Associate Professor, Deaf Education
Kimberly Wolbers is an associate professor in the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at the University of Tennessee. She earned her PhD from Michigan State University in 2007 in special education with a concentration in literacy. Wolbers is also a nationally certified interpreter through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). She received her interpreter training from Lansing Community College in 1999.
Her primary research agenda has involved the design and implementation of language and writing instruction with deaf and hard-of-hearing (d/hh) students. She has conceptualized an approach called Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) which aims to be responsive to the unique language needs of the d/hh. SIWI draws on evidence-based writing practices used with all learners such as strategy instruction in writing and interactive approaches to writing. There are additional elements drawn from second language writing theory and language acquisition theory that provide direction, for example, with language translation between ASL and English or with expressive language delays. Studies to this point describe SIWI as an effective practice for use with students who have mild to severe hearing losses and who use various communication methodologies such as ASL, speech, English-based sign, or who exhibit severe delays in a primary language. There is evidence that SIWI has a statistically significant impact on students’ expressive language, word identification abilities, motivation, and writing outcomes at the word, sentence and discourse levels. Recent SIWI publications and grants are listed below.
Select SIWI Publications
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Skerrit, P. & Stephenson, B. (in press). A three-year study of a professional development program’s impact on teacher knowledge and classroom implementation of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction. Submitted to Journal of Educational Research. doi: 10.1080/00220671.2015.1039112
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Graham, S., Cihak, D., Kilpatrick, J., & Saulsburry, R. (2015). The writing performance of elementary students receiving Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 20(4), 385-398. doi: 10.1093/deafed/env022
Dostal, H., Bowers, L., Wolbers, K. & Gabriel, R. (2015). “We are authors”: A qualitative analysis of deaf students’ writing during one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). Review of Disability Studies, 11(2), 1-19.
Wolbers, K, Graham, S.C., Dostal, H. & Bowers, L. (2014). A description of ASL features in writing. Ampersand, 1, 19-27. doi: 10.1016/j.amper.2014.11.001. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amper.2014.11.001
Dostal, H. & Wolbers, K. (2014). Developing language and writing skills of deaf and hard of hearing students: A simultaneous approach. Literacy Research and Instruction, 53(3), 245-268. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2014.907382.
Wolbers, K., Bowers, L., Dostal, H., & Graham, S.C. (2013). Deaf writers’ application of ASL knowledge to English. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1-19. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2013.816262
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Bowers, L. (2012). “I was born full deaf.” Written language outcomes after one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 17(1), 19-38. doi:10.1093/deafed/enr018
Wolbers, K. (2010). Using ASL and print-based sign to build fluency and greater independence with written English among deaf students. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 10(1), 99-125. Retrieved from http://l1.publication-archive.com/public?fn=enter&repository=1
Wolbers, K. (2008). Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): Apprenticing deaf students in the construction of English text. ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 156, 299-326. doi:10.2143/ITL.156.0.2034441
Wolbers, K. (2008). Using balanced and interactive writing instruction to improve the higher order and lower order writing skills of deaf students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 13(2), 255-277. doi:10.1093/deafed/enm052
Select SIWI Grants
Research & Development
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., & Graham, S. (August 2012 – July 2016). Development of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) for later elementary deaf and hard of hearing students. Funded by Institute of Education Sciences (IES), $1,156,576.
Instruction or Training Programs
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Stephenson, B. & Bowden, H. (January 2014 – December 2014). SIWI gets to the Core! Reading and Writing in the Content Areas. Funded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $75,000.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Stephenson, B. & Bowden, H. (January 2012 – December 2012). Write On! Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $75,000.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Stephenson, B. (January 2010 – December 2011). Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): A Two-year focus on the language and literacy development of deaf and linguistically diverse students. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $167,000.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Stephenson, B. (January 2009 – December 2009). Evidence-based language and literacy interventions for the deaf and language delayed. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $75,000.