Kimberly A. Wolbers, Ph.D.
Kimberly Wolbers is an Associate Professor of the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education. She earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2007 in special education with a concentration in literacy. Kimberly is also a nationally certified interpreter through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). She received her interpreter training from Lansing Community College in 1999.
Kimberly's primary research agenda has involved the design and implementation of language and writing instruction with deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) students. She has conceptualized an approach called Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) which aims to be responsive to the unique language needs of the d/hh. SIWI draws on evidence-based writing practices used with all learners such as strategy instruction in writing and interactive approaches to writing. There are additional elements drawn from second language writing theory and language acquisition theory that are specific to d/hh writers and provide direction, for example, in the handling of expressive language delays and/or language translation. Studies to this point describe SIWI as an effective practice for use with students who have mild to severe hearing losses and who use various communication methodologies such as ASL, speech, English-based sign, or who exhibit severe delays in a primary language. There is evidence that SIWI has a statistically significant impact on students' expressive language, word identification abilities, motivation, and writing outcomes at the word, sentence and discourse levels. Recent SIWI publications and grants are listed below.
Kimberly has taught a variety of courses including deaf education courses, writing, writing instruction, American Sign Language, action research and multicultural education courses. For the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at the University of Tennessee, she primarily teaches language development and literacy methods courses. Her passion for teaching and learning, especially in the area of language, literacy and deafness, is fueled by her previous trials, tribulations and triumphs as a middle and high school teacher of the deaf. Operating under the belief that students who experience a strong teacher education program are more likely to be capable, knowledgeable and effective teachers out in the field who then positively impact their students, Kimberly makes every attempt to model effective pedagogical practices in the classroom.
Kimberly enjoys international consulting, as well as visiting school programs and interacting with Deaf communities in various parts of the world. She has experience conversing with deaf individuals across the globe, including Europe, South America, Africa and the Caribbean. In 2007 and 2008, she was part of a team, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), to examine conditions of students in Trinidad and Tobago with special education needs and the capacity of the education system to serve them effectively. In 2010 and 2011, she partnered with her colleague, Jeffrey Davis, the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Interpreters for the Deaf (TTAID) and Deaf community members to develop an interpreter evaluation and certification system for active interpreters.
Select SIWI Publications
Wolbers, K., Bowers, L., Dostal, H., & Graham, S.C. (in press). Deaf writers' application of ASL knowledge to English. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Bowers, L. (2012). "I was born full deaf." Written language outcomes after one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 17(1), 19-38. doi:10.1093/deafed/enr018
Wolbers, K. (2010). Using ASL and print-based sign to build fluency and greater independence with written English among deaf students. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 10(1), 99-125. Retrieved from http://l1.publication-archive.com/public?fn=enter&repository=1
Wolbers, K. (2008). Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): Apprenticing deaf students in the construction of English text. ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 156, 299-326. doi:10.2143/ITL.156.0.2034441
Wolbers, K. (2008). Using balanced and interactive writing instruction to improve the higher order and lower order writing skills of deaf students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 13(2), 255-277. doi:10.1093/deafed/enm052
Select SIWI Grants
Research & Development
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., & Graham, S. (August 2012 - July 2015). Development of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) for later elementary deaf and hard of hearing students. Funded by Institute of Education Sciences (IES), $1,156,576.
Instruction or Training Programs
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H., Stephenson, B. & Bowden, H. (January 2012 - December 2012). Write On! Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $75,000.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Stephenson, B. (January 2010 - December 2011). Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): A Two-year focus on the language and literacy development of deaf and linguistically diverse students. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $167,000.
Wolbers, K., Dostal, H. & Stephenson, B. (January 2009 - December 2009). Evidence-based language and literacy interventions for the deaf and language delayed. Funded by Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), $75,000.
Dr. Kimberly A. Wolbers
A214 Jane and David Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Phone: 865-974-2375 (v/tty)
Contact the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education
A204 Jane and David Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard