Case Study: University of New Mexico – Transforming Special Education Programs

The FluidSurveys’ Featured Customer is an on-going series dedicated to showcasing our customers and the great projects they work on using our survey software. This month, we are thrilled to feature Dr. Margo Collier. Dr. Collier is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Education Specialties at the University of New Mexico’s College of Education, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Evaluating Special Education Programs

The Department of Education Specialties is working to facilitate the development of supportive, effective, and culturally responsive environments for individuals with special needs and their families. In line with the mandate of this department, Dr. Collier is working with special needs children, their families, and their teachers for a collaborative approach to educational program design.

“I’ve developed an assessment tool called the Transition Competency Questionnaire. This questionnaire looks at 10 broad areas in the scope of the child’s life, like Academic, Functionality, Understanding of the Law, Level of Independence, Awareness of their Disability, and Direction of their Lives. This gives parents and teachers a lot of insight, and because it is a self-reported tool, it gives the child a voice.” – Dr. Collier

With special needs children making up 10-25% of the student population at most high schools, having a plan that is tailored to that child’s specific needs is instrumental in preparing our future generation.


Using FluidSurveys in the Field

Dr. Collier chose to do her assessment with an online tool for its’ immediacy and ease of deployment, but most importantly, for the way it allowed her to connect with her respondents.

“When I do research, I need to be sure I can reach out to a community of teachers, parents, and children across the State of New Mexico. My job is about relationships, communication, and data, and FluidSurveys allows me to connect with people, get opinions, and analyze data quickly. The ability to get feedback and let people know that their voice matters is critical…it’s magic. – Dr. Collier 

Dr. Collier did something really innovative in her FluidSurveys questionnaire that drastically improved the results of her research.

“Before, I wasn’t able to analyze certain information because I couldn’t get respondents to sign off on data. Now, I can include electronic consent forms with the Signature Question type, which allows respondents to give their consent digitally. This has upped the availability of data that can be used phenomenally.”  – Dr. Collier 


Next Steps

Dr. Collier’s assessment tool is a wrap-around approach that is replacing the standard medical model. Because her questionnaire is easy to use, more teachers and school districts are getting on board. There has also been a positive impact on the children and families involved. This positive impact has lead Dr. Collier to her next big project:

“Just this week, I’m reaching out to 89 school districts to show the need for this program. I’m working on writing grants and I’ve got my team working on developing more surveys.” – Dr. Collier 

Thanks to her research, Dr. Collier has recently launched a documentary that looks at the art of communication to help both parents and children with special needs.

More about the Special Education Program at the College of Education


A paradigm shift is underway in special education, driven, in part, by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind. The new approach to special education centers on the belief that children of all learning abilities — including those with physical and mental differences — should learn together, have equal access to the general education curriculum, and have the supports they need to lead fulfilling lives. For more information, please see the University of New Mexico’s website.

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Shannon McCluskey

Shannon is a marketing specialist at Fluidware. She is passionate about sharing knowledge on the latest survey insights and product features. Shannon is also very active in the local technology community, and mentors startups on marketing strategy.
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