Research Spotlight: Nicholas Gage

Nicholas Gage

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

My specific research interests focus on the application and advancement of diverse research methods and statistical procedures in special education research broadly, but an emphasis on research addressing the needs of students with or at-risk for emotional and/or behavioral disorders. Specifically, I am interested in identifying policies and practices at the national, state, local, and classroom level to support the academic, social, and behavioral needs of students with or at-risk for emotional and/or behavioral disorders.

To that end, my questions focus on malleable factors predictive of positive student outcomes. For example, can teachers increase their use of evidence-based classroom management strategies and do those strategies improve student classroom behavior? Relatedly, I focus on the measurement of both teacher strategy use and student behavior using direct observation procedures to ensure accurate and reliable estimates of both teacher and student behaviors. Further, I believe that collaboration among researchers in the field of special education is critical to moving our science forward, and I actively seek partnership opportunities that allow me to lend my research and methodological expertise to existing content experts.

What makes your work interesting?

My work aims to improve student behavior (both academic and social), which is among the leading reasons teachers leave the profession. By identifying what works and helping teachers efficiently and effectively implement effective practices, we can significantly improve the experiences of both teachers and students. Personally, what drives my research and what I find most interesting is figuring out why I turned out so different from the students I support. Growing up, I experienced many of the predictors of emotional and/or behavioral disorders, including high poverty, limited adult supervision, and a desire to escape. What drives my research is the need to know why I did not end up like so many others, why I did not get suspended, expelled, or dropout of school.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on improving teachers’ classroom management using a multi-tiered professional development model. In addition, I am working with two senior research teams at other institutions identify the most salient classroom and behavior management strategies based on large data sets of direct observations of teachers. In addition, I continue to provide statistical support for a number of early literacy initiatives and am currently evaluating Project ADePT in the School of Teaching and Learning. Lastly, I continue to develop and teach the only meta-analysis course at the University of Florida, attracting students from across multiple colleges at UF.