Dr Sarah Benson MA, PhD

Dr Sarah Benson

Dubai Campus
Programme Director, Inclusion and Special Educational Needs (ISEN), UK & Dubai campuses

Contact details

University of Birmingham Dubai
Dubai International Academic City
PO Box 341799
Dubai, UAE

Sarah Benson is a Lecturer of Inclusion and Special Education Needs.

Sarah studied at the University of Virginia where her focus was on comparative special education practices. She has published manuscripts on Jordanian inclusion policy and practice. In addition she worked closely with research efforts to make science curriculum accessible to students with learning disabilities.

Her ongoing research is into inclusion practices of Jordanian teachers, and the policies of the wider Middle East and North Africa region. She is passionate about high quality teacher education and has worked with beginning teachers throughout her career.


  • PhD (2020) in Special Education, University of Virginia
  • MA (2010) in International Education, The George Washington University
  • BA (2002) English & Special Education, James Madison University


Sarah Benson earned her Bachelors’ in English and Special Education from James Madison University in 2002, going on to teach students with significant emotional and behaviour disorders. During her service in the American Peace Corps from 2004-06 she studied Arabic language and culture, while providing training to Jordanian special education teachers. Upon her return to the United States, Sarah completed a Masters’ degree in International Education at The George Washington University, at the same time she was employed as a teacher, coach and mentor in one of the largest school districts in the United States.


In 2013 Sarah was chosen as a Fulbright Scholar, and travelled to Norway where she spent a year working with Norwegian teachers and students. She was inspired during this year to begin working towards her doctoral degree. At the University of Virginia she has been engaged in leadership roles as the President of the Curry School of Education, serving as a liaison between the faculty and students in one of the top education schools in the United States. As a doctoral candidate she was a part of a team that procured a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for research and development of inclusive science curriculum.

Sarah’s personal research interests lie in the policy and practice of inclusion and special education needs within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She has published research on policy and practice within Jordan. She continues to engage in scholarship activities to promote strong policy and inclusive practices in the MENA region.


Inclusion and Special Education Needs PGCert Course


  • Cross-Cultural Issues in SEND
  • Inclusion: Individual and group differences
  • Evaluation and Policy Analysis for Inclusive Education

Other activities

Sarah is an active member of the Comparative International Education Society, serving as the student chair and assisting with member outreach. In addition she is a member of the Council on Exceptional Children and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.


  • Benson, S.K. (2020) Contextualizing Inclusion: Sense-making by Jordanian special education teachers. Manuscript in preparation.
  • Benson, S.K. (invited). Into the mesa: A case study of Jordanian inclusion policy. In M. Schuelka, N. Singal, & S. Carrington (Eds.), New Directions in Inclusive Education: Conceptualizations, Paradigms, and Methodologies for the 21st Century.
  • Benson, S.K. (in press). The evolution of Jordanian inclusive education policy and practice. Forum for International Research in Education: Inclusive Issue.
  • Benson, S. K., Therrien, W.J., Doabler, C., Longhi, M. (in press). Rubrics: Useful beyond assessments. Science and Children.
  • Therrien, W. J., Benson, S. K., Hughes, C. A., & Morris, J. R. (2017). Explicit Instruction and Next Generation Science Standards Aligned Classrooms: A Fit or a Split?. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(3), 149-154.
  • Hughes, C. A., Morris, J. R., Therrien, W. J., & Benson, S. K. (2017). Explicit instruction: Historical and contemporary contexts. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 32(3), 140-148.