Mel  Spence

Mel Spence, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor of Education
(805) 493-3087
Spies-Bornemann Education Cntr 227


Mel Spence is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching in the Graduate School of Education.  She currently serves as the Coordinator of Professional Development for the Autism and Communication Center at Cal Lutheran.  Mel completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Cal Lutheran and her M.Ed. in Severe Special Needs at Boston College.  She has 12 years of professional experience working with individuals with autism with 10 of those years spent with the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Mel’s research focuses on promoting the instructional efficacy for non-verbal students with autism and helping teachers implement evidence-based practice within their classrooms.  In the classroom, Mel teachers courses on assessment, IEP development, instructional strategies, and non-academic supports.  She has been recognized by the DADD division of CEC for the Tom E.C. Smith Early Career Award and Best Practitioner Research.

  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership (K-12) from California Lutheran University
  • M.Ed. in Severe Special Needs from Boston College
  • B.A. in Psychology from Occidental College


Journal Articles

Spence, M. & Tseng, A. (2018).  Integrating social and emotional learning instruction into core academic instruction for students with ASD. In press. 

Spence, M. (2017). Instructional strategies for promoting reading comprehension in non-verbal students with autism spectrum disorders. DADD Express, 28(2), 1-6. 

Book Chapters 

Spence, M. & Peña, E.V. (2015). Intersections of autism, race, and class: A social justice agenda for inclusive leadership practices.  In A. Normore & K. Esposito (Eds.), Inclusive practices for special populations in urban settings: The moral imperative for social justice leadership. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing INC. 

Spence, M. (2010). Using a communication game to improve the expressive language skills of a boy with autism.  In S.M. Bruce & G.J. Pine (Eds.), Action research in special education: An inquiry approach for effective teaching and learning (pp.80-97).  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.




Grant Funding

PAGES (2017): Project for Advancement of Gifted and Exceptional Students ($736,802 over 5 years) 

     Principal Investigator

     Department of Education-Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program


Hewlett Grant (2017,2016): California Lutheran University ($1,000)


CLU Center for Innovative Learning (2017): Bring Your Own Brain ($625)




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