Amanda Zbacnik

Dr. Amanda

Associate Professor
Special Education
Office: Swenson Hall 2066


Amanda is an expert in the field of special education. She has teaching experience in K-12 schools and in higher education as an associate professor of special education. As a previous special educator, Amanda worked with individuals in multiple disability categories including intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, emotional behavioral disorders, specific learning disabilities and autism.

While teaching at the high school level, Amanda focused on transition for students with special needs and collaboration with multiple stakeholders (therapists, paraprofessionals, and community transition agencies). She volunteers in equine-assisted therapeutic activities, is the president of Wisconsin’s Council for Exceptional Children, presents at state, national and international conferences, and recently co-published the book, “Educators for Diverse Classrooms: A Case Study Approach to Equity and Inclusion in Education.”  

Research Interests

  • Disability Rights and Advocacy
  • Equity in Education
  • Equine and other Therapeutic Methods
  • Teaching of Social Emotional Learning from Pre-Service Education Candidates


  • Published OER. Gilpin, S., & Zbacnik, A. (2023). Open Educational Resource textbook for:  Behavior Analysis Intervention, SPED 760.
  • Sharma, M. & Zbacnik, A. (2020). Educators for diverse classrooms: A case study approach to equity and inclusion in education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. (November, 2019)
  • Zbacnik, A.J. & Nierengarten, G. (2016). Co-teaching in higher education: effects on students’ academic growth and attitudes towards inclusion in special education. Educational Review (unpublished article manuscript).
  • Zbacnik, A.J. (2015). Co-teaching in higher education: Effects on students’ academic growth and attitudes towards inclusion in special education (Published doctoral dissertation). St. Mary’s University, Minnesota.
  • Zbacnik, A.J. (2008). Can Sponge Bob change behavior? Behavior intervention and the effects it has on increasing academic engaged time (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Wisconsin-Superior.


  • “Disability Services for Meeting the Needs of Students in Higher Education” multi-poster session in conjunction with Team Hope at the 2023 OPID Spring Conference on Teaching & Learning: Centering Students in Madison, WI; and at 2023 Council for Exceptional Children national conference in Louisville, KY (April 20, 2023) and (March 2, 2023).
  • “Disability Characteristics and Tips for Inclusion” for the WI-Council for Exceptional Children Conference (February 4, 2023).
  • “Trauma Informed Practice-Trauma Informed Teaching Strategies” for the UW-Superior Center for Continuing Education (November 23, 2021).
  • “FORWARD 60: A Webinar for Equity in the Classroom Project” for the Equity in the Classroom Live Webinar Series (November, 2020).
  • “Equity and Inclusion in Post-Secondary Institutions” and teaching session, “Equity in Higher Education: Seeing You, Understanding Each Other, and Creating Equitable Opportunities,” with Dr. Manu Sharma, at Enhancement Day (August, 2020).
  • “Prioritization of Council for Exceptional Children Standards in Special Education Pre-Service Programs” at the Scholarship of Teaching and Leaning event (March, 2020).
  • “Paraprofessionals as Partners” at the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity (March, 2020)
  • “Power of the Pet” at the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health conference (April, 2019)
  • “Sensory instructional supports in science interest areas for individuals with ASD: The General and Special Educator Perspective” at the Wisconsin Society of Science Teacher’s Conference (March, 2019)
  • “To Accommodate or Modify…that is the Question” at the 24th Annual Statewide Institute on Best Practices in Inclusive Education (July 2017)


  • Selection to Wisconsin Teaching Fellow and Scholar program for 2022-23 academic year (January, 2022)
  • Max H. Lavine Award (2019-20). Awarded in May, 2020


  • 2015 – Doctor of Education – Leadership, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • 2008 – Master of Science – Education, University of Wisconsin-Superior
  • 2007 – Bachelor’s Degree – Music Education, University of Wisconsin-Superior