newly established Center for Education Research Partnerships at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of Rochester Institute of Technology.
The center announced today it has been awarded $1.1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to foster links between research and practice in deaf education. Specifically, the funds will help examine learning through sign language interpreting and real-time captioning, as well as understanding how deaf students handle multimedia instruction in today's high-technology classrooms.
"Are deaf children just hearing children who cannot hear?" asked Center Director, Marc Marschark. "If so, educating deaf children would be a lot easier than it is. If one removes the communication barriers in the classroom, deaf and hearing students should be performing similarly. But the two groups have different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. It is not that simple."
External funding allows the center to work with schools, parent and educational organizations, and other agencies in the United States and abroad, as well as students at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Several partnerships already have been established with schools, educational consortia, and research centers in several countries, including The Netherlands, England, Scotland, Canada, and Australia. Among other objectives, the center seeks to improve academic achievement of deaf students in mainstream classrooms.
The two new NSF grants include a three-year, $1 million award aimed at understanding and optimizing deaf students' learning strategies and a $149,000 award for the center to host an international conference on the cognitive underpinnings of science learning among deaf students.
"We are at a threshold in deaf education," said Marschark. "New findings suggest that we have not made as much progress as we expected because we have been looking in the wrong places for some of the answers."
“The results of this research will be beneficial to educators worldwide, and can be applied to not just educating those with hearing loss, but those learning a second language,” said Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, CEO/Dean of NTID and Vice President of RIT.
Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging technology, fine and applied arts, and for providing unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and more than 1,100 students with hearing loss from around the world study, live and socialize with 14,400 hearing students on RIT’s Rochester, NY campus. U.S. News and World Report has consistently ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities.
Web site: www.rit.edu/NTID