Research Overview

Research at UMID is driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty from various U of M departments, including counseling psychology, educational research, behavioral analysis, and social work. The team also includes doctoral-level students who are budding researchers and seek experience writing grants, conducting studies, and publishing research in peer-reviewed journals.

Our goal is to advance quantitative and qualitative research on disabilities and vocational rehabilitation. A list of UMID's current studies is outlined below. In particular, we conduct research on postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities, such as the TigerLIFE program at U of M. TigerLIFE provides two-years of academic, social, and vocational training and prepares young adults for employment and independent living upon graduation.

A number of our studies are conducted in conjunction with the other members of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance (University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Lipscomb University, Union University, and the University of Memphis). The majority of current UMID research is supported by a 5-year, 1.5 million dollar grant awarded to UMID from the Department of Education for Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID).

Published Research

Rehabilitation Counselor Degree Type as a Predictor of Client Outcomes: A Comparison of Quantity Versus Quality in Closure Rates

Motivations and Expectations of Peer Mentors Within Inclusive Higher Education Programs for Students With Intellectual Disability

Closure rates and counselor education:  An exploration of why counselors with MRC degrees do not have better client outcomes than other master's-level counselors

Team Members

Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Ph.D.
Professor Director, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID), Professor (CEPR) University of Memphis

William Hunter, Ed.D.
Research Associate, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID), Associate Professor Instruction Curriculum Leadership (ICL) University of Memphis

Michael Mackay, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (Director of Research for BRIDGE Grant)

Dr. Kay Reeves, Ed.D.
Research Associate, Instruction Curriculum TigerLIFE program, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID), Clinical Associate Professor Instruction Curriculum Leadership (ICL) University of Memphis

Maurice Williams, MA, MS, CNP
Senior Associate Director / Career Development & Transition Programs, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Sharon Hsu, Ph.D., MPH
Assistant Director Research Development, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Patrick Krolik, MBA
Assistant Director Administrative Operations, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Elisabeth Langford, MS
Vocational Evaluator, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Louvisia Conley
Graduate Assistant, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Greg Edgin, MS, LAC
Graduate Assistant, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)

Danielle Sample, MS, NCC
Graduate Assistant, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis (UMID)


Peer Mentor Study

The goal of the study is to see what motivates students to become peer mentors of TigerLIFE students. It also examines what kinds of changes, difficulties, and benefits mentors experience over the course of an academic year. This research is being conducted in conjunction with 5 other institutions in Tennessee who have similar programs to TigerLIFE. In the first year of the study, we collected data from about 250 peer mentors across all locations and expect the first set of results to be available in August 2017.

Faculty Study

This study examines the attitudes and apprehensions university faculty have toward students with intellectual disabilities and, more broadly, towards programs such as TigerLIFE. The study will be conducted along with LeMoyne-Owen College and Alabama A & M University, both of which are launching programs similar to TigerLIFE. It is noteworthy to point out that these will be the first programs at institutions regarded as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), so there is a high need for data collection. The study is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2017.

Family Well-Being Study

TigerLIFE changes the lives of not just the students but also their entire families! In this study we are collecting data from TigerLIFE parents of to determine how their financial and subjective well-being has changed since their son or daughter graduated from TigerLIFE. Parents are interviewed when students enter TigerLIFE, upon graduation from the program, and every 6-months after graduation for a period of 24 months. Initial results are expected in the latter half of 2018.

VR Counselor Credentials Study

The goal of this line of research is to determine whether Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors who have master's degrees have better client outcomes than counselors with only bachelor degrees. We are working with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation to gather this data. Analyses are expected to occur in July 2017 with an aim of publication in the fall. Once we complete analyses of the Utah data, our goal is to receive a multi-year NIDLRR grant to replicate the study throughout the United States.

Studies in Planning

A randomized-controlled-trial examining the efficacy of the TigerLIFE program. The study will examine whether TigerLIFE graduates have higher rates of employment, self-efficacy, and subjective well-being than adults who are assigned to a minimal-intervention control group.

Validation of the Attitudes Toward Intellectual Disability (ATTID) Questionnaire. The study will use a sample of university students and sample of online-sourced adults throughout the United States to determine whether the proposed scale structure is supported when used in an online setting.