SCSD Assistant Professor and Team Awarded Education Research Grant

Mollie Romano is an assistant professor for the School of Communication Science and Disorders and she is the Assistant Director of the Communication in Early Childhood Research and Practice Center in FSU’s College of Communication and Information. Dr. Romano engages in research and teaching on embedded interventions for infants and toddlers in home and community settings. She has a particular interest in supporting the communication needs of children at risk for language delays and those with significant disabilities.

Most recently, she’s the principal investigator and recipient of a $213,464 research grant awarded from the Institute of Education Sciences which will allow funding for the research she has passionately been exploring with her team members: (clockwise beginning in bottom left) Melissa Schnurr, Susie Rensch, Angie Green, and Kim Johnson. The Communication and Early Childhood Research to Practice Center has partnered with the state of Iowa’s Early ACCESS program that serves infants and toddlers with disabilities since 2013. For the last few years, FSU has coached early interventionists (EIs) to use a model called Family-guided Routines Based Intervention (FGRBI) to support families’ capacity to help their child grow and develop. They’ve done this by coaching providers from a distance using technology to link them from Tallahassee to Iowa.

Romano says, “While we have trained over 150 EIs directly, there are many more who need professional development in FGRBI. It became increasingly important to scale up our efforts to make sure that all EIs in Iowa are using best practices to support children and their families. We also wanted to make sure that the changes in practice were sustainable, and that providers continue their use of FGRBI after the end of the project. To that end, we have been working with a group of EIs to become internal coaches who will help their peers use FGRBI. What we don’t know, however, is whether or not these internal coaches can help other EIs change their practice and use FGRBI with fidelity.”

This study, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, allows Romano and Schnurr, the project’s Co-Principal Investigator with the Iowa Department of Education, to evaluate the impact of the internal coaches on their peers’ use of FGRBI. “We are excited by this study, because learning more about how states can invest in professional development for EIs is important to all Part C programs who serve infants and toddlers.” Romano explains, “The findings from this study will give us information about whether the dosage and content of the internal coaching intervention was enough to support EIs change in practice, and also whether families and children learned new skills from their EI’s use of FGRBI. This kind of field-based research is really exciting, and we hope it has a real-world impact in Iowa and nationwide.”


Read more about the Mollie Romano’s research and the grant she was awarded here.