Highest Degree Held: M.A. in ABA
Current Employment/Position: ABA Specialist for a school board
Certification and/or Licensure held: BCBA
Why you picked Penn State Harrisburg?: As a Canadian, I wanted an opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience for my postgrad by going to the States. It was a great choice that I made, as I was able to learn from some amazing behaviour analysts while having the opportunity to network and meet other behaviour analysts from around the States.
A memorable ABA moment at Penn State Harrisburg?: Joining Dr. Schreck/Ivy's lab and having the opportunity to be part of some exciting research!
Describe your thesis/master's project?: I investigated the representation of empirically supported and unsupported treatments for autism on the search engine Google. Results demonstrated that although Applied Behaviour Analysis remained the most frequently mentioned treatment across the searches, a variety of empirically unsupported treatments were frequently mentioned as well. Furthermore, these empirically unsupported treatments commonly included inaccurate optimistic and contrast evaluative comments to describe their efficacy.
How has Penn State Harrisburg prepared you for a career after graduation?: Penn State Harrisburg's ABA program prepared me for my career after graduation by emphasizing the importance of analyzing and questioning everything. The faculty really drill in the fundamental concepts of ABA so that you have a good foundation when you begin your career in the field.
What advice would you give to prospective students?: Ask questions and make use of any opportunity to do research! It's a great experience to be part of research and to be able to present at conferences.
Highest Degree Held: M.A.
Current Employment/Position: Director of Operations, Hogan Learning Academy
Certification and/or Licensure held: BCBA
Why you picked Penn State Harrisburg?: I chose Penn State particularly for the opportunity to study under leaders in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. All of the faculty and their experience and knowledge fostered an environment that was conducive to developing my confidence as a professional in the field.
A memorable ABA moment at Penn State Harrisburg?: It is difficult to identify only one memorable moment that I experienced during my time at Penn State Harrisburg. If I had to choose, I would say when I was accepted to complete my internship hours at Penn State Hershey’s Pediatric Feeding Disorders program. Another would be attending ABAI and participating in the poster session which allowed me to highlight the findings of my master’s project.
Describe your thesis/master's project: My master's project focused on increasing job placement in Welfare to Work program participants. I developed a token economy that reinforced job seeking behavior among participants. The results of my study showed an increase in participants that obtained employment when compared to baseline. Future research is necessary to determine whether the participants retained employment. I particularly enjoyed exploring the many areas in which ABA can be applied.
How has Penn State Harrisburg prepared you for a career after graduation?: Penn State has prepared me for my career after graduation in more ways than I can express in just a short narrative. I attribute my professional success to the knowledge that I acquired and the applied experience that I received at Penn State. The program focused heavily on the science of behavior, which allowed me to work in a variety of capacities and roles. I was not limited to work in one particular area or with any specific population. Having these wide ranges of experience allowed my career to grow into what it is today.
What advice would you give to prospective students ?: My advice to prospective students is to value the opportunity of learning from leaders in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. The relationships and contacts you build during this time are invaluable as you grow in your career. It has been 15 years since I have graduated from the program and I still maintain contact with faculty and my cohort. It is so rewarding to see how far we have all come in our careers and academic accomplishments. I believe all prospective students should build these relationships while studying at Penn State Harrisburg!
Highest Degree Held: Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis
Current Employment/Position: Assistant Professor/Faculty Supervisor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program
Certification and/or Licensure held: Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral Level (BCBA-D)
Why you picked Penn State Harrisburg?: In my search for masters programs in behavior analysis, I found Penn State to be one of the top programs. I was deeply interested in gaining experience and training on the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior and was excited for the opportunity to learn from the amazing faculty at Penn State. I thought the course sequence was strong and necessary to prepare for the BCBA exam and to work as a competent behavior analyst.
A memorable ABA moment at Penn State Harrisburg?: I made lifelong friends while in the program, so I have many memorable moments and experiences. Some of my favorite moments were late-night study sessions in the library quizzing classmates with homemade flash cards; getting together in the summer with classmates to play ultimate Frisbee and go out for milkshakes; giving my first successful presentation in Dr. Foxx’s Applied Analysis of Behavior course on behavioral momentum theory; my first day of internship spent in one of the severe behavior classrooms within the Intermediate Unit. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people throughout my time at Penn State Harrisburg, I wouldn’t trade the experience or the training for anything else!
Describe your thesis/master's project : I evaluated and compared several strategies to reduce one child’s latency to respond during academic trials. The strategies included differential reinforcement with a token economy and response cost. Our treatment led to more efficient learning trials and reduced problem behavior.
How has Penn State Harrisburg prepared you for a career after graduation?: Penn State Harrisburg gave me the tools needed to thrive in the doctoral training program that I joined a few years after graduating with my master’s degree and with my current position as a faculty member of an ABA Ph.D. program. Penn State Harrisburg provided me with a critical foundation so that I could continue to build teaching, research, and clinical skills necessary to be an effective behavior analyst and faculty member. I acquired so many important skills, learned about key principles and tenants of behavior analysis and how to use them in my daily practice to treat challenging behavior, and was influenced by highly trained and intelligent mentors who shaped my behavior throughout my time at Penn State Harrisburg.
What advice would you give to prospective students?: My advice to prospective students is: Definitely apply to this program, as it is truly a strong program tailored for individuals who want to become talented and knowledgeable behavior analysts. I recommend reaching out to the amazing faculty in the program to forge relationships early on and start the shaping process right away. Finally, don’t rush through anything or be in a hurry to get to the finish line. Graduate school is a marathon, not a sprint; take time to learn and grow with each step of the training process.
Highest Degree Held: Ph.D.
Current Employment/Position: Assistant Professor of Special Education at Duquesne University
Certification and/or Licensure held: BCBA-D
Why Penn State Harrisburg?: I chose Penn State Harrisburg specifically for the faculty and how the program was geared towards practitioners. Additionally, I knew that the program was based in behavior analysis and would allow me to sit for my BCBA exam upon completion of the program. The exam pass rate was very high for graduates of the program and the two-year duration of the program would allow me to get in and out quickly while still being successful in my career.
A memorable ABA moment at Penn State Harrisburg?: Two distinct ABA moments that I remember while at Penn State Harrisburg were, first, the time I developed a differential reinforcement plan for decreasing video game playing for a final project in Dr. Schreck's class and receiving an A. The other moment was getting to work with Dr. Foxx on his clinical cases during my last year in the program.
Describe your thesis/master's project: I based my project from a client I was working with at the time and it very much benefitted my practice once completed. My master's project was related to stereotypical behavior and how it sometimes could be similar to obsessive compulsive behavior seen in people with OCD. I went on to review and compare treatments for both that were in the literature.
How has Penn State Harrisburg prepared you for a career?: Penn State Harrisburg's ABA program prepared me for both my clinical and academic careers. Upon graduation I immediately started working as a behavioral consultant and after about a year and half I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at the Ohio State University. When I began my program, I found that I had a lot more clinical experience, and a strong understanding of ABA principles then some of peers. Without the courses that I took at Penn State, I believe I would have struggled through some of the ABA classes at Ohio State.
What advice would you give to prospective students?: Do some research with your advisor! I regret not focusing more on my writing and crafting my research skills as a master's student. Also, get to some conferences! I would encourage you to get to PennABA and ABAI if you can; they are great opportunities to learn from guest speakers and network with other behavior analysts.