Tandra Tyler-Wood, Professor












PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1987

  • Major: Special Education

MEd, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1980

  • Major: Special Education

BS, Converse College, 1976

  • Major: Special Education, Psychology

Research Interests

  • Assessing and determining appropriate curriculum for special needs populations



Notable Journal Publications

  • Implementing New Technology in a Middle School Curriculum: A Rural Perspective (2018). Published by Smart Learning Environments. 
    Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a new school technology on teachers and students in rural middle schools. The study involved teachers and seventh grade students in two Title I rural Texas school districts and was framed through a constructivist lens using a project-based approach. Pre- and post-intervention surveys assessed learning and perceptions, and data were analyzed using one-way Analysis of Variance. Findings suggested that new school technology does not ensure teacher understanding or student learning. For new school technologies to be successful, significant planning, teacher training, and resources must be in place.
  • Factors influencing student STEM career choices: Gender differences (2018). Published by the Journal of Research in STEM Education.
    Abstract: This study examined factors that influence middle school students’ dispositions towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Interest and ability in STEM subject areas were compared by gender, based on 182 middle school students’ responses to four different test instruments. While findings from t-tests indicated significant differences between males and females on mathematics interest scores, no significant differences were found in science, technology, engineering, or STEM career interest. Stepwise multiple regression showed that STEM variables explained 47% of the variance in boys pursuing a STEM career and 36% of the variance in girls. The findings of this study underscore the challenges that still exist in achieving equal gender representation in the STEM workforce, and suggest that adopting a constructivist learning approach may provide a foundation for girls to develop a more positive approach toward science, boost STEM awareness and interest, and increase STEM success.
  • Piloting innovative learning experiences: Outcomes of digital fabrication activities across five classrooms Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, accepted for publication (2018) Sponsored by the National Science Foundation. ​
    Abstract: Declining academic achievement across U.S. schools, particularly in mathematics and science, has prompted several initiatives to increase the quality of teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The National Science Foundation initiated the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program in order to develop new instructional methods that promote deep engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This study examines, based on research funded by ITEST, outcomes from five classroom-based digital fabrication implementations, all part of the same study, and particularly, within each classroom the effect on student attitudes toward STEM subjects and careers. The study employed a quantitative design involving fourth- and fifth-grade students from five classrooms in two different schools, with each classroom focused on one or more of the following activities: wind-generated electricity, simple machines, 3-dimensional puzzles, or solar-powered satellites. Data were collected using items from the National Assessment of Academic Progress (NAEP) and Trends in International Mathematics Science Study (TIMSS) at the beginning and end of the school year. The findings provide evidence of positive changes in attitudes toward STEM subjects and careers across multiple classrooms. Applications of these findings and directions for future studies are discussed.
  • Factors Affecting Learners with Disabilities– Instructor Interaction in Online Learning (2017). Published by the Journal of Special Education Technology. 
    Abstract: Little research is available documenting the success of students with various types of disabilities in online classroom environments. This study investigates which factors associated with learners with disabilities impact student outcomes in an online learning environment. Forty learners with disabilities participating in online higher education coursework were asked to respond to an electronic survey of 20 questions. Results indicated that there were two factors: (1) the teaching and social presences and (2) the facilitating and supporting of individual communication related to interaction among learners with disabilities and their instructors that impacted students’ perceived learning achievement and class satisfaction. Respondents also indicated that social interaction factors, such as social presence, were correlated with less perceived learning achievement and satisfaction. This study has potential value because it found factors related to learner–instructor control that may predict students with disabilities’ perceived learning achievement and satisfaction.
  • The Development of a Transmedia STEM Curriculum: Implications for Mathematics Education (2016). Published by the Journal of Mathematics Education. 
    Abstract: Technological advances inside and outside the classroom enable students to become more active learners. In math, it is important to move instruction into a realm where students have an opportunity to create and apply foundational concepts. Having a framework for students to follow to integrate technology, with a strong educational theory base, can help foster the math part of STEM learning. Transmedia books can provide such a framework. This article strives to explain the underlying theory for using a transmedia book and the potential outcomes it can have on math attainment.
  • Teachers' Attitudes toward Children with Autism: A Comparative Study of the United States and Saudi Arabia (2016). Published by the Journal of the International Association of Special Education.
    Abstract: Saudi Arabia (Saudi) and the United States (U.S.) both have procedures in place for identifying and serving individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the general classroom setting. To determine differences in teachers' attitude towards autism in Saudi and the U.S., data were gathered, compared, and contrasted from both general education and special education teachers in both countries. The Autism Attitude Scale for Teachers (AAST) is a brief assessment of teacher beliefs that was used in this research. Results indicated significant differences in responses between the Saudi and U.S. teachers on 10 of 14 questions asked concerning teacher attitudes towards students with autism. Although the educational regulations governing autism in Saudi schools were introduced and modeled after U.S. legislation (Alquraini, 2012), teachers in Saudi tend to teach students with autism separately and not in an inclusive environment. The negative responses gathered through the survey seemed to relate to a fear of possible problem behavior from students and insufficient awareness of the characteristics of autism. Recommendations were made for additional exploration into teacher training using various technology applications.
  • Assessing Pedagogical Balance in a Simulated Classroom Environment (2015). Published by the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. 
    Abstract: simSchool, an online simulator that has been used to enhance teacher preparation since 2003, models different types of students and provides virtual practice sessions for teachers to assign tasks and interact with students. In this article the authors (a) examine changes in preservice teacher perceptions of teaching confidence and teaching experience resulting from simSchool use, and (b) report findings from recent studies of a new proposed measure for simSchool data, pedagogical balance. Pedagogical balance is a difference score that measures preservice teachers' self-reported levels of confidence minus experience, which indicates a level of alignment in self-evaluation when balancing one's perceptions of capabilities and experience. Findings from two studies show that preservice teachers significantly (p < .05) improve pedagogical balance and increase awareness of effective teaching skills through simSchool training.
  • Alignment of Hands-On STEM Engagement Activities with Positive STEM Dispositions in Secondary School Students (2015). Published by the Journal of Science Education and Technology. 
    Abstract: This study examines positive dispositions reported by middle school and high school students participating in programs that feature STEM-related activities. Middle school students participating in school-to-home hands-on energy monitoring activities are compared to middle school and high school students in a different project taking part in activities such as an after-school robotics program. Both groups are compared and contrasted with a third group of high school students admitted at the eleventh grade to an academy of mathematics and science. All students were assessed using the same science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) dispositions instrument. Findings indicate that the after-school group whose participants self-selected STEM engagement activities, and the self-selected academy of mathematics and science group, each had highly positive STEM dispositions comparable to those of STEM professionals, while a subset of the middle school whole-classroom energy monitoring group that reported high interest in STEM as a career, also possessed highly positive STEM dispositions comparable to the STEM Professionals group. The authors conclude that several different kinds of hands-on STEM engagement activities are likely to foster or maintain positive STEM dispositions at the middle school and high school levels, and that these highly positive levels of dispositions can be viewed as a target toward which projects seeking to interest mainstream secondary students in STEM majors in college and STEM careers, can hope to aspire. Gender findings regarding STEM dispositions are also reported for these groups.
  • Teaching Engineering Concepts Through a Middle School Transmedia Book (2015). Published by TechTrends. 
    Abstract: This article describes the background and experiences of three graduate students who co-authored a print-based transmedia book during the summer of 2013. The article provides information about why the transmedia engineering book was designed and provides an overview of the book’s creation process. The project was funded through a National Science Foundation grant awarded to the Department of Learning Technologies at a large North American university. The transmedia book focused on providing learning opportunities for middle school students taking part in the agricultural engineering process to solve authentic tasks through problem-solving and technology. Quick Response (QR) codes, web resources, and fabrication manipulatives (2-dimensional cutter and 3-dimensional fabricator) were integrated into the content of the book. A companion website was created as a resource.