Funding opportunities

Understanding Learning Differences in Context

Stanford researchers were invited to submit interdisciplinary research proposals on learning differences and/or the future of special education for projects funded up to $80,000 for a one year project.


Despite the catalytic potential of interdisciplinary research, special education and dis/ability research has been historically siloed within disciplines, such as education, learning sciences, medicine, neuroscience, humanities, public policy, psychiatry, and technology. Currently, only a handful of research efforts across the U.S. are working on interdisciplinary discovery and development.

Recent advances in neuroscience, data analytics, learning sciences, and medicine offer new opportunities to advance knowledge. Progress in technology, artificial intelligence, and contextual analysis can render scientific advances into effective solutions. Policy, law, and economics offer new opportunities for ensuring access and opportunity through repositioning the social, legal, and economic underpinnings of community life and education. These frontiers require engagement from the humanities to continue to ensure that development and application are mediated by human considerations of culture, language, ethics, and the expression of the human soul.

We encouraged interdisciplinary research submissions that advance asset-based approaches to pressing challenges facing individuals with learning differences. Successful applications catalyzed creative and transformative research to improve learning outcomes for students aged 5 through 21. With a preference for early career investigators, this funding was open to all Stanford faculty and post-docs who include research collaborators from one or more disciplines, to foster the development of interdisciplinary networks. Proposals focused on one or more of the following:

  1. The design of learning environments, learning tools, and/or learning practices that address equity issues (e.g., challenges related to access or opportunities) involving learners with learning differences. This may include but is not limited to challenges that require the integration of anthropological, architectural, archaeological, biological, cultural, environmental, legal, sociological, and technological perspectives on learning.
  2. Understanding of learning differences across sensory, physical, cognitive, and/or social/emotional dimensions of human capacity within specific contexts.
  3. Assessments of human and/or institutional capacities, particularly in the contexts of education, medicine, policy, and psychology and interdisciplinary responses (e.g. re-framings, interventions) to advance inclusive education agendas.

Applications are currently closed

2021-2022 Awardees

Trans-Semiosis and Fairness in the Design of Testing Accommodations/Accessibility Resources for Students with Special Needs

Principal investigators: Guillermo Solano-Flores, Ramon Martinez

Bayesian Modeling of Individual Differences in Self-Directed Learning Based on Observed Attention Allocation Patterns

Principal investigators: Nick Haber, Thomas Robinson, Bryon Reeves, Nilam Ram

Searching for Solutions: DisCrit & Disproportionality

Principal investigators: Subini Annamma, Ralph Banks

Bridge to Learning - Academic Life Coaching for Students with ADHD

Principal investigators: Victor Carrión, Chris Lemons,

Tuning into Learner Differences in Sensory vs. Integrative Experiences of the World: Crossing Boundaries of Speech and Music

Principal investigator: Bruce McCandliss

Illuminating the Textures of Disability-Race Intersections: An Interdisciplinary Study of Larry P’s Classification Trajectories

Principal investigators: Alfredo Artiles, Mike Hines