University of California, Riverside

Faculty Profile System

Rollanda O'Connor

Rollanda O'Connor

Professor, Eady/Hendrick Chair

Graduate School of Education
2134 Sproul Hall
(951) 827-6052

Research Areas

My research centers on reading acquisition and reading difficulties of students from kindergarten through 8th grade.  Most of my work involves development and testing of interventions that can be used in public school to improve the reading skills and comprehension of struggling learners, including students who are English Language Learners and students with disabilities.  We monitor what works and for whom, and how to increase the intensity of instruction for students who need learning support.

BRIDGES (Building Reading Interventions Designed for General Education Subjects)

How do poor readers in middle school master the concepts of United States History, which requires reading multisyllabic words, learning new vocabulary, and analyzing history texts and historical documents?  The answer has seemed to be: they don’t, or at least not very well. 

Faculty in the GSOE, Riverside Unified School District staff and administrators, and UCR doctoral and postdoctoral students are working collaboratively over the next few years to find a way.  In our first year, we are teaching 38 eighth grade students who read below a 5th grade equivalent level  to break apart multisyllabic words and read them accurately (e.g., constitution, legislative, revolutionary), and to read historical materials that contain these words.  We meet weekly with the school’s history teacher experts to identify key concepts and relationships, and develop graphic organizers to display, discuss, and learn history.  It’s hard work: our team teaches five small instructional groups daily, 4 days a week from 7:30-2:30 to improve students’ reading skills alongside their learning of history.  After school we coordinate with history teachers and then return to the drawing board at the university to improve our instructional methods and prepare materials for the next instructional cycle.  Our sample student population is heterogeneous, with approximately half receiving special education services, English Language Learner services, or both.

The research is funded through a 3-year grant from the Institute of Education Sciences and includes Drs. Rollanda O’Connor, Kathleen Bocian, John Wills, Tori Sanchez, and Kristen Beach at UCR, along with Dr. Lindsay Flynn (University of North Carolina) and UCR graduate students Olivia Chan, Sarana Roberts, and Christy Liao.


  • Ph.D. Education, Special Education and Reading 1992, University of Washington
  • M.Ed. Special Education, High Incidence Disabilities 1978, University of Washington
  • B.A. English & Library Science 1971, University of Washington


Rollanda E. O'Connor is Professor and Eady/Hendrick Chair in Learning Disabilities in the Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on increasing the responsiveness of children to reading interventions in Grades K-4 including the effects of Tier 2 intervention for English Learners across the first five years of reading development, and interventions to improve reading skills of 8th graders with LD and other disabilities.

Current Curriculum Vitae



Research Articles:

  • O’Connor, R.E., Sanchez, V., Beach, K., Bocian, K. (September 15, 2016, In Press). Special education teachers integrating reading with 8th grade U.S. History.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. \

  • La Marca, J.P. & O’Connor, R.E. (2016). Neurofeedback as an intervention to improve reading achievement in students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, inattentive subtype.  NeuroRegulation, 3, 55-77.

  • Sanchez, V. & O’Connor, R.E. (2015). Building Tier 3 Intervention for Long-term Slow Growers in Grades 3-4: A Pilot Study. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.

  • Beach, K.D., Sanchez, V., Flynn, L., & O’Connor, R.E. (2015). Teaching academic vocabulary to adolescents with learning disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 48, 36-44.
  • O’Connor, R.E., Beach, K., Sanchez, V. Bocian, K., & Flynn, L. (2015). Building BRIDGES: A Design Experiment to Improve Reading and United States History Knowledge of Poor Readers in 8th Grade. Exceptional Children, 81, 399-425.
  • Beach, K.D., & O’Connor, R.E. (2015). Early Response-to-Intervention Measures and Criteria as Predictors of Reading Disability in the Beginning of Third Grade. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48, 196-223.
  • Beach, K.D., & O’Connor, R.E. (2014). Developing and strengthening reading fluency and comprehension of poor readers in elementary school: A focused review of research. Perspectives on Language and Literacy. Summer, 2014, 17- 19.
  • Orosco, M. J., & O’Connor, R. (2014). Culturally responsive instruction for English language learners with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47, 515-531.
  • Connor, C., Compton, D., Alberto, P., & O’Connor, R.E. (2014). Improving Reading Outcomes for Students With or at Risk for Reading Disabilities: A Synthesis of the Contributions from the Institute of Education Sciences Research Centers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. 
  • O’Connor, R.E., Bocian, K., Beach, K., & Sanchez, T.  (2014). Access to a Responsiveness to Intervention model: Does beginning intervention in kindergarten matter? Journal of Learning Disabilities,
  • Ayala, S., & O’Connor, R.E. (2013).  The Effects of Video Self-modeling on the Decoding Skills of Children.  Learning Disabilities Research  & Practice, 28, 142-154.
  • O’Connor, R.E., Bocian, K.M., Sanchez, V., Beach, K.D., & Flynn, L.J. (2013). Special education in a four-year response to intervention (RtI) environment: Characteristics of students with learning disability and grade of identification.  Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 28, 98-112.
  • O’Connor, R.E., Gutierrez, G., Knight-Teague, K., Checca, C.J., Sun, J., & Ho, T. (2013). Variations in practice time reading aloud: 10 versus 20 minutes.  Scientific Studies of Reading17, 134-162.
  • O'Connor, R.E., & Klingner, J.K. (2010). Poor Responders in Responsiveness to Intervention Models. Theory into Practice, 49, 297-304.
  • O'Connor, R.E., Swanson, H.L., & Geraghty (2010). Improvement in reading rate under independent and difficult text levels: Influences on word and comprehension skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 1-19.
  • O'Connor, R.E., Bocian, K., Beebe-Frankenberger, M., & Linklater,D. (2010). Responsiveness of students with language difficulties to early intervention in reading.  Journal of Special Education, 43, 220-235.

  • PI, Vocabulary CHAAOS: Creating Habits Accelerating Academic Language of
    Students, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, IES, 2016-2019,

  • How do students learn academic language?

    • Many students gain most of their advanced vocabulary through the wide reading they do in and out of school.  Students who have disabilities that affect reading (for example, students with learning disabilities or mild cognitive impairments), students who are learning English as well as learning to read, and other students who read below grade level may not read enough text and text at a sufficiently high level to learn the academic language needed to succeed in their course work in middle and high school.

A new 3-year, $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences awarded to O’Connor will develop procedures for teaching academic words to students who read well below grade level in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  Vocabulary CHAAOS (Creating Habits that Accelerate the Academic language OfStudents) begins this year in three local middle schools and includes the team of Professor Rollanda O’Connor, Drs. Kathleen Bocian, Victoria Sanchez, and Kerri Knight-Teague in the GSOE, Dr. Kristen Beach at the University of North Carolina, and graduate student researchers Joyce Kim, Mima Laptes-Frangu, Guadalupe Guzman, Brian Jones, Jennifer Kong, Olivia Chan, and Kerry Kisinger.

  • PI, BRIDGES: Building Reading Interventions Designed for General Education
    Subjects, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, IES, 2012-2016,

  • PI, Leading Excellence for Academic Positions in Special Education, supported by
    the U.S. Department of Education, OSEP Leadership H325D110015, 2012-2016,


More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Graduate School of Education
1207 Sproul Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5234
Fax: (951) 827-3942


Last Modified: 1/4/17