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Robai Werunga

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Robai N Werunga, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction

Expertise

Single case Design Research
Multi-tiered systems of Support
Early literacy and behavioral Intervention.
Immigrant Family empowerment and engagement

Research Interests

Early academic and behavioral interventions; Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); Culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners; Family and school relations; Immigrant family empowerment.

Education

  • Ph D: Special Education, (2018), University of North Carolina at Charlotte - Charlotte, NC
  • M.A.: Special Education, (2005), Fayetteville State University - Fayetteville, NC
  • B.Ed: Arts, (1995), Egerton University - Nakuru, Kenya, Swahili and Religious Studies

Biosketch

Robai Werunga, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Her research focus is in early academic and behavioral interventions through multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). Dr. Werunga' s target population is students with or at-risk for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and/or Learning Disabilities with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners. In addition, Werunga does research on strategies that foster and promote meaningful family and school relations as well as family engagement. Werunga has a keen interest in cultural responsiveness in teaching and explores this topic within her teaching and scholarship. Currently, Werunga teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Education. Werunga has over 20 years' experience working with individuals with disabilities; sixteen of those years were spent working directly with students with disabilities within grade school. She has taught in both separate and inclusive settings and designed instruction for students in both settings. She is a member of the council for exceptional children (CEC) with active membership on several divisions, including Division of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners (DDEL- Secretary), Division of International Special Education and Service (DISES- MAL), and the Teacher Education Division (TED). In addition, Dr. Werunga is a member of the Association for Positive Behavior Supports (APBS), and chairs the Programming committee of CEC'S Project 20/20.

Selected Awards and Honors

2021 - Member Spotlight, Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES). I was nominated and selected by the DISES membership committee for my scholarship and service with regards to supporting global special education endeavors abroad and here in the US.
2017- The E.G "Ted" Carr Outstanding Poster Award (APBS 2017, Denver CO)

Selected Publications

Lo, Y., Kourea, L., Werunga, R. N., Owens, T., & Collins, B. C. (In press). Embedding Parental Input in Instruction of SWPBS Behavioral Expectations for African American Students. Preventing school Fail
McKenna, J., Brigham F., Zurawski, L., Koc, M., Lavin, C., Garwood, J., & Werunga R. (In press). A systematic review of intervention studies for young children with emotional and/or behavioral disorders: Identifying the research base. Review of Educational Research
Werunga, R.N. (2020) Writing Instructional Strategies for Elementary Age Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities. In McKenna, J., & Adamson, R. Pulling Back the Curtain: Inclusive Instruction for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. New York, NY: Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield.
Werunga, R.N. (2020). The state of homeless black and brown students with disabilities in the era of COVID 19. DDEL Voices (DDEL Quarterly Newsletter) Volume 10, Issue 2. Page 4-7.
Rivera, C; Haughney, K; Clark, K; Werunga, R (2020). Culturally Responsive Planning, Instruction, and Reflection for Young Students with Significant Disabilities. Young Exceptional Children. DOI: DOI: 10.1177/1096250620951767
McKenna, J. W., Garwood, J. D., & Werunga, R. (2020). Reading instruction for secondary grade students with emotional and behavioral disorders: A focus on comprehension. Beyond Behavior, 29, 18-30.
Kourea, L., Gibson, L., & Werunga, R. N (2017). Culturally responsive reading instruction for students with learning disabilities. Intervention in Schools and Clinic,53. 1-10.

Selected Presentations

Werunga, R.N., Minjeong K, Rosales, R, McKenna, J. (March 2021). Cambodian American Parents' Knowledge of Special Education Services Provided to their Children with Disabilities. Presentation at the 2021 Virtual Council for Exceptional Children conference via L.I.V.E!
Redmond, P., Jez, R. J., Hersey, P., Reid, T., & Werunga, R. (2020). Our profession is political: Advancing equity and democratic activism through culturally responsive teacher dispositions. Recorded paper presented at a meeting of the National Association of Multicultural Education Virtual Conference.
Werunga, R.N, Minjeong K, Rosales, R, McKenna, J, Lo, Y. (February 2020). Empowering Immigrant Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds to Advocate for and Support their Children with Disabilities, Presentation at the annual Council for Exceptional Children conference, Portland Oregon
Werunga, R.N. (November 2019). Using SRSD with social skills prompts to improve writing and behavior. Presentation at the annual Massachusetts Council for Exceptional Children, Norwood, MA
Werunga, R.N., Muharib, R., Roberson, C. (November 2019). Mastering the skills for a successful academic job search. Presentation at the Annual TED conference, New Orleans LA.
Werunga, R.N. (November 2019). Leveraging the cultural capital of CLD parents through training. Presentation at the Annual TED conference, New Orleans LA.
Haughney, K., Clark, K., & Werunga, R.N. (November 2019). CLD teaching and learning in action: Planning, implementing and reflecting. Presentation at the Annual TED conference, New Orleans LA.
Werunga, R.N. (June 2019). Lost in translation: examining the barriers to effective involvement of parents of students with disabilities from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Presentation at the annual DISES conference, Montego Bay Jamaica
Zurawski, L., McKenna, J., Brigham, F., Koc, M., Lavin, C., Garwood, J., & Werunga, R. (April 2019). A systematic review of interventions for young children with EBD. Paper session to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Toronto, Canada
Werunga, R.N. (February 2019). Addressing Writing and Social Skills Deficits of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities alongside SRSD Instruction. CEC Conference, Indianapolis
Werunga, R.N. (November 2018). Effects of the Self-Regulated Strategy Development with Social Skills Prompts on Writing and Problem Behavior of Students with EBD. Presentation at the CEC-TED Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
Werunga, R.N. (November 2018). Empowering Families to Support Students with Disabilities from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds. Presentation at the CEC-TED Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
Werunga, R.N. (March 2018). Combining SRSD and self-monitoring to improve writing and self-monitoring Skills of students with EBD. Invited Presenter, Association of Positive Behavior Support Conference, San Diego, CA.
Lo, Y., Owen. T.L., Werunga, R.N., Gladney, D. (February 2018). Culturally Responsive Social skill instruction within SWPBS implementation. Accepted as STRAND B, Session 2: Presentation with Q&A, at Council for Exceptional Children conference, Tampa, FL.
Werunga, RN. (February 2018). Addressing writing and Off-Task Behaviors of African American Students with EBD through SRSD persuasive writing instruction. Council for Exceptional Children conference, Tampa, FL.
Werunga, R.N. (November 2017). The current state of writing instruction in the K-12 public schools. Presentation at the CEC-TED Conference, Savannah, GA.
Werunga, R.N. (November, 2017). Effects of SRSD and self-monitoring on writing and off-task behaviors of African American students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Presentation at the CEC-TED Conference, Savannah, GA.
Haughney, K. L., Muharib, R., Werunga, R., Park, G., Collins, B. (2017, November). Teacher preparation across nations: An exploratory comparison of experiences. Conversation session as part of the national Teacher Education Division Conference, Savannah, G.A.
Werunga, R.N. (June, 2017). A culturally responsive social skills curriculum for African American students in tier 2 SWPBS. Presented at the Annual Global Perspectives Conference, Arlington, VA.
Werunga, R.N, Owens, Lo, Y., Kourea L., T., & Collins, B. C. (2017, April). Effects of culturally responsive social skills instruction on rule violation of African American students on tier 2 SWPBS. Presentation at the annual Council for Exceptional Children conference, Boston, MA.
Werunga, R.N & Lo, Y. (2017, March). Using SRSD persuasive writing to improve writing and self-monitoring skills. Presentation at the Annual Association of Positive Behavior Support conference, Denver, CO.
Werunga, R.N & Lo, Y. (2017, April). Examining the effects of SRSD persuasive writing and self-monitoring on writing and off-task behaviors of African American students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Presentation at the Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners (DDEL) student research forum, Boston, MA

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

PI - University of Massachusetts Lowell, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Sustainability Engagement & Enrichment Development (S.E.E.D.) Fund

Empowering Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds to Advocate for and Support their Children with Disabilities