Special ed alumni, professor in Iceland shares experience

Anna-Lind Pétursdóttir, alumni of the special education program, PhD ‘06, is professor of special education and behavior analysis at the University of Iceland as well as head psychologist at the Department of Preschool Service, Municipality of Kopavogur, Iceland.

As a professor she teaches graduate-level courses on learning theories and on methods to teach students with special needs in inclusive environments, as well as conducting research on behavioral and instructional interventions for children with special needs. As a head psychologist, Pétursdóttir oversees psychological services provided to referred preschoolers with possible intellectual, learning and/or social-emotional difficulties in collaboration with parents, teachers and other school professionals.

Pétursdóttir first heard about the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education PhD program at a conference on Applied Behavior Analysis held in Toronto in May 2002. At this conference, she was impressed by faculty member Jennifer McComas’ enthusiasm as well as the program. “The emphasis of the program seemed to be a great fit with my research interests and the program was among the highest ranked Special Education programs in the US.” she continues, “I decided to apply and was fortunate enough to be admitted.”

Pétursdóttir then moved to Minnesota with her family, including two school-aged boys, to pursue her PhD. “I was guided by two excellent professors, Jennifer McComas, a specialist in behavior analysis, and Kristen McMaster, a specialist in reading instruction. They skillfully guided and helped me complete my PhD studies within my chosen timeframe,” she says.

Pétursdóttir reflects on her time at the U of M saying, “to be around and guided by an incredibly skilled group of professors, each a top-level expert in their field. They, along with fellow students from all over the world, were a continuous source of motivation and inspiration,” she continues, “All in all, the years at the U of M were tremendously well spent and a wonderful experience for me and my family.”