Research Opportunity: Meaning of Work

See below for information on a research study opportunity. 

We are looking for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ages 18-30) with current or prior employment experience to participate in a research study. We are doing a nationwide research study about the meaning of work in people’s lives. This work will be conducted by researchers at the Texas A&M University and the University of Oregon.

The questions will cover a broad range of topics including current and prior employment experiences, work goals and challenges, personal and professional relationships, and views of work. The interviews, which will last 30-90 minutes, can happen in person, on the phone, or over Skype at a time most convenient for the participant. We will be recording the interviews to help with data collection. This recording is for research purposes only and will only be heard by members of the research team. We will not use real names of participants or anyone else mentioned.

Participation is voluntary, and participants can skip any questions as preferred. We will do everything we can to make this a positive and comfortable experience. Participants will receive a $15 Amazon gift card for taking the time to talk with us. We will e-mail this immediately following the interview.

The principal investigator is Dr. Carly Gilson, an assistant professor of special education at Texas A&M University. If you are interested or have any questions, please send an email to Dr. Gilson at


Reflecting on our Year

As the school year comes to a close, we wanted to take a second to reflect on our favorite memories of the year. It has been a wonderful one and we are so grateful for all of the great experiences it brought. Here’s what TOPS students said were their favorite memories this year:

“The first day, because I made it to college.”

“Doing great activities, like karaoke”

“[My] Fashion Class and internship. I go to school every day and I learn something new.”

“Going to social events and sporting events, interacting with people, my internship at the Wilce Student Center, learning interesting things about college life at The Ohio State, getting help with homework, and the BuckeyeThon event”

“Going to social events”

“Meeting new friends [was] definitely one of my favorite parts. Also, social events like bowling and Sloopy’s.”

“My classes”

“Getting my homework done and going to social events, like Sloopy’s for dinner”

“I’ve had a lot of fun working at the vet school.”

We are so excited to see what the next school year brings, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for our graduating students!

Finals Week/End of School Year Stress Management

Finals Week is quickly approaching. The end of the semester is often one of the busiest times for students. In preparation for the next few weeks, take a moment to read about some study tips and stress management techniques that might be useful to you. You can do it!

  • Discover your learning style and use study techniques that match it. You can take the VARK Questionnaire to find out how you learn best. Based on the results, you can discover study strategies that might work well for you.
  • Find a new way to learn challenging content. If a topic is difficult to understand, try finding an additional way to learn and process through the material. For example, Crash Course has excellent videos on a variety of topics. Videos can help you conceptualize information in a new way and they work especially well for Visual or Auditory learners.
  • Use apps to help you study. Downloading apps to help you review material can be a fun way to supplement your studies. Quizlet is an online flashcard program that has games to help you practice content. It’s available online and as an app on your phone/iPad.
  • Take a break to exercise. Exercise improves your memory, so take a brain break, put on those tennis shoes, and get some exercise (Alston, 2013).
  • Practice deep breathing. Feeling stressed? Visit our recent blog post on deep breathing for some helpful ideas.
  • Remember that everyone is different. When studying, what is helpful for one person might not work for another. Find what works best for you!


Alston, S. (2013, December 12). Scientifically, The Best Ways To Prepare For Final Exams [Web log post]. Retrieved April 12, 2019, from

SmartColumbus Opportunity for Students

Students learned about the opportunity below on Tuesday and many demonstrated great interest. Consider getting involved with this project!

We are collaborating with the City of Columbus and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), as part of SmartColumbus. As part of SmartColumbus we are conducting a research study to examine how older adults and individuals with cognitive disabilities utilize public transportation, specifically the COTA bus system. Therefore, we are looking for individuals with cognitive disabilities and older adults to provide feedback on a navigation app, which is designed to assist with public transportation within Franklin County. We are also looking for travel partners (e.g. family members, travel trainers, and community specialists) that support the travel needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities and older adults. The individuals with a disability and older adults, in combination with the travel partners, will have an opportunity to use the navigation app prior to providing feedback on the app. Furthermore, the travel partner will have the opportunity to use the app and a website to create travel routes, and provide feedback on the app and website.

As part of the research study, we will provide training on the use of a smartphone, the navigation app, and the navigation website. We will also provide travel training on the use of COTA buses.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in participating in the research study, please contact Carmen DiGiovine at or (614) 293-7876. Please include “SmartColumbus” in the subject line when sending an email, or reference “SmartColumbus” when leaving a voicemail.

Carmen P. DiGiovine, PhD ATP/SMS RET

Click here for a flyer with more information

Student Spotlight: Ben

Ben, who is in his 4th year with TOPS, is our Student Spotlight this week! He is graduating this semester and says that he has loved his last four years at Ohio State. After graduation, his goal is to work transporting patients in a hospital because he loves helping people. “I’m really good at it…it’s my dream,” he explained. One of his favorite memories with TOPS has been working with his mentor at the hospital this year.

When reflecting on the last four years, Ben said, “I’m really going to miss being a Buckeye because I’ve had a lot of memories here. I met all of the football coaches and I’m going to miss seeing them. It’s a memory I’ll have for a really long time.”

Ben has also enjoyed the social events, like getting to go to the Michigan football game, going to the hockey game, and going bowling.

The most important skill Ben has learned in the TOPS Program is how to budget. “It was difficult the first time, but I got it,” he described. His favorite class at OSU was his History of War class. “The teacher was really good, he challenged us a lot and I wrote a lot of papers.” His secret to college success is to “work hard and try your best.”

Ben has traveled to nine different countries, but his favorite stop in the Columbus area is Mikey’s Late Night Slice. He thinks the best food combination in the world is a hamburger with French fries and coleslaw on top!

The TOPS Program wants to recognize Ben’s great attitude and his dedication to helping others. You’ll continue to accomplish big things!