The Y.A.L.E. School’s Voorhees campus is training a new generation of educators to work with students who have autism. Through an on-going collaboration with Rowan University, The Y.A.L.E School has been serving as a practicum site for undergraduate and graduate students in the University’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program. Each semester, one or two practicum students work about 10 hours a week under the direct supervision of Y.A.L.E.’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) to gain experience in the application of behavior analytic procedures.
Following a period of classroom observation and training, practicum students are assigned to a single student who they follow for the semester. Then, working directly with the supervising behavior analyst, practicum students assist in creating data collection sheets, collecting direct observation data, and collecting data on target behaviors. Next, the supervising behavior analyst trains the practicum student how to graph and interpret data. Once data have been collected and behavioral functions have been identified, the supervising behavior analyst works with the practicum student to identify the appropriate interventions, write an appropriate individualized behavior plan, train staff in the implementation of the plan and collect data on the staff’s ability to implement the plan as it was written.
Practicum students meet regularly with the supervising behavior analyst to discuss journal articles, ethical and professional expectations and the application of behavior analytic concepts and methods across settings and populations. The comprehensive nature of the practicum experience allows them to gain valuable hands-on experience, fulfill their course requirements and accrue hours towards their board certification requirements (BCaBA or BCBA credentials).
Leaders at Y.A.L.E. School’s Voorhees campus also collaborate with Rowan faculty and graduate students on mutual research interests. To date, graduate students have conducted research on interventions to increase food acceptance for students who are selective eaters, and are currently evaluating the effectiveness of video modeling to teach question-answering tasks for students using augmentative communication devices. This year, a student interested in Organization Behavior Management (OBM) is conducting a graduate research project on the effectiveness of a staff training treatment package on increasing staff’s use of reinforcement within the classroom. In the future, graduate students will be conducting research on the effectiveness of different prompting strategies, the use of specific versus general praise statements, and the use of technology to increase physical activity of students.
“We are committed to contributing to the field, so when these studies are completed, we hope to present the data at conferences and submit papers to the relevant behavior analytic journals,” said Dr. Rachael Sautter, Ph.D. BCBA-D who supervises The Y.A.L.E. School’s Voorhees campus.
“This collaboration is bringing about many new possibilities for education, training and research,” added Sautter. “Our relationships with Rowan’s knowledgeable and experienced faculty continue to provide Y.A.L.E. with a valuable consultative resource that is allowing both our staff and students to grow.”