Make The Connection, Faculty

March 2, 2023 | By Marcos Crespo ’23

Allyson Amstutz ’23 and professor Michele Nobel visit Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, to study special education there and in Dublin, Ohio. They earned an OWU Connection grant to support their research. (Photo courtesy of Allyson Amstutz ’23)

Seeing Double

Ohio Wesleyan Senior Travels to Ireland to Compare Education Practices

Name: Allyson Amstutz ’23
Hometown: Orville, Ohio
Major: Special Education
Minor: Psychology
High School: Orville High School
OWU Connection Experience: “From Dublin to Dublin: Comparing Special Education Supports and Perceptions of Disability from Ohio to Ireland”

After earning a competitive OWU Connection grant, Amstutz and assistant professor of Education Michele Nobel, Ph.D., traveled to Dublin, Ireland, in January to explore the special education support in both locations “in order to better advocate for students and their needs.”

What We Studied

“Our objective was to learn more about the field of special education from a different lens and be able to expand our thinking, understanding, and ability to advocate for students,” Amstutz said.

“We chose these two locations because they provided a more condensed basis for comparison. While the two locations are distinct, they each have unique histories and qualities that made them interesting places to be able to research/ learn more about.”

Findings and Results

“The most notable differences between the two education systems are the funding models for the schools, the teacher preparation tracks for those pursuing special education, and the related service implementation in the schools.

“I also noted a strong difference between the two cultures as a whole, which, in turn, plays a strong role in the schools, the societal perception of teachers, and the emphasis within the classroom.”

My Favorite Moment

“We were on our way back from a bus tour, and we met a special education teacher from Los Angeles, along with a mom from Australia, who were able to share a lot about special education and the education system as a whole there.

“It was neat that even on one of our ‘off-days’ where we weren’t actively visiting schools, we still were able to meet some really caring and cool people who taught us a lot about education in places outside of Ohio!”

My Future Plans

“With the information collected, I plan to submit it for presentation at the spring symposium and host an event where I can share my findings with the OWU community. This experience will certainly be applicable to my future career, as I have already started using what I’ve learned during student teaching and other related opportunities.

“Additionally, if requested, we will be staying in touch with the educators from both locations, looking to share ideas and communicate the final findings.”

Why I Chose OWU

“After learning about all of the opportunities available at Ohio Wesleyan and the chance to explore so many different interests of mine, I felt like it was right where I was supposed to be.”