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Karena Cooper-Duffy

Karena Cooper-Duffy


College of Education and Allied Professions

School of Teaching and Learning

Contact Information

Phone: 828.227.3285
Office: 203B Killian Building


Dr. Karena Cooper-Duffy is a Full Professor in the Special Education program and Coordinator of the graduate Special Education program at Western Carolina University. She has been teaching at the university for 26 years, preparing special education teachers to educate students with significant intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and autism. Karena’s work embeds the importance of interprofessional collaboration, team building with families who have children with disabilities. Her research is practitioner friendly and includes the implementation of current evidence- based strategies to instruct students with significant intellectual disabilities. Specific areas of research include teaching students with significant intellectual disabilities functional skills, academic skills and community based skills as well as collaboration with families and professionals. Currently, Karena is working on a teacher rating instrument to assess the strengths and areas of development for teachers who educate students with extensive support needs. She presents her work at local, national, and international conferences. Karena partners with staff who support students with severe disabilities a) in orphanages in Jamaica, b) inclusive placements in London and c) schools in Botswana, Africa.


  • Ph D, Lehigh University, Special Education (Severe Disabilities)
  • MAED, Lehigh University, Special Education (Severe Disabilities)
  • BS, Allentown Business College, Biology with a minor in foreign language

Teaching Interests

Special Education - Severe Disabilities

Research Interests

Teacher preparation in literacy, functional skills, community skills to students with significant intellectual disability, collaboration with families and professionals, online instruction for higher education, and autism.

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