Dr. Yaoying Xu is a professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education. She teaches master’s and doctoral courses including assessment, instructional programming, multicultural and global perspectives in education, and single subject research methods. Dr. Xu’s current research interests are an extension of her dissertation which focused on social aspects of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and how children’s social interaction affects their academic performance. In addition to her original research interest, Dr. Xu is currently the principal investigator for Project KSR which is a five year project funded by OSEP to prepare fully credentialed early interventionists/early childhood special educators (EI/ECSE)for high-need communities. The project objectives are to a) prepare 40 fully credentialed EI/ECSE personnel and support beginning early childhood special educators with conditional licenses to obtain endorsement in EI/ECSE; b) increase community-based competencies of EI/ECSE personnel for high quality services in high need communities and inclusive programs; and c) enhance use of evidence-based practices in assessment, program planning, and progress monitoring that will lead to improved outcomes for children and families.
She believes personnel preparation and quality of early intervention practices make a difference in children’s functional developmental outcomes. Additionally she believes families will see improved outcomes, specifically through community based family engagement. In order to gain a better understanding of her work on culturally and linguistically diverse students, she recommends doctoral students read her published article, Culturally appropriate context: Unlocking the potential of response to intervention for young English language learners (2008).
As a faculty member a typical day is very loaded with meetings and hours of emails, which she finds most time consuming. She doesn’t have a heavy teaching load, but finds herself transferring work to home. To disengage Dr. Xu has found a new hobby of playing tennis. She says it requires a lot of focus and is extremely therapeutic. She usually plays 2-3 times a week at her athletic club. She also enjoys exercising.
When I asked Dr. Xu what she liked most about her doctoral program, she responded, her favorite part was the sense of community amongst her peers. Her program was fairly large with about 50 students in the program. The School of Education also had a lunch lounge in the building which permitted time for peers to collaborate and support one another. The closeness of the group often times blurred the line between personal and professional. She and her peers found themselves attending family celebrations, birthdays, and other outside social events. While in her program she had two faculty advisors which was a huge benefit. She mentioned her primary advisor was strength oriented, easy going, caring and a good listener. Her secondary advisor was very structured and ridged about their schedule. They mainly collaborated on writing and research. She was pushed by both her advisors and considered both of them friends.
She recommends doctoral students: always stay positive, it may sound easy, but can be challenging, and never give up or let others’ behavior affect you.
Interview conducted by: Evandra Catherine, doctoral student, Special Education and Disability Policy