Master of Arts

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Applied Behavior Analysis

In the Department of Health and Behavior Studies

Master of Arts

Master of Arts in the Program in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis

The objective of our M.A. programs is to prepare teachers and teacher trainers to use measurably effective instructional practices to accelerate all children’s educational progress, including measurable increases in enjoying learning and schooling, academic literacy, problem solving, and self-management. A key to doing this is the acceleration of children’s language development, which appears to be the root problem faced by English language learners, minority children from economically disenfranchised families, and children with autism spectrum diagnoses. Recent research findings provide exciting new ways to do this. Moreover, accelerated instruction is needed for children from well-to-do-families, if we are to assume international leadership in education. In order to meet these objectives, we provide instructional experiences to teach our graduate-student teacher trainees the following aspects of effective teaching:

  • Utilize research-based procedures for all aspects and subject areas of teaching preschool and elementary-age children.
  • Manage classrooms and schools such that children are well behaved and motivated to learn, using positive and non-coercive practices.
  • Master the existing science of learning and teaching as it is applied to the varied needs of children.
  • Master protocols to identify and induce missing language developmental cusps and capabilities that result in children learning to learn material they could not learn before and how to learn in new ways (e.g., by observation and incidental experiences).
  • Master how to use key educational standards and how to match existing tested curricula and tested teaching practices to categories of students and individual students in order to ensure that the standards are achieved.
  • Master how to continuously and directly measure all students’ progress in achieving standards and new developmental stages and use that measurement to drive instructional practice, including the selection of alternative scientific practices when initial best practices are not successful with children.
  • Master how to scientifically analyze the source of student learning problems and inadequate teaching.
  • Learn to draw on evidence from cognitive learning and developmental research and reading/writing literacy research implemented through procedures from teaching as applied behavior analysis.
  • Master how to teach children to be self-learners.

The Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis Programis an approach to teacher training in which all instruction used by teachers is based on scientific evidence and the use of scientific procedures to fit the appropriate science-based practices to individual students’ varied learning and language developmental needs. The program prepares graduates to be dually certified (provided that all other certification requirements are met) from birth to Grade 6 in New York State. Students may also apply for certification in other states according to state-specific processes and inter-state reciprocal agreements. During the two-year MA program, students complete student teaching requirements and full-time paid internships in schools and classrooms that practice teaching as applied behavior analysis, under the mentorship of PhD students or graduates who are certified teachers. The training of teachers is also based on scientifically tested procedures (i.e., we teach our graduate students until they demonstrate mastery of using scientific practices). Teacher trainees are taught until they master the science and its application with all children from 2 years to grade 6.

All of the training is done in classrooms that practice the CABAS® Accelerated Independent Learner Model (AIL). Students are trained in paid internship positions, under the supervision of experienced scientist-practitioners in the school placements, and attend classes in the evening. What is done with the children in the classrooms is the content of the nine core graduate courses--scientific findings and teaching procedures.  What is taught in the core courses and the related courses is placed into practice daily. The effectiveness of the numerous procedures is well documented in the literature. Recent evidence concerning the outcomes for the children in the classes in which our trainees are taught show that the children perform from two to four levels above their current grade level on standardized tests across reading, language, and mathematics. These children include those who receive free or reduced-price lunch, minority children, English language learners, children with learning delay diagnoses, and upper middle-class children. Teachers and teacher assistants collect direct measures of all the children’s responses to instruction and the achievement of state standards. The model classrooms where our M.A. and Ph.D. graduate students are trained include the Fred S. Keller Preschool (children with and without diagnoses from 18 months to age 5), the Morristown AIL classes K-5, and Rockland BOCES elementary district-based classes. Our full-time and adjunct faculty members are onsite in the schools on a regular basis and are accountable for outcomes for our teacher trainees and the children they teach.

All of the work in the classroom and school settings is tied to the ten core courses in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis that are devoted to classroom management, curriculum design, effective pedagogical practices, and the advancement of a science of teaching. The other classes in the program are devoted to various scientific approaches to instruction, learning, and development. M.A. students rotate placements across different types of students and ages until they achieve minimal mastery of the relevant scientifically based teaching repertoires. The M.A. program lasts for two years, and the Ph.D. requires three to four years of additional training.    

Successful applicants will present evidence of excellent undergraduate academic performance in liberal arts degrees or degrees with strong liberal arts requirements, strong recommendations, and a passion for working with children whose future prognosis depends on highly effective instructional interventions. The program is academically rigorous, and the applied component is highly demanding. Graduates of the program are highly sought after by public schools and graduate programs. Between 15 and 25 applicants are accepted annually.

There are other approaches to teaching and the training of teachers and some who wish to become teachers will find those approaches more in keeping with their goals. But for those who are interested in a measurably effective and scientific approach and who are committed to bridging the educational gap and high quality education for all children, we invite you to join us in what we find to be exceptionally exciting and rewarding work.

Specialization Requirements, Applied Behavior Analysis:

  • HBSE 4015     Applied behavior analysis I
  • HBSE 4016     Applied behavior analysis II
  • HBSE 4017     Applied behavior analysis III: School-wide systems applications
  • HBSE 4044     Curricular and pedagogical foundations for teaching pre-listening through early academic literacy
  • HBSE 4045     Curricular and pedagogical operations for teaching the foundations of functional academic literacy
  • HBSE 4046     Curricular and pedagogical operations for teaching advanced functional academic literacy (4th grade through early middle school)
  • HBSE 4049     Professional and ethical issues in behavior analysis 
  • HBSE 4704     Observation and student teaching in special education: Applied behavioral analysis and behavioral disorders (4 terms)

Breadth Requirement:

For the list of required cognate courses that provide breadth scholarship and practice, contact the program coordinator or the special education secretary. In order to broaden the student’s background in education, three Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major program (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least two points are earned) must be completed.

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