University Series 004 | Western Michigan University, Part 3

Join Operant Innovations for Part 3 of their interview with Western Michigan University. This week we will be speaking with Dr. Heather McGee about the Industrial/Organizational Behavior Management Program.

Contact Information:

Dr. Heather McGee -

Additional Links:

WMU Department of Psychology -


Shauna Costello (00:03):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast from ABA technologies this week on the university series, we continue our visit to Western Michigan university. We've already heard from Dr. Stephanie Peterson about the on-campus behavior analysis program and Scott Gaynor for the cognitive behavior program. This week, we'll be talking with dr. Heather McGee an associate professor and the co-chair of the industrial organizational behavior management program. Dr. McGee has designed, developed and implemented organizational performance solutions in a variety of settings and industries, including autism service providers, health and human services industries, the pharmaceutical industry and education. These solutions have included performance based instruction, performance management, behavioral systems changes and lean Sigma initiatives. Her interests lie in improving organizational performance through interventions based on comprehensive behavioral systems analysis. So that further ado here's dr. McGee speaking about the industrial organizational behavior management program at Western Michigan university. I mean associate professor and IOBM co-chair Heather McGee. Hello, thank you for being with us.

Dr. Heather McGee (01:18):

Hi Shauna. Thanks for having me.

Shauna Costello (01:19):

Just like we've been learning about Western. Um, this is another facet of Western's very diverse program. And, um, Heather's here to tell us about, a little bit more about the IOBM program at Western and kind of what you can sink your teeth into while you're there. So what is the IOBM program and kind of, where did this come from? So the IOBM program, I know it's a lot to, to get out, uh, and we, we needed it to sort of capture the two sides of our program, the IO, which is the IO psychology side. And then the OBM side, the IO psychology side is offering those courses that would be typical in a traditional IO psychology graduate program, but from a behavior analytic perspective.

Dr. Heather McGee (02:07):

So courses like personal selection and placement or training and development, the OBM side is exactly what you would think it is, is the application of behavioral analytic principles to the workplace, organizational behavior management. And those are going to be our performance management courses like psychology of work, our behavior based safety course, our behavioral systems analysis courses and our instructional design courses.

Shauna Costello (02:34):

What makes it a little bit different when we're talking about the IOBM program. I know recently while I was there, actually there was a development of a PhD program that strictly IOBM outside of, you know, so instead of having just a specialty, like an ABA degree with a specialty in OBM, how did that come about and, you know, kind of what makes Western unique with that?

Dr. Heather McGee (03:02):

Yeah. So in 2014 we, uh, were able to put into place our IOBM PhD program. Up to that point, we'd had a master's degree in IO psychology. We actually changed the name of the master's degree when we added the PhD, um, to reflect the OBM side of what we do as well, more upfront, right? Uh, so we had this master's degree in IO psychology and all of the IO faculty were also at that time behavior analysis faculty. So a student would come in to the master's program, get their master's degree in IO psychology with their IO professor, who, by the way, all of the IO professors are behavior analysts and then would apply into the PhD program in behavior analysis, because we didn't have a standalone IO PhD. So that meant you, you were studying maybe under the same advisor, but your advisor was technically an IO professor for your master's degree.

Dr. Heather McGee (04:05):

And then technically a behavior analysis professor for your PhD, which was a little confusing for students. It wasn't so obvious to them that they could continue to do their work in OBM while they were pursuing a PhD, because we had nothing on the webpage or on paper that said, hey, this is available for you at the PhD level. It's just going to be housed within this existing behavior analysis program. So it was really important to us for that reason, as well as to be able to grow the program, take more students, expand our curriculum and the ways we wanted to, to ensure that our students had, um, really well rounded OBM knowledge and skills. So it was pretty critical to us that we pushed toward a standalone PhD program. On top of that, it's just makes it easier for students to get a job. If they have a PhD in IOBM versus behavior analysis, most of our students will go work in business and industry. And a lot of business leaders don't know what behavior analysis is. So students would find that they were trying to explain how their degree was relevant to the job they're being hired into and having the PhD in IOBM, business managers know what organizational behavior is. They know what management is, and for the most part, they know what IO psychology is. So it was just a little bit easier sell, uh, for our students going into the work world upon graduation.

Shauna Costello (05:36):

And I know that, you know, from knowing the students and being there, that the students in the, I mean in all of the programs, but right now specifically the IO program, they really get to kind of tailor their education and not strictly take classes in the school of behavior analysis overall, but also they can potentially take classes in the business college and other colleges. Correct?

Dr. Heather McGee (06:00):

Right. So one of the things we're really proud of is that we're able to offer a broad enough curriculum for students to take a variety of courses and sort of figure out what their area of expertise will be. Some students really fall in love with safety and they want to be in behavior based safety. Some students really fall in love with instructional design and training and development. Some folks want to go into selection of places, some want to go into management consulting. So depending on what your area of interest is, we encourage students to use their elective credits to help build out that skillset. So if you're interested in doing systems analysis in school settings, for example, we might encourage you to take some outside courses in education leadership or public administration. If you're interested in management consulting, we would encourage you to try to register for business college courses. Now, of course, all of that requires that they, uh, work with the faculty in those programs, uh, every graduate program, it has limited seating. And of course, every program will serve its own students first as they should. But we train our students to be very polite and respectful and, uh, to jump in early and ask if they can be added to a wait list, which is usually how it works. And then it's pretty close to semester. If there's room, they usually get added into the class. And fortunately our students have been successful in those classes. So faculty are more likely to let them in if they have room

Shauna Costello (07:30):

And with these different types of experiences, I know that the students have to get their practical experience out in the real world. Um, so what are some of the sites that the IO students are getting that practical experience at?

Dr. Heather McGee (07:43):

So the practical experience would start for most students at the master's level, especially our practicum students. The difference between, we have two tracks within our master's degree, a master's practicum or a master's thesis, the master's thesis track is for students who definitely plan to go on for their PhD. In most cases, they're hoping for a career in academia. So they'll complete six credit hours of thesis work. So they're running an experiment while they're in their master's degree program. The other track is our practical checklist for students who do not plan to go on for a PhD, they are not going into academia. They want to go right into the world of work upon graduation. So rather than taking six credit hours of thesis, they take six credit hours of practicum coursework. And we have some courses built right into the curriculum. Um, but we also have some of these flexible practicum numbers where students can find opportunities or when outside organizations come to us and say, hey, we need someone to work on this project.

Dr. Heather McGee (08:42):

We can place our students in those projects. So, for the most part, students are getting their first exposure to working with outside organizations and outside clients in our advanced systems practicum. So that's a required course for the masters practicum students, the thesis students might take it during their master's degree, but they'll definitely take it during PhD because it's required up there as well. That's the class that dr. Alice Dickinson teaches, and she's taught that class for several years and has built up a network of contacts throughout Southwest Michigan. So the clients are varied. They're very, very diverse. Sometimes it's just different business units within the university or at other schools locally, we have a couple of community colleges and another private school. So our students have worked with, especially the community colleges. It could be the energy company or Pfizer or Kellogg's, or we've had a lot of different clients for the students to work with over the years, including the association for behavior analysis international.

Dr. Heather McGee (09:50):

So it's pretty widely varied. What's great about that class is the clients change over the years, the projects change over the years and students get to rank order the projects they'd like to work on at the beginning of the semester. It doesn't guarantee that they'll get their first choice, but dr. Dickinson does do her best to try to put them on the project that they're most excited to work on. Um, from there, there, we have a couple of other practicum opportunities for students in instructional design and training and development, but we also get a lot of outside requests. We get a lot of folks who want to be a client for the systems class when we can't make that happen because dr. Dickinson already has her clients we'll let students register for sort of the flex practicum number that we have, uh, and, and have them do project work with those organizations under the supervision of in most cases, their advisor, um, that's sort of their first way into the practicum side of it.

Dr. Heather McGee (10:56):

The longer a student stays in the program, the more skills they've developed, the more qualified they are for bigger projects, more complex projects that come our way either from the university or from, uh, community partners outside the university, because we have the behavior analysis program. We also have a lot of opportunities for our students if they want to work in a more ABA service based organizations, if they're interested in using OBM in health and human services or educational settings where a behavioral analytic work is being done, we're often able to partner up with the BA faculty who have projects going on to place one, one or more of our students within those projects, but strictly to do OBM work, which is really exciting. So students get their feet wet in practical experience through really structured practicum courses where the projects are, are chosen in advance by the faculty members, the clients are chosen in advance. And then as they develop more knowledge and skills, um, when we get outside project requests, we try to match them up with students who have the appropriate skillset and are available, uh, because they're in pretty high demand.

Shauna Costello (12:13):

That's awesome. And I know that some students, when they're looking at master's programs or PhD programs specifically more so master's programs, they are very used to, you know, they're kind of, they kind of know what to expect when they're going into an ABA program and kind of where their job prospects could be after that. But I know that a lot of behavior analysis students, aren't always aware of what or where an IO specifically degree can get you. I know there's a lot of interest in that. So what are just like a sample of job titles that you've heard of, or departments that some of the IO students could kind of expect to be working in some, I know they're very varied, once you get into the world.

Dr. Heather McGee (13:04):

Right? So I'll start a little broader than that even, and say that our students broadly end up in one of probably like five major areas for the most part. Now we have some folks who end up in totally different areas where we just go, huh, that's cool that they are able to, that's the thing about behavior analysis is you can use it anywhere, right. But most of our students end up in academia primarily at the PhD level, uh, external management consulting. So with external consulting firms, um, there are some behavioral analytic external management consulting firms, uh, but also some traditional consulting firms, our students have had success getting jobs in, internal consulting positions, which are typically referred to in some form as performance analysis and improvement or anything related to sort of process analysis improvement, or continuous improvement, also various human resource departments and positions, and then specifically behavior based safety or safety departments.

Dr. Heather McGee (14:06):

So behavior based safety consulting firms or within a safety department within an organization. So those are sort of the broad areas where I think most of our students have ended up in terms of job titles. I actually hear that question a lot from folks. And I see it on various Facebook pages related to behavior analysis and OBM, there are no jobs in OBM, there's nowhere to get a job. So I'm not going to go into OBM. My response is usually, well, if you get a business degree, there are no job titles just called business, either just not how those jobs are titled. The other thing to be keenly aware of is that business and industry changes job titles regularly. So what may be great job titles to look for today that would match your skillset? Probably won't be great job titles in five years. It may be even less time than that.

Dr. Heather McGee (15:07):

Also, one of the things I've learned over the years is that it really depends on the industry. So, uh, education's using one sort of set broad set of job titles. Healthcare's using another manufacturing using another. So depending on the industry you're going into and what the current trend in job titles is, uh, is going to sort of tell you what you need to look for. So I've actually compiled a list that I send out to students whenever they ask about, um, the various job titles. And I know right now, this is already probably out of date and I need to do another sweep and, uh, find some new job titles, but just to give you a sampling here up here. So I have specific names, 21 specific names, and then some broader ones as well. So just the sampling performance analyst or performance improvement specialist is a popular one.

Dr. Heather McGee (16:03):

If you're interested in safety, safety specialists, or even now we see BBS specialists, behavior based safety specialists, uh, continuous improvement or continuous improvement specialists, specialists gets added a lot continuous improvement though. Those positions oftentimes will require additional certifications around lean or agile. So be aware that sometimes it'll say that it's desired and sometimes it'll say that it's required. Organizational behavior might show up as a job title in those roles they're typically using or looking for a traditional business person, someone who has a degree in OB there's an actual degree in organizational behavior. That's taught from a traditional business or management perspective, but the, if you look at the job responsibilities and the, uh, the qualifications it's stuff that OBM-ers can do organizational effectiveness is one quality improvement specialist, uh, organizational design. Um, if you are into working at leadership level and you really want to focus on, um, sort of one-on-one leadership work there's leader development positions, or executive coaching, I've seen just really broad, generic job titles, like performance consultants, which, you know, could be anything. So always read those descriptions training specialist or learning and development or learning and performance if you're interested in, uh, in being in the training or instructional design side. So it's sort of all over the board. And again, it's going to change based on industry and based on, uh, you know, what the current trends are in, uh, approaches to performance improvement. Well, as just job titles in business.

Shauna Costello (17:52):

And I know that I personally experienced that because when I was leaving the clinical ABA world, I took some time to be like, okay, how am I going to switch into a more business setting or what, like, so I know that I was scouring, the job titles were endless. I had to physically open up every single job posting and read what the job duties were and the requirements to make sure that, that, that job title actually fit what my skillset was because,

Dr. Heather McGee (18:28):


Shauna Costello (18:29):

But like you said, it switches even between companies in the same industry. So that, that is actually a little bit of a longer process and a tedious process to open up every single job posting that sounded relatively close to what I know that I can do. Um, and you know, I ended up with the job title, professional development specialists.

Dr. Heather McGee (18:51):

Yeah. Sometimes you open them up. And even something like process analyst or so, you know, a lot of my students, a lot of our students are, are really good at behavioral systems analysis that we have to sort of warn them. Don't try to get a systems analyst job. It sounds like it should be a fit. I promise it's not, they are looking for a computer science person. They want someone who, unless your background is also in data analytics or something. It's probably not the job you're looking for. Some of the performance analysis jobs are really geared toward, or process analysis are really geared toward engineers. They really are looking for engineers in healthcare. A lot of the positions that sounds perfect for our students actually require that you're a nurse. So you just really do have to read all of the descriptions to make sure that it's not, it's not way outside of your wheelhouse.

Shauna Costello (19:52):

I experienced that personally. So, yes. But so now kinda getting into the program. What should students expect? So if they're getting ready to apply to WMU in the IO program, what should they expect?

Dr. Heather McGee (20:09):

All right. So the application system accepts applications through December 1st of each year for acceptance into the program for the following fall. So in other words, if you want to apply into our program right now, you're applying for the fall 20 20 academic year. So you would have to get your application in by December 1st. And our website has all of the requirements for the applications. There's the basic university application. There's a supplemental departmental application. Um, we required the GRE and three letters of recommendation. Um, I think a personal statement as well. You'll submit all of your materials electronically, and those are due again, December 1st, that's all then compiled and any straggling bits of information. Oftentimes I'll admit it's the letters of recommendation. So don't, don't be awful about it, but definitely cape on those faculty members to get those letters written and submitted.

Dr. Heather McGee (21:17):

But we understand that we, we don't hold it against students if it's outside of their control. And a letter of recommendation is, is not under their control. Um, if, if we see that they've invited someone and that person just simply hasn't submitted yet, um, we don't hold that against our students. That information all gets compiled into our application system. And usually over the holiday break and into the beginning of the, um, what we call spring semester, we have fall semester and spring semester because we love to live in blissful ignorance of winter in Michigan. It sort of smacks us in the face of it. So we pretend that it's not there sometimes. So at the beginning of the spring semesters, be in mid January, the faculty meet to review all of the applications and make decisions around applicants that we would like to invite in for our interview weekend and interview weekend, the dates have varied over the years, we sort of go with whatever is open, and is not taken up by a conference or, you know, another university's interview weekend or anything like that. We try to sort of match it to when other schools are doing theirs. So we invite students,

Shauna Costello (22:34):

Do you want to tell students when that normally is, because I know I've personally heard you as you like to call it fight for love.

Dr. Heather McGee (22:41):

I do fight for love, so, it often ends up being over Valentine's weekend, which I think is terrible. I wish for it to either be the week before or the week after sometimes I'm successful. And sometimes I'm not, but every year that I'm not, I want it on record and I make someone put it on record that I was against it. And I fought for love because that's a lot to expect of the applicants and the faculty and the current students to take their Valentine's weekend and spend it on campus. We, we love that they're there, but I get that people probably don't want to spend their Valentine's day that way. Um, especially the applicants stressing out about interviews, just sort of being on. So usually though it's sometime around, um, sometime in the month of February, either first, second or third week of February is usually when it ends up falling.

Dr. Heather McGee (23:40):

And we, so we bring the students in for interview weekend. They tend to get in, I think usually Thursday night, um, they have an evening with their, um, with the current students. We try to place applicants with a current student unless they want to stay at a hotel or they have family that they're staying with. We try to place them with one of our current students. They stay with them and, and get transportation from them so that they can get to know at least one student fairly well. And I think that they typically do like a social event on Thursday. On Friday, we always, uh, schedule our department of psychology research day to be the Friday of interview weekend. And research day is a showcase of the research that's being done in all three of our graduate programs, the clinical psychology program, that behavior analysis program and the IOBM program.

Dr. Heather McGee (24:30):

So it's a great way to see the breadth of the department work and hear about some really, really cool stuff, uh, that you might not hear about otherwise. So we do the Friday research day, and then we usually do some sort of social events, uh, for everyone afterward. And then, uh, dinner that the students do with the applicants. Then Saturday is interviews all day. And then for IO, we do a, uh, an IOBM dinner with the faculty, the current students and the applicants. Uh, we usually try to do it at this really great little Indian restaurant called fat bronze. Uh, if we can, because everyone seems to love it. Then everyone goes home on Sunday after their whirlwind weekend, which was hopefully not on Valentine's day. And then we take the next couple of weeks to go through, um, review our, our notes and make decisions about, uh, offers to go out. So students will usually hear from us with an offer by end of March, uh, or I'm sorry, by beginning of March, uh, to maybe the second week of March. Uh, depends. Just depends on when we were able to hold interview weekend. So that's our timeline for it. And then the whole thing starts over again and we're accepting applications for the next year.

Shauna Costello (25:55):

I know I've seen, I've seen the application, but some of the other students might not, and it might be a little bit different than maybe what they're used to seeing. I know that you typically will rank the professors that you are interested in studying with. So what, who was in the IO program, kind of what kind of research is going on in the IO program? You know, where can they find that type of information?

Dr. Heather McGee (26:21):

Yeah, so we have we have four and a half faculty members. How is that possible, you ask. Dr. Ron Van Houten is actually joint appointed to both the IOBM program and the behavior analysis program. So students applying under dr. Van Houten can be applying either through BA program or through the IOBM program, and they indicate on their application what program and, and then for us, what track they're actually applying to. So, uh, so we have dr. Ron van Houten and his areas of interest and research are in traffic safety. And he does a lot of grant-funded traffic safety work all over the US and Canada. In fact, he's done work a lot of work down in Florida. And, uh, you know, Ron is the person who goes to DC and meets with executives from insurance companies and helps get roads and signs and, uh, walkways changed in cities permanently changed, uh, through his work.

Dr. Heather McGee (27:30):

And I believe absolutely saves lives because of it. Uh, he also, he's also interested in simulation research and dr. Van Houten actually has a driving simulator in his lab, which is really, really cool, and community based interventions and sustainability related work as well. Uh, then we have, uh, dr. Alice Dickenson and her research areas are in monetary incentive systems and feedback and goal setting. We have dr. Brad Heidema, uh, everyone knows dr. Heidema as the staff guy. Uh, so his area of research is time series analysis, and then single organism and quasi experimental design, but he also does evaluation and preventive health practice research then dr. Doug Johnson specialty areas in instructional design. Uh, but he's also been doing some really cool work in creativity as well as in feedback and goal setting. And then my area is sort of a squiggle line all over the place, but primarily I work in systems analysis. So we're trying to do more research in the area of behavioral systems analysis sometimes. Sometimes though that ends up being more along the lines of program evaluation, which is really exciting work. And we've been doing more and more in community based interventions and programs. So right now we're doing some work in community perceptions of police.

Shauna Costello (28:51):

Very nice. And then that can all be found on the WMU website as well. And some, it will take some of you to, I know that some of the, um, professors at Western have like their own website for their labs as well. So all of that can be found on Western's site. So what else is there, you know, besides you're there for school, you know, you're there and you're in the program, and you're busy, but I wanted to make sure I asked to get everyone's opinion. Um, I'm, you know, I'm a little biased because I spent a lot of time in Kalamazoo, but what do you think about Kalamazoo? What should students expect when in your opinion, when they come to Kalamazoo and see it's a real place. And

Dr. Heather McGee (29:37):

So I think the first thing to know about Kalamazoo is that it is in addition to being a college town, it's a theater town, it's a theater and art town, for sure. I mean, there are, I don't know, upwards of maybe a dozen theaters in the greater Kalamazoo area. And in fact, Western Michigan university theater program is, is, is very well known and respected. So we have a lot of theater in the area. We have a lot of arts in the area, but it's also Southwest Michigan. This is a lot of farm lands the direction in the past 20 years or so has been toward wineries and then more recently towards breweries and distilleries. So if you're really interested in micro breweries and wineries and wine tasting, you don't have to go all the way to California and you don't have to go to the finger lakes in New York.

Dr. Heather McGee (30:28):

You can come to Michigan, we have all over the state, lots and lots and lots of wineries, but especially in Southwest Michigan, of course, we're the great lakes state. So we are all about the lakes as well. Um, summertime gets pretty hot in Michigan. I know when people think of Michigan, they think of cold winter, and we definitely have that. So if you're a snowbird, you'll love it, but we also get hot summers and Kalamazoo in and around campus. There are plenty of inland lakes, but, uh, if you drive about an hour West of Kalamazoo to the st. JosephHarbor area, which is actually where I live, you're right at Lake Michigan, I love to take drives up the Lake Michigan coastline and hit all of the little Lake towns and get ice cream and go to, uh, cute little, uh, art shops and spice shops and, uh, little boutiques and things like that.

Dr. Heather McGee (31:22):

That is very, very fun. Um, lots of outdoor activities, hiking and biking trails. We've got rivers, people really like to kayak and paddleboard in Michigan. Um, those are pretty big. So it's just a really beautiful and vibrant area. But at the same time, it's not overly large. So you're in Kalamazoo, you are two and a half hours from either Detroit or Chicago. So it's really not that far from major metropolis areas, but Kalamazoo is smaller. It's sort of a midsized city. Uh, it's about an hour from grand Rapids, which is just a little bit bigger. And then, like I said, two and a half hours to detroit or Chicago, depending on if you go East or West. So you're, if you like big city, you have pretty easy access to larger cities. If you like medium sized cities, you can stay right in Kalamazoo, or you could head up to grand Rapids for a day. And if you just want to be a beach bum, then drive an hour over to Lake Michigan,

Shauna Costello (32:22):

You know, I've now moved from Michigan and I am down in Florida. So it is definitely a change. I will tell you that much. Um, yes, I miss the snow personally, but I know that that is an unpopular opinion. So, that is just me.

Dr. Heather McGee (32:40):

Yeah. I complain about the snow and cold every year, but I don't think I could, I could ever live anywhere that didn't have that the full four seasons. If you come to Western, you will learn to build a wardrobe around four seasons that you never put away. Like, it's, it's a, it's a risky move to sort of put away your winter wardrobe or, you know, your summer wardrobe. Cause you just don't know what you're going to get. Yeah. The fall in Michigan with all of the colors is just phenomenal. Absolutely beautiful.

Shauna Costello (33:21):

So is there anything else that you'd like some of the students coming, you know, looking at programs and seeing what's out there to know about Western as a whole or the IOBM program?

Dr. Heather McGee (33:35):

Yeah. So, uh, sort of historically, uh, we've been around the department of psychology and behavior analysis within Western Michigan university has been around a long, long time. In fact, uh, it was just, uh, a couple of few years ago that we celebrated 50 years of behavior analysis in the department of psychology at Western Michigan university. And I can't stress enough that our three programs are behavior, analytic programs. Only one of them is called behavior analysis. It's sort of the catch all for all things related to behavior analysis that aren't clinical psychology or IOBM. But the, uh, the IOBM program is definitely a behavior analytic program we're the only fully OBM PhD program, I believe in the world, which, which isn't too surprising considering we've been around for quite a while. And, um, we have, it doesn't sound like a lab 4.5 dedicated OBM faculty is, is pretty, pretty good actually.

Dr. Heather McGee (34:37):

And just in general, we try to build a culture at Western, um, and definitely within our program. I think a lot of folks think of OBM and they think business management, as they think competitive and aggressive and arrogant, whether that's an accurate description or not. I think that's what folks tend to think. And we actively work at not tapping that, we actively work on building a spirit of cooperation and respect of comradery of, um, supporting our students and having our students support each other and really becoming friends and support systems for each other while they're here with us. And then of course, once you're a student, you're always a student doesn't matter where you go from there you're you always have been a Western student and you always have access to any of the faculty, not just your advisor, it tends to sorta be everyone. Um, and so you have family.

Shauna Costello (35:38):

I am biased because I of course am a Bronco alum. Um, but that, and like you said, I have access. I have, I don't, I can't even tell you, you specifically. I know I have reached out to after my, after I was done with my program. I think that you are not the only one that has brought up that Western, um, tries to make this collaborative non-competitive family-like program. I mean, you, I mean, I bet you can even talk to that yeah, you might be in the IO program, but if you have interests in seeing what's going on in the clinical behavior program or the ABA program, that there is a decent amount of crossover if that is something

Dr. Heather McGee (36:26):


Shauna Costello (36:27):

Somebody would want as well.

Dr. Heather McGee (36:29):

Actually one of, one of my graduate students was recently funded to support one of the clinical faculty members with her research. I have, I think, two different students who are being funded through the behavior analysis program and faculty in that program. Uh, we do a lot of sitting on committees across programs. So if you're a thesis student or a PhD student, and you're building out your thesis or dissertation committee, the way we do it at Western is for thesis. You have three committee members and they tend to all be internal committee members. They are all internal committee members and then a PhD level, you have three in turtle and one external, but internal just means department of psychology. And so it's not all out of the norm for a student, depending on what their specific research question is to branch out and say, I want my third to be someone from BA or clinical, or if their BA or clinical student from OBM, because I think it maps onto what I'm doing really well.

Dr. Heather McGee (37:28):

So it's nice to have that large, you know, we we're 4.5 faculty members but were part of a larger department and our students are able to access courses and, um, uh, faculty advisors and support for research and projects and just general advice and, and recommendations and things like that. So and funding, um, you know, we, we all work together to try to ensure that as many of our students are funded as absolutely possible. And often that means, you know, you might not be funded in our program. You might not be funded directly in the IOBM program, but you can set your faculty member are working really hard to try to find funding, um, maybe through BA or clinical, uh, maybe through just the department in general, but then also outside of the department at the university level, um, the university level of different business units really like our OBM students.

Dr. Heather McGee (38:27):

So they often get assistantships, uh, throughout the university. Uh, and then of course paid project works and things like that and contracts and grants.

Shauna Costello (38:35):

Awesome. So, yeah. Is there anything else about the program in general that students should know?

Dr. Heather McGee (38:42):

Uh, well, for most information about our program, you can go to the website. Um, if anyone's interested in learning more about our curriculum and what life is like here in Kalamazoo or, uh, in the program, or even after the program in the world of work and getting jobs and things like that, don't hesitate to reach out. Uh, we're always happy to answer emails and set up meetings, even if they're virtual meetings, um, we can do by phone or via zoom or Skype or Google meet or WebEx or any one of the number of, of, uh, resources we have available to us these days. So, uh, yeah, just never, never be shy to, to reach out and say, I just want to know more.

Dr. Heather McGee (39:26):

And also, I would say one thing that some potential students have found really helpful is reaching out and saying, I'd love to come visit. So it doesn't have to be that you wait until interview weekends. You're always welcome to come visit. I would recommend not coming to visit in summer, if you want to see what's happening around campus because it's summer in Michigan and everyone's at the beach, right? Yeah. Yeah. The beach is the Lake not the ocean, but we have lots of lakes. You know, some of them are big enough that you cannot see across them. So, uh, nice Sandy beaches. Uh, but if you come in the fall or spring semester, we can usually arrange for you to sit in on lab meetings, to attend classes, to hang out with students, to meet with the different faculty and talk with them about the program and just get a general sense of, of life in our program and in Kalamazoo. And I think when students have done that, they found it really helpful just to get a more real experience rather than just hearing words about it.

Shauna Costello (40:30):

Yeah. That's awesome. And again, we've heard that from other ones too, so it's nice to know that you guys haven't even talked to each other and you guys are all saying the exact same thing about all of the faculty, all of the different programs. And it's just good to see the coherentness and family-like-ness within the program as well. Cause I know I experienced that too. Thank you so much for talking with me today and describing the IOBM program a little bit more. I know that there's a lot of people out there that don't always know what programs around the country offer. This is a great way to show them and let them know.

Dr. Heather McGee (41:11):

Absolutely. Thank you so much for doing this. This is really cool.

Shauna Costello (41:16):

Yes, and thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for listening to the university series from operant innovations next week, we'll finish up our visit at Western Michigan university by speaking with dr. Jonathan Baker regarding the newest addition to their behavior analysis program, their hybrid program. So as always, if you have any feedback, questions, concerns, please feel free to contact us at


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