Specialty Areas

The Department of Applied Behavioral Science provides students with the opportunity to supplement their general knowledge within the discipline by concentrating in a specialized area of study. Students select a specialty area or option within a specialty area from among those described below. Each specialty area has its own required sequences of courses as there are typically prerequisites for enrolling in courses beyond the introductory level. Additional information about each specialty area is provided with more specific details regarding the student interest areas, practicum process, career and graduate studies opportunities, and supporting faculty members.

Adults with Disabilities

Students interested in working with individuals with developmental disabilities in community settings may have an interest in this specialty area. In this specialty area, students are trained to support the development of supportive teaching programs in the community for people with developmental disabilities. Through the coursework, students are taught behavioral-analytic approaches for observing and defining behavior; increasing appropriate and decreasing inappropriate behavior; developing relationships, and legal and ethical issues. Students in this specialty area generally support practicum work with Community Living Opportunities, a community-based residential service agency for adults with developmental disabilities.

Graduates of this specialty area are excellent candidates for positions in residential treatment programs, community human service agencies, and vocational and pre-vocational training programs for people with disabilities. Many students also pursue graduate studies in applied behavioral analysis, special education, or psychology.

Students wishing to complete a senior practicum in Adults with Disabilities should meet with Professor Claudia Dozier.

Basic Research and Conceptual Foundations

Students interested in basic and applied research, and history and theory of applied behavior analysis may have an interest in this area. This specialty area attracts students interested in careers for which research and conceptual skills are prerequisites (e.g., science, technology, data analysis) or graduate programs in the behavioral sciences such as behavior analysis, behavioral pharmacology, behavioral neuroscience. The specialty area has two options: basic research or conceptual foundations.

Basic Research Option- Students pursuing the basic research option learn about behavioral processes and research methods, and acquire skills in the experimental analysis of behavior. Students pursuing this option are required to complete an introductory course in statistics.

Students interested in completing a senior practicum in the area of Basic Research and Conceptual Foundations should contact either Professor Derek D. Reed or Professor David P. Jarmolowicz.

Conceptual Foundations Option- Students pursuing the conceptual foundations option learn about the historical and conceptual foundations of behavior analysis and acquire skills in historical research and conceptual analysis.

Students interested in completing a senior practicum in this area of Basic Research and Conceptual Foundations should contact Professor Edward K. Morris.

Community Health and Development

The Community Health and Development specialty area in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas helps to prepare students interested in building healthy and well-functioning communities. Students and faculty in this specialty area contribute to addressing a myriad of socially important problems and goals in communities (e.g., substance abuse, violence, education, child and youth development, independent living of people with disabilities, the well-being of older adults). The premise for social problem-solving supported by the faculty and students in this specialty area is that problems don't occur or reside within individuals or groups, but rather in the environment in which individuals or groups behave and operate. Therefore, students in this department are trained to systematically examine community-level problems based on the principles and methods of applied behavioral science.

Through the coursework in the specialty area students are trained to analyze community-level problems and goals (e.g., violence, education, substance abuse) to support the appropriate development and implementation of community-level interventions. Students are also provided a service-learning experience in all of the specialty area courses. The course sequence culminates in a two-semester practicum arranged with faculty members and representatives of community organizations or governmental agencies.

Graduates of this specialty area are excellent candidates for positions in public service (e.g., AmeriCorps, Peace Corps) including community, health, and social service agencies. Graduates of this specialty area also often pursue a career, following graduate study, in an appropriate field such as public health, public policy, law, rehabilitation, community development, urban planning, psychology, social welfare, public health, community health, community psychology, social work, urban planning, and medicine.

Conceptual Foundations Option- Students pursuing the conceptual foundations option learn about contemporary conceptual issues in behavior analysis, its history and philosophy, and its relations with the behavioral, social, and cognitive sciences in general.

Graduates of this specialty area are excellent candidates to pursue careers with research and training centers, or graduate studies in basic and applied behavior analysis (e.g., pharmacology, neuroscience), health, and medicine.

Students having already met the specialty area prerequisites (i.e., ABSC 150/151 and 310/311) are eligible for enrollment in practica. Students wishing to enroll for a fall practicum in the Community Health and Development specialty area (ABSC 690/691) must request enrollment by attending a pre-practicum enrollment meeting held at least one week prior to the fall enrollment period. Students are required to complete the practicum online tutorial, the practicum pre-enrollment profile, and attend the practicum enrollment meeting with the instructors. The tutorial and the profile can generally be completed during the practicum enrollment meeting. Generally, students in the spring practica are those students completing their second semester of the practicum. Students needing to request enrollment in the spring practicum for their first semester of practicum should contact Dr. Watson-Thompson to discuss enrollment options and availability. For more information regarding practicum advising in this specialty area, contact Professor Jomella Watson-Thompson.

Early Childhood Education

This specialty area is for students interested in studying young children and understanding the conditions that promote their healthy development.  It includes courses in behavior analysis, child development, curriculum development, parenting, and others that address issues relating to young children.  The program culminates in practica that provide students with direct experiences in toddler or preschool classrooms for children with and without developmental disabilities.  Students completing this program will gain knowledge and experience in the areas of behavior analysis, child development, developmental disability, education, and intervention.  Careers:  This area is relevant for students interested in working with young children in home, educational, community-based, hospital, or other therapeutic settings. 

Students wishing to enroll for a practicum in the Early Childhood Education specialty area (ABS 675, 676, 677, 678, 680) must request enrollment by attending one of two available practicum sign-up meetings held each semester at least one week prior to enrollment. The meetings are generally held in the Dole 4th floor atrium. Students enrolling in an Educare (ABSC 677/678) or Sunnyside (ABSC 675/676) practicum are required to work in the classroom from 7:30 – 11:30 a.m. or 1:45 – 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you plan to enroll in an autism practicum (ABSC 680), please see Professors Claudia DozierPam Neidert at one of the sign-up meetings for a description of the practicum (Little Steps). The hours for Little Steps are 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Prior to attending the practicum sign-up meetings, students should review the timetable and draft a schedule that will accommodate practicum hours. Please be aware that practicum spots are limited and instructors may not be able to accommodate late requests for a practicum.

Organizational Behavior Management

This specialty area is for students interested in studying the application of behavioral principles to people and groups in business, industry, government, and human service settings. This specialty area includes courses in behavior analysis, research methods, and organizational behavior management with a focus on its three sub-disciplines including performance management, systems analysis, and behavior-based safety. The program culminates in practica that provide students with direct experiences improving employee behavior, work safety, or organizational systems within businesses in the community. Students completing this program will gain knowledge and experience in the areas of behavior analysis, management, staff training, and systems-level interventions. Careers: This area is relevant for students interested in behavioral consulting, management, human services, and business.

The OBM practica have limited availability for students. If you are interested in this specialty area, contact Professor Florence DiGennaro Reed. Be prepared to schedule an informational meeting with current specialty area students and an interview with Professor DiGennaro Reed.

 

Related Professional Associations

The Society for Community Research and Action - Community Psychology, Division 27 of the American Psychological Association - is an international organization devoted to advancing theory, research, and social action. Its members are committed to promoting health and empowerment and to preventing problems in communities, groups, & individuals. SCRA serves many different disciplines that focus on community research and action.

Division 25 - Behavior Analysis promotes basic research, both animal and human, in the experimental analysis of behavior; it encourages the application of the results of such research to human affairs, and cooperates with other disciplines whose interests overlap with those of the Division.

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit professional membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

The American Public Health Association aims to protect all Americans, their families and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities.

APA is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. We measure our success by the successes of our members and the communities they serve.