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Barbara J. Thompson

Associate Professor Emerita
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Rm. 404
University of Kansas
1122 W. Campus Rd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101


Barbara Thompson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Affiliate Faculty at the Center for Latin American Studies. She focuses particularly on the education of infants and young children with a particular interest in designing learning supports for children with significant health and intellectual needs. Dr. Thompson earned her doctoral degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from the University of Kansas. In 2013, she won the School of Education’s Budig Award for teaching in Special Education.


Teaching Statement

As a teacher educator I hold myself responsible for providing contextually rich and authentic content and experiences that prepare preservice students to become highly qualified special education teachers of children and youth. I believe that the best teachers operate from a value base and a sense of mission, embrace diversity and exhibit perspectives that are culturally sensitive, family focused, and child centered.

Effective teachers are intentional and understand why they do what they do. A decision to implement an educational procedure is based on the strength of a procedure’s evidence base as well the degree of fit it has with the unique characteristics of an individual learner. Accountability is fundamental to these educators’ practice and accomplished through the continuous, databased evaluation of learner performance.

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] asserts that, as teacher educators, we must each involve ourselves in the development of cohesive programs leading to the transformation of educational practice through clinical practice (NCATE, 2010) and create multiple opportunities for our students to meaningfully connect what they are learning with its effective application. I am in concert with this position and view teaching as a clinical practice profession that shares essential characteristics of other clinical professions such as those associated with medicine and psychology (c.f. Alter & Coggshall, 2009, Cohen, 2005, Darling-Hammond, 2006 & Shulman, 1998), as well as the argument espoused by Shulman (1998), that the work of clinical practice professionals has a moral dimension driven by the purpose of service to others and engagement in the pursuit of valued social goals.

Teaching Interests

  • Inclusive early childhood education
  • Curricular approaches and early childhood program models
  • Cultural competence
  • Study abroad
  • Supporting children and families from Latino backgrounds
  • Inclusive education for learners with significant multiple disabilities
  • Addressing the physical and medical management needs of learners with severe disabilities in inclusive classrooms,

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Early Childhood, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1982
  • M.Ed., Mental Retardation & Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 1970
  • B.A., Elementary Education, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1965


Early childhood special education, inclusive early childhood program models, and significant disabilities.

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