Trina D. Spencer

Trina D. Spencer
  • Director, Juniper Gardens Children's Project
  • Senior scientist, KU Life Span Institute
  • Professor, KU Department of Applied Behavioral Science

Contact Info

Juniper Gardens Children's Project, Suite 300
444 Minnesota Ave
Kansas City, KS 66101-2942


Dr. Spencer is a senior scientist and director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at University of Kansas and professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science. She also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders. Drawing from school psychology, speech-language pathology, applied linguistics, education, and behavior analysis, she concentrates her efforts on the oral academic language that serves as a foundation to the reading and writing skills of preK to 3rd grade students, with and without disabilities. Benefitting from strong collaborations with practitioners and other researchers, Dr. Spencer conducts clinical practice research employing an implementation science framework and a variety of single case, hybrid, and group study designs to evaluate the feasibility, efficacy and sustainability of interventions. One of her major areas of focus has been on Multi-tiered Systems of Support models for schools, with special attention to the iterative development of assessment and intervention tools to promote early literacy and language and reading comprehension. Pre- and post-doctoral researchers working with Dr. Spencer learn to apply behavior analysis to interdisciplinary and general education issues such as professional development, instructional design, development and implementation of effective interventions, and the promotion of academic language. Her interventions and assessment tools are used broadly in the United States, but also internationally. 


Ph.D. in Disability Disciplines, Utah State University
M.S. in School Psychology, Utah State University


Dr. Spencer's research areas include:

•    Intervention and instructional design

•    Dissemination, implementation and sustainment

•    Professional development

•    Verbal behavior

•    Academic language

•    Measurement development

•    Narrative assessment and intervention

•    Dynamic assessment

•    Multi-tiered systems of support

•    Interprofessional collaborative practice

Awards & Honors

Fulbright Scholars Program (Teaching and Research Grant), 2021-2022

Storytelling in South Africa, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa