David Hernandez-Saca, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
(319) 273-7646

Dr. David Hernandez-Saca is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. He received his PhD from Arizona State University and MA from UC Berkeley. Dr. Hernandez-Saca is a former multi-subject teacher and his teaching responsibilities at UNI include undergraduate teacher preparation courses in the areas of post-school transition programming and issues and applications in special education. Dr. Hernandez-Saca's research nucleus of his research agenda is problematizing the common sense assumptions of learning disabilities (LD). Dr. Hernandez-Saca's three lines of research include: (1) the emotional impact of LD labeling on conceptions of self. This work has implications for the problematization of LD that takes into account the sociocultural contexts of students living with this condition and the social construction of emotions about LD. Dr. Hernandez-Saca engages in this line of inquiry by documenting the perspectives of historically marginalized youth and culturally and linguistically diverse students with LD and in collaborative autoethnographic projects. Dr. Hernandez-Saca's second line of inquiry is (2) the role of emotion and affect in teacher learning about social justice issues. Dr. Hernández-Saca's third line of research is (3) transition plans and programming for historically marginalized youth with disabilities at their intersections of multiple identities and their families. What ties all three of his lines of inquiry together is his commitment to educational equity through an interdisciplinary research design and methodology. Overall, Dr. Hernandez-Saca investigates these as they relate to historical equity issues in general education and special education and current movements for inclusive education. He has published in journals such as Educational Review, Learning Disability Quarterly, Critical Disability Discourses/Discours critiques dans le champ du handicap and the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, and has presented at numerous national and regional conferences. 


Areas of Expertise: 
  • The social and emotional dimensions of Learning Disabilities 
  • Intersectionality 
  • Disability Studies in Education
  • Critical Theory and Pedagogy 
  • Inclusive education 
  • Interdisciplinarity 
  • Collective Autoethnography
  • Transition
Courses Taught: 
  • SPED 4150_5150: Introduction to Special Education: Legal, Advocacy, and Assistive Technology Practices and Issues
  • SPED 4151_5151: Educational and Post-School Transition Programming for Individuals with Disabilities
Research Interests: 
  • Problematizing the common sense assumptions about what Learning Disabilities (LD) are through investigating the emotional impact of LD labeling on conceptions of self 
  • The role of affect and emotion in teacher learning as it relates to social justice issues within educational contexts 
  • Transition plans and programming for historically marginalized youth with disabilities at their intersections of multiple identities and their families
Selected Publications: 
  • Hernández-Saca, D.I. (forthcoming, 2017). Re-framing the master narratives of dis/ability at my intersections: An outline a research agenda. Critical Disability Discourses/Discours critiques dans le champ du handicap
  • Moreno Sandoval, C. D., Hernández-Saca, D. I., & Tefera, A. A. (2017). Intersectional rights of teachers and students in computer science and special education: Implications for urban schooling. Urban Education, 1-30.
  • Hernández-Saca, D.I., Kahn, L. G., & Cannon, M. A. (under review). A look inside: How intersectional educational research reveals the multidimensional construction of (dis)abled experiences, for the 2018 volume of Review of Research in Education (RRE), “The Challenges and Possibilities of Intersectionality in Education.”
  • Gonzalez, T., Hernández-Saca, D. I., & Artiles, A. J. (2016). In search of voice: Theory and methods in K-12 student voice research in the US, 1990-2010. Educational Review, 1-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2016.1231661
  • Hernandez-Saca, D., & Staples, A. (2017). Integrating Assistive Technology into Teacher Preparation Coursework, UNI College of Education.
  • June 2017 - 2017 Faculty Summer Scholarship, College of Education, University of Northern Iowa
  • 2016 Doctor of Philosophy, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, Mary Lou Teachers College, Curriculum and Instruction, emphasis in Special Education
  • 2009 Masters of Arts in Education, University of California at Berkeley, CA, Graduate School of Education, Language, Literacy, Society and Culture
  • 2005 Bachelor of Arts in History, University of California at Berkeley, CA, History Major with a concentration in Race-Relations in US History; and a Minor in Education, with a concentration in Equity and Participatory Research.