Mary Pearson, PhD, is an assistant research scientist at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community's Center on Community Living and Careers.

Dr. Pearson’s work experience has centered on transition for students with disabilities from middle and high school to post-school life. She taught as a special education teacher of students with higher level intervention needs and served as a teacher coach to teachers working with middle and high school students involving all types of abilities. She has trained new teachers at five universities, was a GED instructor at two community colleges, and has taught at a postsecondary community college program for adults with disabilities. She has work, volunteer, and research experience with community services, job assessment and training services, and advocacy and support agencies. Her research has focused on customized employment for those with higher level intervention needs, transition assessment and practices, improving inclusion during transition, and improving training for teachers of all students.


Pearson holds a Bachelor's Degree in special education from Utah State University, a MEd in special education also from Utah State University, and a PhD in special education from the University of Kansas.

Research Interests

  • Customized Employment
  • Inclusive Transition Practices
  • Long-term Transition Outcomes
  • Training Educators
  • Transition Assessment and Practices


  • Clavenna-Deane, B., Hansen, B., & Pearson, M. (2020). The impact of social communication on employment success for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, 68–85.
  • Oslick, M. & Pearson, M. (2016). Evaluating and using literature including people with disabilities in all classrooms. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, 104–118.
  • Pearson, M. (Guest Ed., Author). (2012). Micro-enterprises and customized employment. TASH Connections, 38 (2).
  • Pearson, M. (2015). Modeling universal design for learning techniques to support multicultural education for pre-service secondary educators. Multicultural Education, 22 (3–4), 27–34.
  • Pearson, M., Clavenna-Deane, E., & Supon-Carter, K. (2015). Job attitudes of special educators related to inclusion of students with significant disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 30 (2), 81–93.

Awards and Honors

2014, Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children Orlan "Jack" Morgan Advocacy Award