Student Profile

Matthew Zajic
PhD Candidate – Learning and Mind Sciences

Matthew Zajic is a doctoral candidate in education with an emphasis in learning and mind sciences and a designated emphasis in writing, rhetoric, and composition studies.

My research focuses on understanding the writing development of school-age children with developmental or learning disabilities, specializing in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Writing development concerns not only the development of specific writing abilities but also how writing is assessed and measured and how educators can develop and use writing interventions with children with learning or developmental difficulties who are at-risk for a range of writing difficulties. My research adopts social and cognitive process frameworks from writing research to explore how various processes and related abilities (such as attention regulation, working memory, and reading abilities) help researchers and educators to understand the writing difficulties experienced by children with ASD or ADHD.

For full list of awards, fellowships, teaching experience, research projects, presentations, and publications, please see posted CV.

Primary Research Interests

  • Writing development, assessment, and interventions
  • Educational outcomes (with a focus on writing abilities) in children with developmental (specifically autism spectrum disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or learning disabilities
  • Video games as tools to measure academic achievement and social or cognitive processes
  • Theoretical models of writing development (e.g., sociocultural, cognitive, community, etc.) 
  • Psychometrics of writing assessment
  • Disability attitudes and accommodations in postsecondary education

Education

B.A. Sociology (Minors in Education: Applied Psychology & Professional Writing: Professional Editing), High Honors, University of California, Santa Barbara (2012)

Advisors

Dr. Peter Mundy, primary advisor (webpage)

Dr. Christopher Thaiss, secondary advisor (webpage)

Awards

UC Davis School of Education’s Scholarly Promise Award, June 2016

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, Graduate Studies, UC Davis, May 2015

Fellowships

Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow in Psychometrics and Special Populations, 2016-

Graduate Writing Fellow, University Writing Program, 2015-2017

Publications

McCauley, J. B., Zajic, M., Schiltz, H., Swain-Lerro, L., Harris, M., Oswald, T., McIntyre, N., Trzesniewski, K., Mundy, P., & Solomon, M. (in press). Self-esteem, internalizing symptoms, and theory of mind in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Solari, E., McIntyre, N., Grimm, R., Swain-Lerro, L., Zajic, M., & Mundy, P. (2017). The relation between text reading fluency and reading comprehension for students with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Schiltz, H., McIntyre, N., Swain-Lerro, L., Zajic, M., & Mundy, P. (2017). Longitudinal stability of self-reported anxiety in youth with higher functioning autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Mundy, P., Novotny, S., Swain-Lerro, L., McIntyre, N., Zajic, M., & Oswald, T. (2017). Joint-attention and the social phenotype of school-aged children with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N., Swain-Lerro, L., Novotny, S., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. (2016). Attention and written expression in school-age, high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice. doi:10.1177/1362361316675121

Published Conference Reviews (Conference on College Composition and Communication)

Zajic, M. C. (2016). “CCCC 2016 Review: Time to Take Stock: What We Can (and Can’t) Learn From Current CHAT Methodology in Writing Studies Research.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 21(2), pp. 35-38.

Zajic, M. C. (2016). “CCCC 2016 Review: The Purposes of Required Writing?” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 21(2), pp. 60-62.

Zajic, M. C. (2015). “CCCC 2015 Review: Rethinking basic writing: New ideas and perspectives.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 20(2), pp. 151–153.

Zajic, M. C. (2015). “CCCC 2015 Review: Common core state standards, meet the framework for success in postsecondary writing: A risky, rewarding table of course re-design.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 20(2), pp. 105–107.

Zajic, M. C. (2015). “CCCC 2015 Review: Accommodating access: The theory, practice, and pitfalls of accommodation in composition and beyond.” Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 20(2), pp. 157–160.

Current Research

Reading and Academic Development Center (PIs: Emily Solari & Peter Mundy)

Role: Graduate Student Researcher, Undergraduate Researcher Supervisor

Reading and writing intervention research with children with developmental disabilities who struggle with reading. Adapting a validated reading curriculum to better meet the needs of children with developmental disabilities.

Reading and Academic Development Center Website

Virtual Reality Applications for the Study of Attention and Learning in Children with Autism and ADHD/Longitudinal Study of Academic Development in Children with Developmental Disabilities (PI: Peter Mundy)

Role: Experimenter & Lead Writing Researcher; Co-Project Manager

Exploratory research to gain better understanding of how students with autism spectrum disorders exhibit achievement difficulties in the areas of reading comprehension, written expression, and problem solving. Full information located at 

http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1256.

Conference & Symposium Presentations

For full list, please see attached CV.

McCauley, J. B., Oswald, T, Zajic, M., Swain-Lerro, L., McIntyre, N., Solomon, M & Mundy, P. (2017, March). Emotion Regulation Strategies and Perceived Parent-Child Relationship Quality in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Society of Research in Child Development, Austin, Texas (Poster).

Zajic, M. C. (2017, January). Writing Difficulties of School-age, High-functioning Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders from a Theoretical Writing Model Framework: A Systematic Review of Research. University of California Center for Research in Special Education, Disabilities, & Developmental Risk Conference, Santa Barbara, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2016, October). Exploring Writing Instructor Attitudes and Actions Towards Disability and Accessibility: Opening the Discussion Across the UC Writing Programs. University of California Council of Writing Programs Conference, Santa Barbara, California (Oral).

Solari, E., Grimm, R., McIntyre, N., Ferrer, E., Henry, A., Denton, C., Madsen, K., Zajic, M. (2016, July). Subgroup comparisons of the Simple View of Reading: Should fluency be added to the model for at-risk readers?. Society of the Scientific Study of Reading, Porto, Portugal (Poster).

Zellou, G., Barreda, S., McIntyre, N., Swain-Lerro, L., Zajic, M., & Mundy, P.  (2016, July). The role of fundamental and formant frequency information on voice and speaker perception in children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity. LabPhon 15, Ithaca, New York (Poster).

Bright, A., & Zajic, M. C. (2016, June). All graduate students can be WACky: Supporting graduate student writers across the curriculum. International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Oral).

McIntyre, N., Mundy, P., Solomon, M., Oswald, T., Swain-Lerro, L., Zajic, M., McCauley, J., & Schiltz, H. (2016, May). A longitudinal study of the social-cognitive phenotype of ASD and reading comprehension development. International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, Maryland (Poster).

Swain-Lerro, L., McIntyre, N., Zajic, M., Mundy, P., McCauley, J., Schiltz, H., & Oswald, T. (2016, May). Educational implications of auditory processing deficits in students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, Maryland (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. S., Swain-Lerro, L. E., McCauley, J., Schiltz, H. K., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. (2016, May). Writing development in higher-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder with and without ADHD comorbidity. International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, Maryland (Poster).

McCauley, J. B., Zajic, M., Schiltz, H., Swain-Lerro, L., Harris, M., Oswald, T., McIntyre, N., Trzesniewski, K., Mundy, P., & Solomon, M.  (2016, May). Investigating potential biases in self-evaluations of reading and math performance by individuals with ASD, ADHD, and typical development. International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, Maryland (Poster).

McCauley, J. B., Harris, M., Zajic, M., Schiltz, H., Swain-Lerro, L., Oswald, T., McIntyre, N., Trzesniewski, K., Mundy, P., & Solomon, M. (2016, May). Systematic evaluation of self-esteem, internalizing symptoms, and theory of mind in youth with ASD, ADHD, and typical development. International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, Maryland (Poster).

Zajic, M. C. (2016, April). Exploring clinical writing assessment of school-age children with disabilities to inform postsecondary writing research. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Houston, Texas (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2016, March). Writing Achievement in Higher-Functioning, School-Age Children with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorders with High and Low ADHD Symptomatology. Gatlinburg Conference, San Diego, California (Poster).

Solari, E., McIntyre, N., Zajic, M., Mundy, P.  (2016, February). A pilot study of a comprehension intervention for students with high functioning autism. Pacific Coast Research Conference, Coronado, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N., Swain-Lerro, Oswald, T., Solari, E., & Mundy, P.  (2016, February). Fluent and non-fluent higher-functioning writers with autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pacific Coast Research Conference, Coronado, California (Poster).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N., Swain-Lerro, L., McCauley, J., Schiltz, H., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. (2016, January). Writing Development in Higher-Functioning Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with and without ADHD Comorbidity. University of California Center for Research in Special Education, Disabilities, & Developmental Risk Conference, Santa Barbara, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2015, July). Disability, Accommodations, and Writing Program Administration: Exploring Attitudes About Disability and Accommodations to Better Inform WPAs Concerning Issues of Access. Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference, Boise, Idaho (Oral).

McIntyre, N., Mundy, P. Solomon, M., Oswald, T., Swain-Lerro, L., & Zajic, M.  (2015, May). Reading comprehension, language disturbance, and the social communication phenotype of ASD. International Meeting for Autism Research, Salt Lake City, Utah (Poster).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Swain-Lerro, L. E., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2015, May). Writing Ability and Working Memory in Children with Higher Functioning ASD. International Meeting for Autism Research, Salt Lake City, Utah (Poster).

Zajic, M. C. (2015, May). ‘No. I Don’t Want to Write.’: Writing Avoidance and Experimenter Redirection with a High-functioning, School-Age Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. University of California at Davis Language Symposium, Davis, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2015, April). Does Process Inform Product?: Using Video Analysis to Measure the Influence of Attention on Writing Ability in Children with High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. GradSlam at the Interdisciplinary Graduate & Professional Symposium, Davis, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2015, April). What’s Working Memory, Attention, and Motivation Have to do with Writing?: Exploring Writing Ability in School-Age Children with High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Interdisciplinary Graduate & Professional Symposium, Davis, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2015, March). Assessing Written Expression Learning Disorder in Clinical Settings: What Does it Mean and Not Mean to Have a Writing Disability and What Should Writing Instructors Know?. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, Florida (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2015, March). Applying Cognitive and Sociocognitive Writing Models to Understand Writing Development in School-Age Children with Learning and Developmental Differences. Research Network Forum at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, Florida (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Swain-Lerro, L. E., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2015, January). Influence of Working Memory and Age on the Writing of Children with HFASD and ADHD. University of California Center for Research in Special Education, Disabilities, & Developmental Risk Conference, Santa Barbara, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Swain-Lerro, L. E., Novotny, S., Kapelkina, T., Hanif, A., Zhu, V., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2014, May). Writing Development and Working Memory in School-Age Children with ASD: Preliminary Longitudinal Data. International Meeting for Autism Research, Atlanta, Georgia (Poster).

Zajic, M. C. (2014, April). ‘Write about your favorite game and give at least three reasons why you like it’: Comparing Written-Language Use of School-Age Children with HFASD and ADHD during a Standardized Writing Task.. University of California at Davis Language Symposium, Davis, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Novotny, S., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2014, April). Implicit and Explicit Writing Prompt Concerns in School-Age Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Look at Preliminary Longitudinal Data. Interdisciplinary Graduate & Professional Symposium, Davis, California (Oral).

Zajic, M. C. (2014, March). Understanding Writing Development in School-Age Children with HFASD & ADHD. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, Indiana (Oral).

Zajic, M. C., McIntyre, N. C., Swain-Lerro, L. E., Novotny, S., Kapelkina, T., Hanif, A., Zhu, V., Oswald, T., & Mundy, P. C. (2014, January). Writing Development and Working Memory in School-Age Children with ASD. University of California Center for Research in Special Education, Disabilities, & Developmental Risk Conference, Santa Barbara, California (Poster).

Workshop Presentations

Zajic, M. C. (2016, October). Statements of Purpose for Graduate School. Workshop presented at the 2nd Annual Diversity Pathway to Graduate School Conference at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. & Oliver, M. (2016, October). Personal Statements for Graduate School. Workshop presented at the 2nd Annual Diversity Pathway to Graduate School Conference at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2015, April). What Would You Recommend?: Deconstructing Recommendation Letter Writing. Workshop presented at the California Association of School Counselors and HB McDaniel Northern California Conference at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2014, April). Escaping the Five-Paragraph Format and Embracing an Unknown Audience: Assisting Students with the College Application Essay. Workshop presented at the California Association of School Counselors and HB McDaniel Northern California Conference at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Invited Guest Talks

Zajic, M. C. (2017, January). Using Video Games to Study Writing Abilities: The Minecraft Writing Assessment for School-Age Children. Invited guest speaker with Dr. Peter Mundy and Dr. Tony Simon at Minds Behind the MIND talk on “Gaming Research: How it’s helping children with neurodevelopmental disorders” at the MIND Institute, Sacramento, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2016, October). ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about surveys?’: Designing and Analyzing Surveys. Invited guest lecture to undergraduates enrolled in UWP 1Y (Introduction to Expository Writing), Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2016, October). Conducting Writing Research from a Teacher-Implemented Action Research Perspective: Theoretical and Practical Considerations.  Invited guest lecture to teaching credential and master’s students enrolled in EDU 206C (Inquiry into Classroom Practice: Study Design) at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2016, June). Getting in is the Tough Part, Right?: Life after Graduate School Acceptance and Figuring out Methods, Analyses, and Writing Strategies. Invited oral presentation to the McNair Scholars Program at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2016, January). Assessing writing performance and writing development in school-age children with autism spectrum disorders: Preliminary findings and future research. Invited guest lecture to a visiting group of international scholars from National Taipei University of Education’s Special Education Department, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2016, January). Academic and writing research on school-age children with autism spectrum disorders: Current theories, current findings, and future research. Guest speaker for the Autism Awareness Association at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

McIntyre, N. S. & Zajic, M. C. (2015, November). Developing a reading intervention for school-age children with autism spectrum disorder: From theory to practice. Invited guest lecture to upper-division education course on educational psychology (EDU 110) at the University of California, Davis, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2015, June). Multiple regressions, ANOVAs, and Minecraft, oh my!: Assessing the writing ability of school-aged children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Invited guest speaker to online biostatistics course for doctoral-level nursing students at Brandman University, Irvine, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2015, April). Assessing written expression in clinical settings: Questioning assessment design with specific attention to school-age children with developmental disabilities. Invited oral presentation to education doctoral students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

Department Presentations

Zajic, M. C. (2016, October). Exploring clinical writing assessment of school-age children with disabilities to inform postsecondary writing research. Oral presentation at the Graduate Group in Education Faculty/Student Showcase of Research Presented at National Meetings, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2015, October). Exploring writing achievement in school-age children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Oral presentation to the School of Education Brownbag Seminar Series, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2015, April). Assessing Written Expression Learning Disorder in Clinical Settings: What Does it Mean and Not Mean to Have a Writing Disability and What Should Writing Instructors Know?. Oral presentation at the Graduate Group in Education Faculty/Student Showcase of Research Presented at National Meetings, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2014, October). Writing Development and Working Memory in School-Age Children with ASD: Preliminary Longitudinal Data. Poster presented at the Chancellor’s Annual Convocation and Student Research Expo, Davis, California.

Zajic, M. C. (2014, April). Writing Development and Working Memory in School-Age Children with ASD. Poster presented at the Graduate Group in Education Faculty/Student Showcase of Research Presented at National Meetings, Davis, California.

Teaching Experience

For full list, please see attached CV.

EDU 115: Educating Students with Disabilities (Teaching Assistant)

EDU 122: Children, Learning, and Material Culture (Teaching Assistant)

EDU 119: The Use and Misuse of Standardized Tests (Teaching Assistant)

UWP 1: Introduction to Expository Writing (Associate Instructor)

UWP 12: Visual Rhetoric (Teaching Assistant)

UWP 106: English Grammar (Teaching Assistant)

Professional Affiliations

American Educational Research Association (AERA)

American Psychological Association (APA)

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

International Society for Autism Research (INSAR)

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME)

Society of the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR)

Other Information

Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies Designated Emphasis Bio Page

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