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The Research on Academic eMpowerment of Students (RAMS) Lab is led by Drs. Chin-Chih Chen and Yaoying Xu, faculty in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at VCU. In the RAMS lab, we study learning and development of academically diverse learners, including students at-risk, students with disabilities, and students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds from multiple perspectives. We explore contextual factors and developmental trajectories across preschool and adolescence to inform evidence-based intervention.


The RAMS Lab conducts rigorous research to understand the nature and needs of academically diverse learners (e.g., students at-risk, students with disabilities, and students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds). Our research is based on both primary studies and secondary data analysis. Our work focuses on:

  1. Risk and protective factors associated with academic, social and behavioral learning and development for academically diverse students at risk (e.g., linguistically diverse students’ language);
  2. Social contexts (e.g., peer, family, school) that support or impede academic, social, and behavioral development leading to school success;
  3. Evidence-based strategies addressing academically diverse students’ academic needs and social and behavioral development and promoting their school success.