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Jessica Hardy

Key Professional Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Special Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ph.D., Early Childhood Special Education, Vanderbilt University, 2014

M.Ed., Unified Early Childhood Education, University of Florida, 2004

B.A.E, Unified Early Childhood Education, University of Florida, 2003

Awards, Honors, Associations

Marissa Zelinger Research Award, 2021-2022

Hardie Faculty Fellow, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020

Nystrand-Offutt Scholar, College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville, 2019

Research & Service

Jessica Hardy’s research focuses on evidence-based practices for teaching young children with disabilities.  She has conducted research on the use of systematic instruction to support preschool children in learning early math skills, such as counting, patterning, and classification (Hardy & Hemmeter, 2019; Hardy, in submission).  She also has published research on the use of interventions to support children’s literacy skills (McLeod, Kaiser, & Hardy, 2019; McLeod, Hardy, & Kaiser, 2017; Ledford, Barton, Hardy, Elam, Seabolt, Shanks, Hemmeter, & Kaiser, 2016). These are critical areas in need of continued research to better illuminate how we can best support young children in learning these important skills, which have been found to be predictive of later school achievement.

Jessica also studies the use of coaching as a professional development approach to supporting preschool teachers’ use of evidence-based practices.  She has published several articles related to coaching (McLeod, Hardy, & Grifenhagen, 2019; Hemmeter, Hardy, Schnitz, Adams, & Kinder, 2015) and is a co-author of a measure of coaching quality that has been used in multiple IES-funded studies.

Jessica uses a variety of research methodologies and is interested in using experimental single-case research design to examine causal relationships, such as in a recent line of research around the impact of diverse children’s literature on children’s engagement in literacy activities (Hardy, Pennington, Griffin, & Jacobi-Vessels, 2020; Hardy, Pennington, Rogers, & Yao, in submission).

Jessica also values the dissemination of research to practitioners and has published a number of practitioner-oriented articles (Hardy & McLeod, 2020; Hardy & Hemmeter, 2019; McLeod, Artman-Meeker, & Hardy, 2017), book chapters (Hardy, Hawkins, Hemmeter, & Grisham-Brown, 2017; Hardy & Hemmeter, 2014), and modules (Hardy, Brown, Skow, & the IRIS Center, 2015; The IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, 2014).

Jessica is the recent recipient of a Hardie Faculty Fellows Award, which will support her continued research in systematic instruction in early math skills for children with disabilities.

Please see the Hardy Lab website for more information.


Hardy, J. K., & Hemmeter, M. L. (2023). Systematic Modeling and Prompting to Teach Math Skills to Preschoolers With Disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special education, 43(2), 103-115.  link >

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., & Carden, K. C. (Accepted/In press). A Review of the Literature: Distance Coaching in Early Childhood Settings. Journal of Early Intervention.  link >

Hardy, J. K., McLeod, R. H., Sweigart, C. A., & Landrum, T. (2022). Comparing and Contrasting Quality Frameworks Using Research on High-Probability Requests With Young Children. Infants and Young Children, 35(4), 267-284.  link >

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., & Sands, M. M. (2022). Preparation of Early Childhood Special Education Personnel: Alignment with Personnel Preparation Guidance. Early Childhood Education Journal, 50(6), 1011-1020.  link >

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., Snyder, P., Algina, J., Hardy, J. K., Bishop, C., & Veguilla, M. (2021). Corollary child outcomes from the Pyramid Model professional development intervention efficacy trial. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 204-218.  link >

Hardy, J. K., Pennington, R., Griffin, R., & Jacobi-Vessels, J. (2020). Comparing the Effects of Protagonist Race on Preschoolers’ Engagement in Book Reading. Early Childhood Education Journal, 48(6), 781-791.  link >

Hardy, J. K., & Hemmeter, M. L. (2020). Designing Inclusive Science Activities and Embedding Individualized Instruction. Young Exceptional Children, 23(3), 119–129. Article 109625061983398.  link >

Hardy, J. K., & McLeod, R. H. (2020). Using Positive Reinforcement With Young Children. Beyond Behavior, 29(2), 95-107.  link >

Hardy, J. K., & Hemmeter, M. L. (2019). Systematic Instruction of Early Math Skills for Preschoolers at Risk for Math Delays. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 38(4), 234-247.  link >

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., Strain, P. S., Hardy, J. K., & Joseph, J. D. (2019). Designing and Implementing Tier 2 Instructional Supports to Promote Social-Emotional Outcomes. In J. Carta, & R. Young (Eds.), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Young Children: Driving Change in Early Education Brookes Publishing.

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., & Grifenhagen, J. F. (2019). Coaching Quality in Pre-kindergarten Classrooms: Perspectives from a Statewide Study. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(2), 175-186.  link >

McLeod, R. H., Kaiser, A. P., & Hardy, J. K. (2019). The Relation Between Teacher Vocabulary Use in Play and Child Vocabulary Outcomes. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 39(2), 103-116.  link >

McLeod, R. H., Artman-Meeker, K., & Hardy, J. K. (2017). Preparing Yourself for Coaching: Partnering for Success. YC Young Children, 72(3), 75-81.

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., & Kaiser, A. P. (2017). The Effects of Play-Based Intervention on Vocabulary Acquisition by Preschoolers at Risk for Reading and Language Delays. Journal of Early Intervention, 39(2), 147-160.  link >

Hemmeter, M. L., Fox, L., & Hardy, J. K. (2016). Supporting the implementation of tiered models of behavior support in early childhood settings. In Handbook of Early Childhood Special Education (pp. 247-265). Springer.  link >

Ledford, J. R., Barton, E. E., Hardy, J. K., Elam, K., Seabolt, J., Shanks, M., Hemmeter, M. L., & Kaiser, A. (2016). What Equivocal Data From Single Case Comparison Studies Reveal About Evidence-Based Practices in Early Childhood Special Education. Journal of Early Intervention, 38(2), 79-91.  link >

Hemmeter, M. L., Hardy, J. K., Schnitz, A. G., Adams, J. M., & Kinder, K. A. (2015). Effects of Training and Coaching With Performance Feedback on Teachers’ Use of Pyramid Model Practices. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(3), 144-156.  link >


Guest Reviewer, Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2022

Editorial Review Board Member, Young Exceptional Children, 2021 - present

Guest Reviewer, Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 2021 - present

Guest Reviewer, Early Childhood Education Journal, 2020 - present

Guest Reviewer, Young Exceptional Children, 2019 - 2021

Treasurer, Division for Early Childhood, 2018 - 2022

Editorial Review Board Member, Rural Special Education Quarterly, 2018 - present

Membership Coordinator, Kentucky Division for Early Childhood, 2017 - 2019

Editorial Review Board Member, Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 2016 - present

Co-Chair, DEC Challenging Behavior Position Statement Revision Committee, 2016 - 2017

Guest Reviewer, Journal of Early Intervention, 2013 - present

Planning Committee Member, Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention, 2013-2014


SPED 450: Introduction to Early Childhood Special Education (SPED 450) Overview of the history, trends, and issues of the field of Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) with particular attention to federal and state policy, service system models, and professional roles and ethics. Emphasis is on current research, theory, and practice.

SPED 465: Curriculum and Methods in Early Childhood Special Education (SPED 465) Introduction to the field of early childhood special education, including its history and major issues; instructional methods used in teaching and facilitating development in young children with disabilities are covered in depth.

SPED 524: Supervised Practice in Special Education (SPED 524) Supervised practice in one or more settings in which students with disabilities are served; practicum settings may include day, residential, special, and regular schools which serve students with disabilities.

SPED 526: Collaborative Leaders in Special Education (SPED 526) Course provides special educators and other professionals with skills and strategies to assume a leader/change agent role in their schools. Participants focus on effective leadership, collaborative practices, and innovative programs in special education that create unique learning environments, ultimately impacting all stakeholders (student with and without disabilities, teachers, families). Course readings, lectures, and activities address how leaders in the field affect change in special education through grant writing, professional development, and the implementation and evaluation of innovative programs and practices.

SPED 566: Leadership in Early Childhood Special Education (SPED 566) Program issues and research on the efficacy of various program models for young children with special needs from infancy to six; implications for program organization variables such as space, personnel roles, and curriculum