Erik Carter, Ph.D.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Special Education; Co-Director, VKC University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD)
Overview of Interests
Erik Carter’s research goal is to identify those skills, supports, and experiences that enable adolescents with significant disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities) to live rich and personally satisfying lives during and after high school. His research has followed three primary strands. The first strand focuses on interventions to support youth with significant disabilities socially and academically within inclusive schools. Carter’s research in this area has focused most heavily on the processes and outcomes associated with peer-mediated support strategies, along with careful examination of the student, classroom, and other school factors that may influence students’ success. The second strand focuses on equipping middle and high school students with significant intellectual disabilities to transition successfully to life after high school. In this area, his research has focused on (a) assessing the transition-related needs (e.g., social, vocational, self-determination, educational) of youth, and (b) identifying feasible and effective avenues for increasing students’ access to career development and early work experiences. The third strand focuses on increasing the capacity and commitment of communities to meaningfully include children and adults with significant disabilities, as well as engaging new partners in these efforts. Here, he has focused his work on interventions that engage new partners (e.g., employers, parents, community leaders, congregations) in community change efforts.