Dr. Tracy Gershwin is a full professor at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in special education licensure programs and coordinates the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis (Applied Behavior Analysis International-ABAI approved) program. Dr. Gershwin started her career by receiving a Bachelor of Science in Inclusive Education at Syracuse University. Upon graduation, Dr. Gershwin returned to her home state of California to teach students with disabilities, whereby she quickly faced the “research-to-practice” gap by experiencing major challenges with accessing resources, support, and evidence-based practices for her students. Despite extensive research about best practices for students with disabilities, her students and their families were experiencing major challenges navigating the special education system. These challenges led Dr. Gershwin to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University, and then another Master of Art degree in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), and finally, a PhD in Special Education, Disabilities, and Risk Studies from UCSB. Her dissertation, titled, “A tale of two districts fostering the home-school partnership: Conflict prevention and alternative dispute resolution practices in special education,” entailed a multiple-case study analysis of two school districts that implemented systemwide changes to increase the satisfaction of families who have children with disabilities in response to a high number of due process hearing requests. In 2004, Dr. Gershwin began working as a professor at UNC, where she continues to provide support to undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students.
Throughout her tenure at UNC, Dr. Gershwin received four distinguished awards, including the UNC College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS) outstanding teacher award (twice awarded 2007 and 2017), CEBS outstanding scholar award (awarded 2014), and the Sears-Helgoth Distinguished Teaching Award (awarded 2017). Additionally, Dr. Gershwin has received numerous research grants, including an Office of Special Education Program personnel preparation grant (325K) titled, “Graduate Preparation of an Interdisciplinary Program for Developing Culturally Competent Applied Behavior Analytic Scholars (CABAS) in Special Education and School Psychology,” and a Colorado Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Education Fund grant that included developing an innovative and sustainable partnership between UNC and Weld County School District in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, titled, “Building Resilient and Inclusive Communities for Young Children and their Families.”
Dr. Gershwin has experience as a special education teacher for children and youth with disabilities grades K-12, and as a behavior analyst in schools, homes, and the community. Dr. Gershwin is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst- doctoral distinction (BCBA-D), and a trained mediator who specializes in teacher preparation, family-professional partnership practices, special education law and ethics, conflict prevention and alternative dispute resolution in special education, applied behavior analysis, interventions for children and youth with challenging behaviors, and trauma-informed practices in schools. Dr. Gershwin continues to provide behavioral consultation in schools, as well as providing national trainings, webinars, and keynote presentations for state education agencies, parent training and information centers, and school districts.
Dr. Gershwin is recognized as one of the leading researchers in conflict prevention and alternative dispute resolution in special education, including research about the Facilitated Individualized Education Program meeting model. She has published numerous articles, book chapters, and is one of the authors in the 8th edition of the leading textbook, “Families and Professionals: Trusting Partnerships in General and Special Education.”