Faculty & Staff
Trina D. Spencer, PhD, BCBA-D
Multi-tiered Systems of Support models for schools, with special attention to early literacy and language and reading comprehension
Dr. Spencer is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida in the Department of Child and Family Studies. She joined USF in 2017 as part of the Rightpath Research and Innovation Center.
Dr. Spencer earned a specialist degree in School Psychology and a PhD in Disability Disciplines from Utah State University with emphases in language and literacy and early childhood special education. She has been a board certified behavior analyst since 2001 and has worked with culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse children as well as children with disabilities, their teachers, and their families for 23 years. She has published 58 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 5 book chapters, and 22 non-peer reviewed articles, briefs, or encyclopedia entries. Through her research, Dr. Spencer has developed eight different assessments and interventions that are commercialized or open source. Her publications and editorial service span a number of disciplines including speech-language pathology, early childhood education, special education, applied linguistics, and school psychology.
Benefitting from strong collaborations with practitioners and other researchers, Dr. Spencer conducts research employing an implementation science framework and a variety of single case and group study designs to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of interventions. One of her major areas of focus has been on Multi-tiered Systems of Support models for schools, with special attention to early literacy and language and reading comprehension. She works with young culturally and linguistically diverse children with or at risk of disabilities or school failure. Drawing from an analysis of verbal behavior, Dr. Spencer also develops innovative language interventions, curricula, and assessment tools that support the achievement of vulnerable students living in poverty. Doctoral students working with Dr. Spencer learn to apply behavior analysis to interdisciplinary and general education issues such as professional development, instructional design, and the promotion of academic language.
Infographics of Recent Publications
Does Cultural and Linguistic Bias Threaten the Validity of Your Language Evaluations?
Petersen, D. B., Tonn, P., Spencer, T. D., & Foster, M. E., (2020). The Classification
Accuracy of a Dynamic Assessment of Inferential Word Learning for Bilingual English/Spanish-Speaking
School-Age Children. Language, Speech, and Hearing
Services in Schools, 51 (1), 144-164.
Measure Reading Comprehension before Students can Read!
Petersen, D. B., Spencer, T. D., Konish, A., Sellars, T. P., Foster, M. E., & Robertson, D. (2020). Using Parallel, Narrative-Based Measures to Examine the Relationship Between Listening and Reading Comprehension: A Pilot Study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Vol. 51, No. 4, October 2020: 1097-1111.
Multi-tiered Oral Narrative Instruction Improves Reading Comprehension and Writing
Petersen, D. B., Mesquita, M. W., Spencer, T. D., & Waldron, J. (2020). Examining the effects of multitiered oral language instruction on reading comprehension and writing. Topics in Language Disorders, 40 (4), pp. E25-E39.
Multi-Tiered Dual Language Instruction: A Randomized Group Study
Spencer, T. D., Moran, M. K., Thompson, M. S., Petersen, D. B., & Restrepo, M. A. (2019). Early efficacy of multi-tiered dual language instruction: Promoting preschoolers’ Spanish and English language skills. AERA Open, 6(1) 1-16.
Ten Principles for Effective Practice
Rightpath Associate Professor Trina Spencer Recognized in CBCS Faculty Spotlight: October 2022
Rightpath Associate Professor Trina Spencer’s Research Lab Undergraduate Students Present at USF Undergraduate Research Showcase and Conference
CFS Associate Professor Trina Spencer, PhD Shares Fulbright Experience in South Africa
Dr. Trina Spencer Receives Fulbright Award
The goals of Dr. Spencer’s Fulbright project, Storytelling in South Africa: Communication, Multilingualism, and Literacy, are to examine the structure of stories produced in multiple languages by South African children with and without disabilities, develop a culturally relevant storytelling intervention, and investigate its effect on children’s alternative communication. Read more.
Dr. Trina Spencer is Appointed Chair of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Committee
She will serve as chair of ASHA's Clinical Research, Implementation Science, and Evidence-Based Practice committee from January 2020 to December 2022. Read more.
Dr. Trina Spencer Trains Specialists to Work with Children with Autism in Minsk, Belarus
Dr. Spencer traveled as part of a humanitarian group to help build capacity of Belarusians’ to work with young children with autism. Read more.