University of California, Riverside

Faculty Profile System



Sharon Duffy


Sharon Duffy

Dean for UCR Extension, Professor

Graduate School of Education
0337 UNEX, Extension Center
(951) 827-4102
sharon.duffy@ucr.edu

Research Areas

  • My primary research focus is on the conceptualization and diagnosis of intellectual disability and, within that, I study the construct of adaptive behavior and its measurement. Limitations in adaptive skills are required for a diagnosis of intellectual disability.
  • My initial research was on the development of adaptive behavior and residential placement of persons with developmental disabilities and from there I began to look at educational placement of special education students.
  • My dissertation was on measuring quality of life, which is a way of looking at whether decisions about placements are good ones. Does it improve a person’s quality of life to be placed in one setting over another? Because quality of life is rather abstract and subjective, measurement is a challenge.

Current Curriculum Vitae

Degrees

  • B.S., Behavioral Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • M.A., Special Education, University of California, Riverside
  • Ph.D., Special Education, University of California, Riverside

Biography

Watch the Dr. Duffy Video Profile

Favorite Quote:

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” My sixth grade teacher wrote this in a card that I saved.

What I like about being at the GSOE:

I like the faculty and their commitment to research that has both theoretical and practical applications. I also think the faculty’s commitment to students and their willingness to individualize students’ educational experiences is really exceptional.

Only at UCR's GSOE do you find:

Students and faculty who are passionate about research that impacts policy and practice in education, and an unbelievable staff.

How I discovered my professional passion:

My first position after receiving my bachelor’s degree was with a UCLA research group that was located at a developmental center for people with intellectual disabilities. I did research there for 17 years, and while I was there, I worked with UCLA faculty in the Neuropsychiatric Institute and UCR faculty in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology Department. I supervised UCLA and UCR undergraduate students who would spend six months in a residential research practicum at the center. I worked with them on research projects that were on topics of mutual interest. That was when I realized I wanted to conduct research and work with students in a university setting. I was delighted to join the UCR faculty in 1990.

What reading do you have on your nightstand right now?

Right now, I’m reading Scott McClellan’s book called What Happened, and Sunset and Bon Appetit magazines.

How my students have influenced-and inspired- me:

Most of my students come in with a great deal of experience in the field of special education and with ideas related to their experiences that challenge me to think about what I know in different ways. They have creative ideas that sometimes lead to research questions that integrate their experiences with their academic preparation in our program. For example, I have a student who just finished her Ph.D. who had taught in a high school special education setting and, after decades of observing students, was very interested in the way that high school special education students do “impression management,” which involves strategies they use to appear as students without disabilities. If she had not been in that setting, with a keen eye to notice subtle behaviors, she might not have come up with her idea for her dissertation study. Her findings gave me and others new insights about special education. I would not have come up with her question because I haven’t had the experiences she’s had in the high school setting.

The best question a student has asked you?

A student once asked me for advice about when she and her husband should start their family—during or after graduate school. It reminded me that our graduate students also have personal lives that are affected by their commitment to their graduate studies.

A favorite book from childhood?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Leisure activities:

I like to watch soccer. I like photography and amateur video editing - I also like cooking and trying new recipes. I enjoy doing just about anything with my husband and daughter

Publications

  • Luckasson, R., Borthwick-Duffy, S.A., Buntix, W., Coulter, D., Craig, E. M., Reeve, A., Schalock, R., Snell, M., Spitalnik, D., Spreat, S., & Tasse, M. (2002). Mental retardation: Definition, classification, and systems of supports- 10th Edition. Washington D.C.: American Association on Mental Retardation.
  • Parke, R.D., Borthwick-Duffy, S.A., Buriel, R., Coltrane, S., French, S. (2003). The role of parent and student perceptions in the educational achievement of language minority students. UCOP Language Minority Research Institute (LMRI) grant, final report.
  • Parke, R.D., Coltrane, S., Duffy, S., Buriel, R., Dennis, J., Powers, J., French, S., Widaman, K.F. (2004). Economic stress, parenting, and child adjustment in Mexican American and European American families. Child Development, 75, 1632-1656.
  • McLaughlin, M. J., Blacher, J., Duffy, S., Hardman, M., McDonnell, J., Nisbet, J., Safer, N., & Snell, M. (2005). Effective education in the least restrictive setting. In K. C. Lakin & A. Turnbull (Eds.) National goals and research for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (pp. 39-63). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.
  • Borthwick-Duffy, S. (2006). Adaptive Behavior. In Jacobson, J., Mulick, J., Rojahn, J. (Eds.), Jacobson’s Handbook of Intellectual and Mental Disability, (pp. 279-293). San Diego: Springer.
  • Schalock, R.L., Borthwick-Duffy, S.A., et al. (2010). Intellectual Disability; Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports. Washington, D.C.: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 
  • Schalock, R. L., Borthwick-Duffy, S.A., et al. (2010). Intellectual Disability; Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports. Washington, D.C.: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 
  • Tasse, M.J., Schalock, R.L., Baloni, G., Bersani, H., Borthwick-Duff, S.A., Spreat, S. (2012). The construct of adaptive behavior: Its conceptualization, measurement, and use in the field of intellectual disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 
  • Tasse, M.J., Schalock, R.L., Baloni, G., Bersani, H., Borthwick-Duff, S.A., Spreat, S. (2012). The construct of adaptive behavior: Its conceptualization, measurement, and use in the field of intellectual disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 
  • Tasse, M., Schalock, R.L., Thissen, D., Balboni, G., Bersani, H., Borthwick‐Duffy, S.A., Spreat, S., Widaman, K. F., Zhang, D. (2016). Development and Standardization of the Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale: Application of Item Response Theory to the Assessment of Adaptive Behavior. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
 
 

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
E-mail: robert.wolfer@ucr.edu
 
 

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Last Modified: 6/30/17