Assistant Professor of Special EducationJoined USJ: 2017
From Art to Special Education
Before pursuing her doctorate in Educational Psychology, Jennifer Kowitt, Ph.D., worked as an art museum educator with a primary responsibility of designing programs for visitors with disabilities. In this role, she developed partnerships with programs and schools for adolescents and adults with disabilities and became interested in learning more about community-based and lifelong learning opportunities for adolescents and adults with disabilities. Some of her research focuses on exploring learning that can take place in out-of-school learning environments. Overall, her research interests include social skills instruction for adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, transition to adulthood for people with disabilities, and out-of-school learning environments.
In June 2018, Dr. Kowitt had the opportunity to teach USJ student interns who were participating in the Integrated Solutions Laboratory Experience (ISLE). This grant-funded collaboration among USJ, University of Hartford, and Capital Community College offered student interns from all three institutions the chance to develop technology that could enable a student with a disability to live more independently. With Lauren Tucker, Ed.D., assistant professor of Education, Dr. Kowitt taught the first part of the course in which students learned about different definitions of disability, disability law, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, activities of daily living, and assistive technology. Working with faculty from partnering institutions, student interns then went on to design new technologies geared toward fostering independent living.
Making a Difference
Dr. Kowitt teaches many of the introductory courses to Special Education at USJ. These courses are for both future special education and general education teachers. “I believe these courses are critical in developing a sense of responsibility in students,” she said. “All teachers – regardless of whether they are special education or general education teachers – are responsible for ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn in school.” In these courses, students explore definitions of disability, discuss disability and special education law, learn about different disability categories, and are introduced to a range of best practices when teaching students with disabilities. “I want to make sure that students leave my courses with an understanding of their responsibilities within the school system, but also that they believe they can and should make a difference in the lives of all of their future students,” Dr. Kowitt remarked.
Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.A., University of Bristol
B.A., Yale University