BU News

Cohort model resonates with students seeking Applied Behavior Analysis certification

June 17, 2016 by Brandman University
Sharon Noble, Applied Behavioral Analyst

Sharon Noble

When the School of Extended Education created its Applied Behavioral Analysis Graduate Certificate program, they knew they wanted an accredited program, an online program and one that made use of Brandman’s project-oriented focus.

Including all of those aspects wasn’t easy, said Sharon Noble, who headed up the task force to decide on the classes and then designed three of the six. To begin with, the task force needed to keep the Behavioral Analysis Certification Board in mind.

“They are very precision oriented. Everything had to be in a certain sequence,” said Noble.

The solution, which also fit with the Brandman approach to education, was to create a cohort model for the program. Admission to the program occurs just twice a year and students move through the series of classes together.

“The cohort model creates a viable class. You’re moving through all six classes with the same people. You become familiar with them even though you may never meet them,” said Noble.

In the first cohort, who completed the course sequence earlier this year, really understood who they were in class with, said Noble, who taught the first and the last course in the series. “It was pretty neat to see the growth in interaction from the beginning to the end.”

The program is a joint venture with the School of Education and is designed primarily for those seeking certification. It’s also part of the  M.A. in special education with an ABA emphasis program.

“The students were the most motivated students, unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Noble. “It’s amazing to see the kind of work these students are producing. One said she had never done that much research. The Brandman program has assignments that prepare students to do the work of a BCBA (board certified behavioral analyst), especially the level of writing required of one.”

Full certification is a long process requiring field work and sitting for an exam after completing the Brandman program. Being certified allows a person to train others and to develop programs and is geared toward those interested in administrative positions. “You are training other people to implement a program that you designed and collecting data on how that works,” she said.

Although Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is often linked to autism treatment, its uses are far more varied.

“ABA is understanding what in the environment makes us behave a certain we. If we understand the environment, we can change the behavior. We really are behavior and environmental analysts,” said Noble, who has a private practice and contracts with two schools to provide services. “I call myself a social coach.”

“It’s not about how someone with a disability behaves but how people behave. That’s why I like it. It’s useful in marketing and business. As a consumer-driven society, we want people to behave in a way that improves their behavior as an employee or gets them to buy things. Behavior is really everything that a person does.”


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