School of Education Alumna LeJeune Awarded Full Funding for Graduate Study at Vanderbilt



School of Education alumna Lauren LeJeune

Lauren LeJeune, a two-time education alumna from the College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE), was awarded full funding—including tuition and health insurance—to attend Vanderbilt University and pursue doctoral research in the field of special education.

LeJeune’s passion for education grows as her personal schooling continues. She decided to earn a master’s degree after finishing her undergraduate, and began considering a doctorate after starting the master’s program.

She was in the midst of her third year as a full-time special education teacher at Brusly Elementary and on the brink of completing her Masters of Education (MEd) at CHSE when she applied to Vanderbilt.

LeJeune will continue research in special education, but she’ll use different tactics to amplify the outcomes.

“For my master’s thesis, I was interested in identifying interventions that would benefit students with academic and behavioral challenges in inclusive classrooms,” Lejeune said. “Specifically, I asked teachers to implement the following interventions with six students: increased opportunities to respond (OTR), positive peer reporting (PPR), and a combination of both.”

To increase OTR, teachers provided the students with more chances to answer questions during instruction. During the PPR intervention, a peer partner kept a tally of the appropriate behaviors the participant used during a lesson and reported the total to the teacher or class when the lesson was finished. During each of those interventions, Lejeune measured students’ disruptive behavior, on-task behavior, and correct academic responses.

LeJeune said she suspected that the combination of both interventions would result in the best outcomes, but the school year ended before she and the teachers were able to implement the combination with all students.

“While I was not able to get the results I really wanted, completing this thesis was a fantastic learning experience,” she said. “I would encourage any current master’s student to complete a thesis if they are able, especially if they are considering entering a PhD program.”

Now pursuing a doctorate degree, LeJeune is still working with academically and behaviorally challenged students, but she isn’t using the same interventions. She is currently working on two projects with her adviser, Dr. Chris Lemons, an assistant professor of special education at Vanderbilt.

The first is a small study focused on developing an effective behavioral intervention for a participant from his past reading studies, and the second focuses on adapting a reading comprehension strategy intervention for middle school students with intellectual disabilities.

“I believe that the research I conduct now and in the future will contribute to the knowledge base related to effectively instructing students with academic and behavioral challenges,” Lejeune said. “More specifically, I hope my research has an immediate impact on participants, both students and teachers.”

LeJeune said she also believes the knowledge she gains from research will help her effectively train future teachers and researchers.

Each student in the doctorate program at Peabody College of Vanderbilt is fully funded, but the admissions process is extremely selective. To be admitted, prospective students must have a strong academic record, have field experience, and above-average GRE scores. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation, a professional writing sample, and a personal statement.

LeJeune is funded through a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)—Preparing Special Education Leaders Capable of Linking Intensive Instruction with Common Core Standards. She also received a scholarship from Peabody College at Vanderbilt. Additionally, she receives a stipend for living expenses and support to purchase course materials, travel for conferences, and complete dissertation research.

About SOE
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction and in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues.

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About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

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