University Series 013 | University of The Pacific

Join Operant Innovations as we embark on our most entertaining talks with Dr. Carolynn Kohn, Dr. Matthew Normand, and Dr. Corey Stocco about the graduate program at the University of The Pacific. 

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Shauna Costello (00:00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies this week on the university series. We're talking with Dr. Carolyn Kohn, Dr. Matthew Normand and Dr. Corey Stocco from the university of the Pacific. So we are here with Dr. Carolyn Kohn, Dr. Matthew Normand and Dr. Corey Stocco from university of the Pacific. Thank you guys for joining me today.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:00:27):

Thank you.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:00:27):

Thank you for having us.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:00:28):

Thanks for having us.

Shauna Costello (00:00:30):

And I just wanted to start out with a general overview of the program.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:00:35):

In general. It's a master's degree program, mostly in behavior analysis. Although technically we have two tracks of the program they're really distinguished by one track. Students come in and earn a stipend by doing clinical work that's supervised so that they're able to sit for the BCBA exam once they're finished with our program. Whereas the other track, they typically work as teaching assistants, and many of those students end up applying to graduate programs, doctoral programs in clinical psychology or fields of that sort. Um, so I mean, that's a loose distinction. It's, doesn't always divide up that way. We focus on a mentor model. That's more like, I think doctor doctoral programs. So each faculty member in the program except students to work in their lab with them. So students aren't just generally accepted to the program. They're accepted to work with a particular faculty member, although they can work, you know, across labs in the program.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:01:47):

So that I think is a somewhat unique feature of our program. We do have a research focus, so our students not only do empirical theses, uh, under the supervision of their faculty advisor, but we also expect them to do 10 hours of research a week in the lab that they're in. Now, as part of all of that, I think a very desirable part of our program is the financial assistance. So when students come in, we have always been able to waive tuition. There are no guarantees every year, we are subject to budget approvals and everything else, but, um, we are typically able to waive their tuition and then we pay them a stipend salary stipend to do, uh, their clinical work or their teaching assistant work in the program. And the way it works out is for the BCBA track students, they do their clinical placements, they get paid for them for the tuition waiver. That's where we expect the 10 hours a week of research that they do in the labs.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:02:57):

And it's a very unique, I don't know if many programs that give you this much research experience and then basically cover all of your tuition or nearly all of your tuition, and then give you a salary stipend to get supervised experience field, sit for the exam, or to get teaching assistant experience whichever the case is.

Shauna Costello (00:03:16):

No, that's really exciting. Um, I know that just from, you know, my experience in my master's program, I was lucky enough that my faculty mentor, uh, she fought for all of us in our lab to make sure we had that, but it wasn't always necessarily within the behavior analysis program. Um, I know that some of my lab mates had to go into some of the other schools at Western to, and they had research assistantships, but it wasn't always, you know what I mean, it wasn't always related to what we were doing or for our master's program. So it's really awesome to hear that you guys are going out of your way for the students to make sure that you're helping them financially as much as possible, because I know how much that helped me throughout my program. And then I hear about research and faculty. So which ones do you want to dive into first? The research or the faculty.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:04:11):

It's probably intertwined. So,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:04:14):

Pretty intertwined. Maybe at the same time. Yeah.

Shauna Costello (00:04:19):

Corey, do you want to take this one first?

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:04:22):

Sure. Just a broad overview of it?

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:04:25):

This will be quick,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:04:29):

So I've been studying a subject for the past four years. We'll call him Nat Mormand, an intense clinical case. Very peculiar findings. Um, so my, my research lab has traditionally been kind of diverse in terms of lines of research. We've been doing, uh, research in the areas of, um, autism, but also problems in higher education with, um, just everyday college students. Um, and some, some research with young kids and everyday problems that parents face with young kids. Um, more recently we're starting to kind of narrow our focus and, and really hone in on the work that we're doing with kids with autism or really people with autism. It doesn't have to be kids. Um, and then typically developing kids, uh, with lying specifically. So in the area of autism, we're really interested in, um, kind of that category of restricted and repetitive behavior.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:05:36):

And, and more specifically what we're interested in are, um, the restricted interests that are, um, oftentimes reported with kids with autism, for example, they sometimes dwell on certain topics of conversation and we're really interested in why, why that is and what kinds of interventions we can use to achieve some socially meaningful change in their lives with their families, um, and doing so in, in preferred ways in ways that those, those kids, um, willingly will come and work on those skills with us. Um, and that parents prefer as well. Um, and then, uh, with typically developing kids, um, what we're really interested in is understanding lying and the conditions under which, um, kids will lie and the types of interventions that we can, uh, use as adults to promote honesty, um, with everyday interactions that we have in kids or with kids. So, um, it turns out that lying is pretty, pretty common, uh, in childhood. And there isn't a lot of, uh, single case research, especially in terms of understanding, um, what we can do to promote honesty, uh, when we're interacting with kids. So those are really a, it's a broad overview of the two main things that we're interested in right now.

Shauna Costello (00:06:51):

That's really exciting because I know that even when I was doing some consulting, um not just my clinical work, but afterwards when I was just doing some independent consulting, that was, it wasn't so much with a specific population. So I got a much more diverse behavior pool and lying was a big one. Um, I would get, you know, these neuro-typical kids that just had some behavior issues and lying came up a lot.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:07:19):

Yeah. And it's tricky because usually you don't know if they're lying or not, because you didn't see what happened. So when they're reporting the event, you don't necessarily know what happened. Um, and so you, you have to make a sort of decision in the moment on how to react there. But part of what we're really interested in is how do we, um, how do we develop, uh, or what kinds of interventions can we develop that that might be sort of programmatically arranging practice opportunities to, to, uh, promote honesty so that when you get to those points where you have no idea, what can you do in those conditions, but also what have you been doing outside of that moment to, to promote kind of this history of being honest with me as good, so to speak.

Shauna Costello (00:08:03):

Yeah. And, um, I kind of wonder, this is just kind of a side question, sorry, I might've warned you, these might happen. Um, but, uh, one thing I've noticed too, when working with parents, um, sometimes I noticed this has actually been probably a majority of the time, actually, this is completely anecdotal. Um, but that most of the time parents will be like, what happened and they know what they already know the truth. Yeah. But they're trying to catch them lying.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:08:37):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Shauna Costello (00:08:39):

So that's something that I've, that I had noticed as well.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:08:42):

Yeah. Yeah. So I think, I mean, I don't know, we're trying to figure out this idea of there's this fine balance of when, when do you even ask? Cause sometimes I think the idea of might be better to just not ask because, um, it could be that that's part of how we teach kids to become better liars is because we oftentimes do this sort of dance with them of asking them when we know, and then they start to develop kind of more complex lies maybe in those, those interactions. So how can we arrange opportunities where you do know what's, what's going on and you can reinforce honesty, but I think you have to be selective about what you do there, because there's going to be some times where, um, it's probably best just to provide a consequence for the behavior that you're asking them to report.

Shauna Costello (00:09:24):

That's a really, really neat line of research.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:09:27):

Thanks. Yeah, it was. I mean, I think the other thing that happens is you ask kids and then they're honest, they tell you like, oh yeah, I didn't do my homework. And then you provide some kind of discipline and you might've just punished honesty.

Shauna Costello (00:09:38):


Dr. Corey Stocco (00:09:39):

You know? So I think there's a, there's a lot of things that could be going on there that we're trying to understand better.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:09:43):

And it certainly is relevant to adults. I mean with Corey, you will ask him on a regular basis, did you wash your hair today? You know, and what would happen is of course he would say, yes, it was obvious that he hadn't. So now we don't provide that opportunity. We just hose him down when he comes in the building, and that seems to work well,

Shauna Costello (00:10:04):

This is going to be one of the most entertaining university series podcasts I've ever had, because I'm just going to let you guys know now I'm not cutting all of it,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:10:15):

But just remind me again where that mute button is.

Shauna Costello (00:10:19):

See, that's the good thing about it being my zoom. You can't mute it, I can, I have all of the Power, so,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:10:28):

Yeah, I waited until you were done, honestly, describing your research. I didn't,

Shauna Costello (00:10:40):

I can just imagine what it's like being on campus with you guys all the time.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:10:44):

It's pretty fun.

Shauna Costello (00:10:45):

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:10:48):

Fun but fun, but also, uh, you know, educational, good balance of the two, can't just clown around the whole time.

Shauna Costello (00:10:55):

Well, who would like to go next? Don't be shy.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:10:57):

Oh, sure. I will go. So let's see my research, uh, broadly construed, uh, has to do with health and wellness and typically developing populations. So more specifically though, we're primarily interested in getting people to move more. So many people appreciate that physical activity is a really important health-related behavior. A lot of times they think of it in terms of weight management. Uh, we obviously have an overweight and obesity problem around the world, but physical activity is certainly related to that, but it's also an important behavior in and of itself. Even independent of changes in weight being physically active is associated with a whole range of, uh, health benefits and being sedentary or being less physically active is associated with a whole range of health problems.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:11:54):

So moving more is very, very important. We have for a long time now work with kids, especially in the public schools to look at aspects of their physical and social environments that influence how much they move when they have opportunities to do so. Uh, and they don't have a lot of opportunities to do so they're in school most of the day. So they're sitting in a classroom and they have just a few opportunities either in physical education class or at recess to go outside. And what you find, especially at recess is they're sedentary. For the most part, they don't move. At least they don't engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity. And that's the level of activity that's correlated with health benefits. So we looked at things such as the way the playgrounds are arranged and what kind of activities are available to see how those things influenced physical activity.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:12:48):

Because a lot of people have opinions about how much they do influence it and they do to some extent, but as behavior analysts certainly know our social environment plays a big role as well. So we've done a lot of research in that regard, looking at the way, uh, primarily adults interact with kids, kids interacting with kids is very important too, but that's a little tougher to control. So we started with adults and the way that they pay attention or play with, or ignore kids, how that might influence physical activity. Um, so we did a lot of that. Now we've sort of transitioned into something similar, but new, which is working more with adults in what you might call a health coaching model and health coaching is actually an established and growing field of practice in and of itself that you can get certified in. So my, my lab is becoming certified health coaches and it's certainly not behavior analytic, but it, it has some behavior analysis in it.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:13:54):

And I think it stands to benefit from having more behavior analysis in it. So that's our goal right now is to start looking at the way health coaching is delivered from the perspective of a behavior analyst and try to first get some good data, which there aren't a lot of good data out there on health coaching practices. And maybe try to infuse a little bit of our approach to changing behavior into that field of health coaching. So, um, still health and wellness, but mostly with adults in a more mainstream consultation kind of model. And we do some other things too, but that's the main part of what we do.

Shauna Costello (00:14:33):

And with that health coaching is that a specific certification or is that through like the ICF?

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:14:41):

There are. Um, so there are several bodies that will issue a certification for health coaches. The one that we are primarily focused is the American council on exercise because they're the most well-established body and they are the, actually the only certification body that certified to certify, if that makes sense. So the same body that credentials the behavior analyst certification board that stamps them able to be a credentialing agency is the same body that credentials ACE and their program. And they're the only one that has that.

Shauna Costello (00:15:18):

Okay, wonderful. Yeah. And I know that, I know you talked about like recesses and this and that. And from working in the schools, I feel like the number of recesses has decreased as well. I don't know if that's actually true, but I feel like I was outside all of the time when I even from when I was little.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:15:36):

Yeah. There are not as many opportunities at recess and there are also fewer opportunities for physical education classes as well. Those have been reduced in many, many school districts.

Shauna Costello (00:15:48):

Right, and I know that even when I didn't pay much attention to it when I was in high school, because I was always in some type of physical education class, whether it be like the regular gym or like strength and conditioning or something, um, or a sport, but like for my siblings, they actually opted out of gym to do something different because they just didn't like, so that was an option. I, like I said, I didn't know if that was an option for me cause I'm seven and 11 years older than them. But I mean, I don't know if I would have taken, I don't think I would've taken it anyway, but, um, but yeah, I'm seeing more and more so like my siblings ages like opting out of gym to go do something else.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:16:29):

Yeah. I mean, I mean, I think there's, well, schools are, are very hard pressed to do all that they need to do. There's only so many hours in the day. Um, one of the things I am most sort of geeked up about from our lab is the stuff we we've done most recently with the good behavior game. Cause I think it's easy to roll out. And so we adapted the good behavior game for recess and physical education classes to encourage physical activity. And we called it the step it up game. Uh, one of my former students, Leslie Galbraith came up with that, that name, uh, for her thesis. And it's really just based on the general strategy of the good behavior game in the classroom for good behavior. We just use it on the playground for physical activity. Two teams compete, whichever team is most active by the end of the recess period or PE period wins. And what we found is even fairly trivial things like just getting a step it up champ badge seems to work, uh, gets them more active than, than they would have been otherwise. And I think that's cheap and easy to do.

Shauna Costello (00:17:34):

No, that's really exciting. And I mean, what's some of the adult focused health activities and stuff that you're doing or that your students have done or,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:17:43):

Well, you know, we, uh, we use Fitbits and devices like that, so that we, uh, to some extent, any ways measure how much they move in free living situations right in front of us. I think what we know from the literature for the most part is if you really want them to do it, pay them. I mean, at the end of the day, people who are really struggling to get more active, they haven't been able to do so. It doesn't seem that just providing them performance feedback and setting goals with them and everything is enough for most of those people. Uh, it might be for some, but usually you need some more powerful contingencies in place. I think. So I think the contingency management work that grew out of the substance abuse, uh, fields seems to be the biggest bang for your buck, but we're looking at other things as well.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:18:38):

And Carolyn can speak more informed about this. But one of the things that has struck me about learning about the health coaching field is the, uh, their emphasis in some ways on what's called motivational interviewing, which really is more of a clinical psychology focused on how you talk to the people you're working with to, to first of all, keep them coming back, right? Because if they don't keep working with you, you can't do anything with them. So at the very least they should want to approach you and interact with you. But outside of that, rather than taking a directive approach, telling them here's, what's wrong with you. And here's what to do differently, sort of shaping your verbal behavior into them describing the most important things in the ways that they might, might change them. Um, and I'm somewhat intrigued. It's not, you know, behavior analysts who are more clinically oriented have been using motivational interviewing for a long time. But I think maybe incorporating it more widely might help things because maybe it would improve the outcomes. If you're not simply again telling them what's wrong with them and telling them to do it. But if you can sort of get them to move in that direction and decide on those things, I don't know, maybe feedback and goal setting might work a little bit better under those circumstances.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:20:02):

Now what's funny about all this is in the past week.

Shauna Costello (00:20:06):

I'm just expecting something.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:20:09):

In the past week, Matt Norman has probably eaten more desserts and pastries and I have in 20 years, and he parks as close as possible to the building, so he can take his few steps to his office.

Shauna Costello (00:20:22):

Well, I'm going to back up Matt here, that sounds like a personal problem. I fully support what Matt is doing.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:20:37):

The few step or the pastries?

Shauna Costello (00:20:38):

The pastries.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:20:38):

He's just being honest.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:20:43):

So, that probably is a true statement about the pastries. I would like to clarify that, um, the reason I park close to the building is because I have the adult parking pass that they give personel, Corey has not the B pass, he has the C pass that requires him to basically park on the street outside of campus and walk.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:21:03):

And get a nice walk, you can get a nice walk.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:21:06):

You drive a Honda fit and they don't want it near the building.

Shauna Costello (00:21:12):


Dr. Matthew Normand (00:21:14):

I will say though, you know, practicing what we preach, all of us go on frequent walks throughout the day. That's what we do. Usually Courtney comes by and grabs us out of the office and we go on a 15, 20 minute walk around campus and talk about the world of behavior analysis.

Shauna Costello (00:21:30):

I just want to, I just want to be like floating above you when you two are talking, because like I've said before, probably some of the most entertaining talks,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:21:40):

That was, yeah, there's probably some chunks you could skip, but.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:21:49):

The end of the conversation and a big part of the middle,

Shauna Costello (00:21:53):

Probably the rest of it just yeah,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:21:55):

Most of it's like Matt talking about eighties hair bands.

Shauna Costello (00:22:00):

Hey I could fit right into this conversation. My dad is still in an eighties hair band.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:22:07):

Oh, wow. And me saying something about Prince and Matt saying something terrible about Prince, the musician, not the British guy.

Shauna Costello (00:22:18):

Not the British guys. No,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:22:19):

I did buy him a Prince coffee mug.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:22:22):

That's true.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:22:23):

That's true.

Shauna Costello (00:22:23):

Last but not least,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:22:25):


Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:22:27):

As Matt alluded to my background is a little bit different. So I was trained as a clinical psychologist with a behavioral orientation and then I got to university of the Pacific and they said, congratulations, you got the job. And by the way, you are the director of the master's in behavior analysis program. And I said, what the, what program? Cause, and I still think this is the case. Behavioral clinical psychology knows very little about behavior analysis. So over the last 15 years, I've learned a lot, studied a lot, um, and have grown to very much appreciate behavior analysis, but my research interests then came from a different angle. So have two seemingly very different interests. Although I guess the, the theme behind both of them is trying to use single subject and behavior analysis methodology to answer and ask questions that other fields are trying to answer with group designs.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:23:22):

Um, so the first area is substance abuse. Cause I had a lot of training in graduate school and then as a postdoc in substance abuse and treatments. And when I got to university Pacific, I was trying to figure out how to incorporate that there. And I became very friendly with the person who was the head of judicial affairs at the time. And she was saying, you know, we have this great alcohol education class and all the students who get caught violating alcohol policy come and there's these light bulb moments where we show them, you know, they think they had three beers, but when we tell them what a standard serving is, they're shocked to learn that they actually had nine beers. And so, and she said that they just learned so much from this class. And I said, well, how do you know, what assessments or measures are using to know that they actually get something out of class?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:24:07):

And it actually has some lasting behavior change. And she said, that's a good question. I don't know. So we started by just first observing those classes, um, doing really basic assessments, like how many students pour what they think a standard serving is of beer, wine and liquor before they take the class. And then they take the class where they do all the practicing and everything and learn the epiphany. And then immediately after the class do the core assessments again. And of course nobody learned anything. Um, and so then we started saying, well, you know, the literature suggests that this is a really important skill that our students can count their drinks accurately. They're less likely to engage in incredibly risky drinking and get into all those troubles. So he said, well, I guess the first step then is to see, can you actually teach them to pour a standard serving?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:24:50):

Cause if you can't, then all of that self-report data is nonsense. Um, so we've started by just seeing, can you use, and we're currently using behavioral skills training to teach college students to pour a standard serving. Uh, so the first study was just that, and you can do that with beer. And we did some followup assessment and most students were able to do it again after 730 days, but not always in a slightly different cup. So we use the red solo cup as the training cups. Since that's the one that most people still use. Um, the second study we did said, okay, so you can teach it. You could teach students to pour a standard serving of beer using BST, but then if you teach them that and then they end up in a room full of people who aren't pouring accurately, will that completely disrupted because most of these classes are taught in groups.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:25:43):

And if you've got a bunch of people who aren't learning in scenarios, that can be a problem. So we looked at that and also baseline design and it turns out it's okay, the students who learn the skill still report accurately, even when confederates, they didn't know they were confederates or the group pouring either too much or too little. So the current study then is looking at, okay, so we can do this. Uh, but does it A, does it stick? So does it generalize across time? And then B does it generalize across different stimulus? So if we teach it in this red solo cup, that's round, will they be able to generalize it to a square cup or a teller cup? Because if the answer is no, then the amount of time it takes to use BST to teach them to pour into one cup is kind of pointless because it's takes too much time and then it doesn't translate to anything else.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:26:33):

So my current grad students just sort of asking that question. If the answer's yes, then we'll probably work with the judicial affairs committee to try to incorporate this more formally into their training. And then also look at other avenues for trying to a make self-report more accurate. So maybe using this as a skill, not only for college students, but maybe primary care to get people to more accurately self report their drinking. Because right now we did one study and what people report the standard serving definition to be, so say for beer at 5% alcohol by volume, it should be 12 ounces. People will say a standard serving of beer is eight ounces. And then you ask them to pour a standard serving of beer they'll pour 16. So there is no correlation between what people give as the definition and then what they actually pour.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:27:25):

So it would be good if we could come up with a strategy for improving self-report I think because right now I don't think we have a good grasp on how healthy or unhealthy drinking is because everything's based on self report and nobody accurately reports how much they drink. So that's one area. And then the other area, which seems to be completely different and unrelated is looking at, um, infants. And this came about because Matt and I were driving to school one day, I think, and we're listening to NPR. And for the 80 gazillionth time, this study came up that had also been in the New York times about how infants are born with innate morality and an innate tendency to prefer similar others. And we were just really annoyed and we read the papers on which these claims were based and then methodology just seemed incredibly loose and weak.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:28:20):

So in a nutshell, for all of these studies, there are entrance. Each infant sits in a parent's lap and they watch a puppet show, the puppets, some puppets mean to another puppet, some puppets nice. And then they asked the infants to choose a puppet and then that's it, there there's some variations of that, but that's essentially, if there's one choice made by the infant after watching them some puppet shows, uh, and that is the methodology on which the claim that we're born with innate morality and innate tendency to prefer others is based. So we said, well, we, we can probably do that research. It doesn't seem expensive or overly complicated. So, um, our first grad student we took and we said, let's just do exactly. Let's replicate exactly their study and then have the infant choose four more times. So repeated measures. Um, and there was no stability.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:29:16):

First of all, we didn't get the infants choosing the correct puppet, um, on the first trial. But then the only thing that we found in terms of a pattern was if it's tended to reach for the same side, um, every time. And then we did a second study, uh, in the same kind of vein where we tried to use a multiple baseline design to look at well, what if we manipulate a variable cause perhaps what's going on as sort of a clever Hans effect where parents are watching the puppet show anyway, and maybe they accidentally lean, you know, unintentionally lean in the direction of the right puppet that the infant's supposed to choose. So we, um, put in a parent manipulation at a certain point in the muscle baseline to see if, if that would affect in reaching and on the whole it didn't.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:30:01):

But what we did see is that almost three quarters of the infants reach for the same side most of the time. So, um, my current grad student is probably going to be looking at, is there any stability in infants reaching for a puppet because if you can't get an infant to reach for the same puppet, more than once in a row, then what is it that they're measuring when infants are reaching once and then making these incredibly important claims? Because if it's true that we're born with an innate tendency to prefer similar others, that was suggest that racism and all that kind of stuff is innate and there's and it's not learned. And, you know, from a behavioral perspective, obviously mostly things seem to be learned at a very young age, but still learned and can be unlearned. And so that's sort of why we're doing that. And the ties between these two incredibly different areas are just, I guess, methodology and using the single subject design to try to tease out what we can't know from a group design.

Shauna Costello (00:31:02):

No, and I think that's really exciting too, because I know that you said like you came in when you started describing what you do in research that it's different in this. No, we need that the field needs that though, because you have this type of, you have this skill set, that's different than a lot of traditional radical behaviorists coming in, where you can start bridging a lot of these gaps, like you said, into the clinical psychology field that some others might not be able to do as well. So I think it's very important. And one of the things too, that I was thinking about when you were describing the alcohol pours and how accurate they are, I know that it kind of made me wonder because I'd been a waitress and bartender for years. So I'm like, I wonder if I could like actually pour some I'm like, I think I could actually pour something pretty accurately. So it makes me think about that too, because I know that a lot of college students like, you know, they pick up a lot of waitressing and bartending too.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:32:00):

There's a study actually, there are some studies that look at trained bartenders compared to the average person on the street and trained bartenders do okay. Unless you change the shape of the glass too much. And they're just as bad as average Joe on the street. So,

Shauna Costello (00:32:15):

I can completely see that. That's yeah, that's really, that's really, really interesting. Um, and to speak about like BST and stuff like that, cause you brought it up. Um, when I was at FABA this year, Miltenberger actually gave a really, really cool talk about the BST research and how it's not actually, it might not actually be as effective as we think it is. Um, and not so much that it's not effective, but he explained it really well in his lab. And his students are doing some really killer research.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:32:49):

That's good. Cause actually Corey and I had a shared grad student and one of our tentative conclusions in the discussion of the manuscript was the BST. Maybe wasn't it wasn't ineffective, but it wasn't as effective as people seem to think it is. And we got a bit of pushback when we submitted the manuscript the first time for that, for saying that. Then actually Corey did most of the writings, I don't know Corey if you want to say something about that.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:33:22):

Sure. I mean, I'm so specifically in the area of, uh, interview skills and, uh, there are some studies back in the seventies and eighties that, it wasn't called BST at the time. Uh, they oftentimes called it like behavioral interviews, training, or social skills training or something like that, but it had all the same components of instructions, modeling, rehearsal and feedback. Um, and when you dig into those studies, they're not necessarily bad studies, but there's some limitations to them. And some of the notable limitations are that some of the responses that are being taught are, um, probably not meaningful for, uh, everyday college students. So thinking about sort of maybe the complexity of the responses that we teach could really be different in terms of how effective BST is. So some of the old interview skills studies teach like one sentence wrote responses to two questions or sometimes the, the skills that are taught are fairly, um, loose and the measurement is pretty subjective.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:34:34):

Uh, so we see in the graphs that there's changes, but they're using like subjective rating scales and things like that. Um, so there's some limitations, I think, to the research that we don't necessarily know everything we could know about BST. And I think sometimes it is assumed that, um, it always works, but I think that there's a lot, maybe some more things to learn about it, uh, in terms of, um, in the interview research and especially, um, I think the one thing that I've really learned from the research that we've done too, is that to teach interview skills well using BST, it takes a really long time and I think it takes way more time than anybody has.

Shauna Costello (00:35:18):

And no, I think that's a really good point. And um, students always ask me and I'm like, they'll ask me a question and I'll be like, what's the best answer you can give as a behavior analyst. And they're like, it depends cause it, it does. It depends. It depends. Um, and I actually pulled up my notes from FABA from, um, Ray Meltonberger's talk. And some of the notes that I took were BST works for skill acquisition, but does not always promote generalization in situ training, 'cause he's been working on like mashing them together as well, promotes generalization, but is not accessible. So they need to further enhance BST and IST to make it more accessible and easy to practice, to follow. So I think what you said, I know that you said that you got pushback on it, but there's clearly other research being done in the field and probably being submitted as well. That's saying the exact same thing. So, and I think that goes back to, you know, what's our golden rule is it depends because it really does. It completely depends. And I, you know, and that's one thing that we see a lot in clinical work sometimes is kind of these just like, okay, yeah, I know what to do for this behavior because I've done it before. So I'm going to throw this same thing at it, but that's not always necessarily the right answer.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:36:48):

Yeah. I think, I think another factor could be that, um, some oftentimes BST studies will focus on teaching people skills for the first time. Like they've never learned them before. And um, when you are trying to, to sort of remediate errors, in other words, they already had a history of performance. Uh, in that context that might be a little bit harder, uh, in, especially if maybe they are still practicing those skills outside of the very brief moment that you get to work with them basically. Um, so you think like, Oh, we're using BST, it's gotta work well, depends if they're, they're spending 90% of their time outside they're um, practicing the errors elsewhere. That's going to be pretty hard to overcome, I think in your 10% of time you spent with them. So

Shauna Costello (00:37:34):

Yeah. And so no, it's really cool to see that there's even more research being done on it because yeah, I think BST is good for some things, but I don't necessarily think it's right for might not be right for everything. So, no, that's great. Um, and so I know that you three went in depth about your research in your students. Um, I know that from the website, there are some other faculty members, um, are they also in the program and who are they? And maybe just a, I know, I know you probably don't want to go into depth about their research or anything, but just kind of a overview of what they do.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:38:12):

Yeah. I mean, I think we can be fairly general. So the other faculty in the program, there's three others. One is, uh, dr. Scott Jensen, he's a clinical psychologist as well. He deals mostly with kids and his focus tends to be on peer training, uh, behavioral parent training. So, uh, he uses Glen Latham's materials and things of that sort and incredible years parenting program, which is a evidence-based parenting program all rooted basic behavioral principles. Um, so that's what, what Scott does. We have two other faculty who are not behavioral analysts, um, dr. Jessica Grady, she's a developmental psychologist and she focuses a lot on kids and emotional development and shyness and things of that sort. Uh, dr. Carla Stricklin-Hughes also is a, uh, cognitive developmental psychologist. And she deals with aging. So issues that affect us as we get older, but they are in our graduate program and they do take students, but they don't necessarily work with the behavior analysis students.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:39:24):

Their students are more likely to want to go on to clinical psychology programs. Um, or maybe this is sort of their bridge of trying to figure out if they want to go into a clinical psychology PhD program or something like that. So they take all the same coursework, uh, as all of the other students, but then there are research areas focused on developmental psychology.

Shauna Costello (00:39:48):

Okay. No, but that's exciting because I can imagine that for even students coming in, I imagine that that can give some other potential opportunities to students that might be a little bit different if they're, you know, if they're going into like a strict behavior analytic program versus you guys having this diverse faculty.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:40:06):

Over the years, Scott Jensen has worked with several of us on different projects. And I mean, his interests are probably the closest to a behavior analyst's interests. Um, the other folks, not so much, I think just we do different things. I would say we have some interaction, but even the three of us don't necessarily collaborate frequently. We do sometimes, but not, not frequently.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:40:34):

I would say where maybe collaboration happens is being on thesis committees. So for example, um, Corey and I are the two community members of Jessica Grady's graduate student's thesis committee, uh, and then, um, then we're always on each other's committees. And I imagine Carla Strickland, who's student will probably be proposing in the next six to 12 months. And I imagine, you know, one or two of us will be on that committee as well. So I would say that's probably the greatest way that we collaborate research wise.

Shauna Costello (00:41:12):

Yeah. But I mean, just to have those different perspectives is something that, you know, not a lot of programs might have because, um, I know that, uh, you know, I, I'm kind of from a program that sort of like your guys's Western is set up kind of the same. We have developmental, we have clinical, we have behavioral. And so we all, they all kind of meshed too when it comes to the committees and how they work together. So I completely understand. So what can students expect when they come into the program? You know, and what are the, what are some of the courses that they're going to take? I know that you mentioned, you know, kind of, what's like the schedule, like you talked about 10 hours of research a week, things along those lines,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:41:58):

Well we tell them they can come in and they have to be prepared to work quite a bit. I mean, it's more than a full time job. And by providing them both clinical placement or teaching assistant position, the research lab expectations in the classes, there's not time to work at Starbucks or somewhere else. Yeah. It's sort of an in residence program. You have to be all in. So in general it works out to be roughly they do 20 hours a week, stipend work. So clinical or TA, they typically take two classes or the equivalent of two classes once they get into thesis, that takes some units, but it's the equivalent of about two classes this semester and then the research hours. So just at that, you have a full time job; nevermind, studying and all of the other kinds of things that might go on. And, uh, I'll let others talk about this. But I think the way that I always talk to the students is we only have two years with you. And our field puts a lot on that two years in a master's degree, because basically you can go out and do whatever. Uh, so we have to provide you as many opportunities to practice and practice and practice all of the essential skills, which means you have to put in a lot of time while you're here.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:43:26):

Yes. I would say that's accurate. And then occasionally we get students who want to apply, but want to keep the job they have. And we say, look, that that likely won't work out for you because there aren't enough hours in the day to do that. And no student who's tried that has ever successfully completed the program. So, um, it is, I think a while back, we had students track their hours just to get a sense of how many hours a week. And it was somewhere between 45 and 60, maybe 65, depending on the week and what was going on in class and things like that. Um, just pretty intensive. So, you know, we just tell them, it's not Monday through Friday nine to five, it's definitely a lot more time, but we're trying to cram in a crazy amount of information, make sure that you actually get to practice it and do it and do it well in a very short amount of time, it is two years is the absolute shortest amount of time a master's program could possibly be. And then it is in the field of behavior analysis. Like Matt said, you can go off and do whatever own a business practice supervise people after just that short amount of, so we do try to give them as many opportunities as possible.

Shauna Costello (00:44:36):


Dr. Corey Stocco (00:44:36):

And I,

Shauna Costello (00:44:37):

Oh yeah. Go ahead.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:44:38):

Well, I was just going to say, I think part of what's, what's what that is. And what's nice about our program of having everything in here is that we have a lot of contact with our students in all different settings. So in the classroom and they're in our search labs, um, we, we all sit in on, uh, clinical meetings. We each sit in on one in group clinical meeting, uh, once a week. And so we get to see them in all different contexts. We have a pretty good idea of where their understanding is and where their skill set is at, at given points in time. And I think part of the rigor of our program is in addition to the classes and in research is that you're oftentimes preparing presentations for lab and clinical meetings. So students are frequently, um, having to, to perform. It's not just sitting in a class and passively, um, absorbing material. You have to actively engage with the content and concepts that you're learning in the classroom, not just in the classroom, but also in our research labs and in, um, in your clinical work. And then on top of that, we, we all encourage them and mentor them in terms of, uh, working on their public speaking and presenting skills too, which are tremendously important, even if you're not going into research, right. If you go into a clinical job, you're going to need to stand in front of a room people and explain things or train people on things. And I think our students get a lot of that in a short amount of time.

Shauna Costello (00:46:02):

And I know you talked a lot about the research focus in the courses, but what about the practicum opportunities?

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:46:10):

I mean, I think we have a very nice arrangement that many programs don't have for logistical reasons. And that is all of our clinical experiences in house, which is why we said our students don't have their part time jobs or whatever it is. Um, so we're very fortunate. Holly white is the director of our clinical services and has been for many, many years now. And she's a product of Pacific that's where she got her graduate training and undergraduate training. Um, and she is responsible for it. I mean, she gets and manages about $2 million a year in clinical contracts, which is how we're able to do all the things we do with the financial packages from students. And so there are, um, several primary settings that students work and they are separate contracts. Holly oversees them all. And then we have full time masters level BCBAs who are the immediate supervisors for the various contracts that they've worked with, our graduate students and other people. So, uh, the probably the longest standing clinical program in our department is the Martin Gibson center, which is a center that serves adults who have mental health diagnoses. So, uh, very commonly schizophrenia and things like that.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:47:32):

And there are some programs that are associated with that center, like independent living skills, um, where the idea is to teach them to better manage their lives, live more independently, problem solve when they're having troubles and all of that sort of stuff. Um, we also have a longstanding contract that actually Dave Wilder who's at Florida tech, Dave and I were there together when Dave was at Pacific, he got the, the first grant or contract with the Stockton unified school district. And we've maintained that ever since. Um, so we work in their pre kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classrooms with typically developing kids who are exhibiting behavior problems that put them at risk of successfully transitioning to kindergarten first grade and beyond. Um, so we get individual referrals. The students go in, they do functional assessments, they design function-based interventions. Sometimes it requires working at home as well, but those services, um, are for that age group, which is cool.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:48:35):

And then we have, um, broadly speaking and it's a lot of different things together, a sort of severe problem behavior group of contracts that are, uh, uh, group homes and things of that sort where oftentimes you have adults, um, they might be diagnosed with autism or developmental disabilities of some sort, and they're engaging in severe problem behavior and they need behavior analytic services in that regard. Um, so there are multiple, and there's a few other things that can come and go, uh, in terms of, well, there's the BIS program, right? Which is adults it's, I sort of always think of that in terms of the Gibson center, but it's not the Gibson center, but it's often similar populations in group homes in many cases. Um, so they get a lot of varied experiences. And I think the value of having a university based clinical experience is that we have a lot of control over it, which means we can make sure they get experience doing all of the best practices that we know about. Um, sometimes even if they're not critical to do, but we want the students to do it because it's their opportunity to practice it under supervised circumstances so that when they go out, they know how to do these things like functional analyses and the like.

Shauna Costello (00:49:55):

Yep. And I know, especially this has been brought up in a few of the other California school interviews, but California is much more progressive when it comes to getting behavior analysts in schools. Then a lot of the rest of the country is, um, but that is, I was lucky enough to get some of those skills in my master's program, so that when I did go out, I actually started working for an education company that had school contracts, where it was the same thing. We would get individual individual referrals and they might have some sort of, um, you know, some sort of accommodation that they need. But a lot of times it was typically developing in the general ed classes, but because I wasn't in a university program anymore, an FA might not always be appropriate. Um, or I might not have enough time to do an FA or a lot of these other considerations as well. So it's really cool getting that, hearing that they can get that kind of experience. And I actually started in group homes. So that's really one thing that got me really, I was in undergrad at Western and I was working for group homes and for an adult day program as well. And so it, it reminds me, just hearing about the programs that you guys have really reminds me of kind of where I started because a lot of people they're very used to hearing, Oh, we have early intervention services for kids with autism

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:51:29):

We actually don't have that.

Shauna Costello (00:51:32):

And as amazing as that is, and as needed as that is, it's so cool to hear a program that doesn't even have it because there's so many other cool things that could be that are, that need to be done. Um, I loved when I was, when I was doing my independent contracting, I had clients, that had schizophrenia and it was some of the coolest experiences that I got. Let me see. I think we've talked about the program overall, the practicum sites, the faculty, the research. How about the interview process? What does the interview process?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:52:07):

So we,

Shauna Costello (00:52:09):

Application interview process.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:52:11):

So we have the applications online, um, it's due at least for now, anyways, it's due every February 15th for the incoming fall class. Um, we typically get somewhere between 35 and 60 applications a year. It varies quite a bit. And we typically take about six students out of that application pool. Some of the folks in the pool aren't actually a good fit. They're looking for an MFT program. Uh, so they automatically weeded out, but there are, you know, quite a few who are good fits. And so then, um, what we typically do is once all the applications are in, or at least mostly in, and we can see who's wanting to do what and what their background is and all of that, um, all of the applicants who meet our basic criteria. So at least a 3.0 GPA, um, at least in the realm of the middle of the GRE score somewhere in the middle, um, and at least some relevant experience, whether it's some coursework or some research or some applied work, um, to indicate to us that they have some idea of what they're applying for.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:53:22):

Um, once we have all that down, then we look to see one of the things they're supposed to do is indicate their top one, two or three faculty that they'd like to work with and why. And so then we'll just go through and look and see who listed who first and second, and we'll look at the application carefully. And, um, so if I'm listed first, I'll look at it and I'll say, yeah, this, this student seems like a good fit. They seem reasonably strong academically. I'll reach out to them via email and set up a time to Skype with them and basically that's their interview. And so we meet, we do the Skype interview, I'll ask him, you know, why Pacific? And do you have questions for me? Um, a lot of times I get students, so not so much Matt and Corey, cause they're obviously behavior analysts.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:54:11):

Um, but sometimes I get students who are interested in going on to clinical psychology PhD program, but they don't have any behavioral background at all. Um, and it's clinical psychology is a very broad field and the behavioral clinical psychologists are like one little itty bitty sliver of the whole clinical psychology pie. So I will send them a few articles to read that very clearly lay out the foundation and the core of our program. Um, and they're also something that they can wrap their heads around. So two of them are articles that Matt usually assigns in their, one of their very first classes in one of the very few, first few weeks of the class has said something that a former grad student, um, who was not behavioral coming in and said, well, that just really set off light bulbs for me. And I really got it.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:54:55):

So I send those two articles, and then I send a third article about a behavioral analytic interpretation of the DSM diagnoses. I ship that off, give them how much time they need to read it. And then during the Skype interview, I asked them about it because I want to gauge is this shocking? And is it going counter to everything that they just learned as a psychology major? Are they going to be really unhappy in our program or are they really excited about it? Do they have good questions? And so I'll do that as well. And so we all do our own individual Skype interviews, and then we decide if you like a student, then they'll get an offer. Um, and since we're so small, we can only make a few offers at a time because we only have our six slots. So then we ask students, you know, if you get an offer, try to decide as soon as you can, because if you say, no, you know, then we have to move on, but that's definitely how we work it. So the last few years we've really tried to do Skype interviews and they're really helpful.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:55:52):

We, uh, so it is a fairly competitive program. I think I forget the last calculations, but usually the, our students have like a three, five or three, six GPA coming in and, and decent. Yeah. Um, so it's good. I mean kind of giving you an idea of how competitive Corey has applied every year to our program and he's yet to get it. Uh, he even applied to work with himself last year.

Shauna Costello (00:56:28):

That's rough. Corey, I'm sorry. Very sorry, Corey.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:56:33):

The office he's sitting in right now, I mean, he doesn't even have anything on the walls. He doesn't know how long he's going to be here.

Shauna Costello (00:56:38):

Can't get comfortable anywhere. No, it's good to hear that,

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:56:51):

I don't even have a comeback to that, usually I have some snarky, like usually we have a little bit of a back and forth snark, but I don't have anything.

Shauna Costello (00:57:01):

He got you for a while.

Dr. Corey Stocco (00:57:03):

I'll let him have that one.

Shauna Costello (00:57:06):

Um, but no, it's good to hear because I think for what you guys are doing, having that competitiveness is a really good aspect. Um, because I mean, it sounds like you guys put a ton of time and education and focus into the students that you are producing. So it's quantity, it let's rephrase that. It's quality over quantity instead of this, you know, let's just pump out as many BCBAs as we possibly can because that's not necessarily right, either. It's really good hearing that.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:57:39):

We're on the other end of the spectrum of that,.

Shauna Costello (00:57:41):

What'd you say?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:57:44):

We are definitely on the other end of the spectrum of that. I think one time Holly white and I, uh, briefly for a minute did some math when, uh, Jim put up the pictures of the number of BCBA's each year and how that curve just goes up exponentially. So Holly and I did some math and we're like, I think we're 1.6% of all BCBAs ever created, but that's okay. Quality, not quantity.

Shauna Costello (00:58:10):

Yes. And I know that, um, because of the past rates and stuff on the BACB, um, I mean, from what I see on there, you guys have a hundred percent, it says a hundred percent in parentheses six. And I know that, I think for 2018 is, has an asterisk. So I don't know what that means.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:58:32):

It's because of the numbers.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:58:32):

It's because of the numbers.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:58:35):

Nothing is hidden though. I don't think we can explicitly say but you could extrapolate from those data.

Shauna Costello (00:58:41):

Right? Yeah.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:58:42):

And I can say actually that for the last 15 years, a hundred percent of students who have applied to doctoral programs have been accepted.

Shauna Costello (00:58:55):

That's very exciting. And that was actually going to be, my next question was where are a lot of your students going after they leave?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:59:04):

So, um, in terms of doctoral programs, since I keep a running list, I think that on top of my head, um, so they've gone to, uh, university of West Virginia, or is it West Virginia, West Virginia university? Um,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:59:22):

Well, university of Florida, Syracuse, uh, uh, mineral Meyer. So the university of Nebraska, where else?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:59:33):

University of Florida.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:59:34):

Already said that,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:59:35):

Okay, sorry.

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:59:35):

um, had multiple students there, uh,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:59:38):

Auburn university,

Dr. Matthew Normand (00:59:40):

Yep. Auburn,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (00:59:42):

Um, university of Texas at, I think in Austin, that's for Derek. Bowling green university. So they've gone lots of places or Utah state. So they've gone to lots of places. Uh, some were behavior analysis programs, some were special ed and some were clinical psychology.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:00:05):

Oh, university of South Florida. I think we populated the entire first two years of the program. He's been very good at accepting our students. So yeah,

Shauna Costello (01:00:20):

I mean, he is a really cool, I mean, it was my first time meeting him in person at FABA I mean it was my first FABA too so, but I mean he's a really cool guy. So I can imagine

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:00:32):

We have a lot of students that do cli, that don't go on to PhD programs and do clinical work, uh, mostly through California, I think since I've been here and a lot of people kind of stick around this Northern California region too,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:00:50):

A lot have done clinical work, or other things entirely, some of them.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:00:54):

A couple of them, but mostly, yeah, they go out and get those clinical positions and more recently people have been staying in California, but earlier on, they kind of went back to where they were.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:01:04):

We've got a few alumni in Sacramento and some Berkeley and San Jose. Um, so they're kind of all over the place, Los Angeles I think.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:01:15):

And they often hire their graduates as well. Right. So one of the things about our program too, that I think is nice, our student that we, the students, we accept aren't local students, typically some, but we draw students from all over the country. I mean, we get lots of students from the university of Florida's undergraduate program and places like that. So, um, that's why I said they would often go back. They weren't necessarily California people. So, you know, but some of them decided California was better.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:01:50):

They're not from here, but when they get here they go, oh, this is lovely.

Shauna Costello (01:01:54):

Well, honestly, after, after living in Florida for a year, I could completely understand California would be better.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:02:04):


Shauna Costello (01:02:05):

This is no secret. Everybody who knows me knows that I'm not a fan of the subtropical climate. I was not created for this climate at all.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:02:15):

This is one of the weirdest States in America, too, it's a very strange place.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:02:20):

Our applicant pool from florida, what are you doing? Florida is a wonderful, fabulous place. Some of the brightest people I know are from Florida.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:02:28):

I don't disagree with that I just think it's a weird place in like geographically,

Shauna Costello (01:02:35):

I will say it is a fabulous state for behavior analysis. Fabulous. So I'll redeem myself. No, I'm very happy to be down here and working with the people that I work with. It's, that's why, I mean, that's why I came down here specifically for that. So, um, but no, that's like, no, that's really great. And since you said that most of your students come from out of, outside of the area, what should they expect when they get there? Because I like, I, like I told Corey earlier, I really don't know anything about California. I've never been out there. You know, I'm just finally going that far West in a few weeks,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:03:18):

Michigan is definitely nothing like California.

Shauna Costello (01:03:19):

I know exactly. I know. I said, I'll be much more North, but I'll still finally be West.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:03:27):

Lifelong California resident here.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:03:30):

So if you were to apply to a program, be accepted and you had no idea about California. The first thing we do is hook you up with our graduate student representative. So every year we've got a second year student who serves as the representative. Um, and we have a running list of places that students recommend that each other lives, apartment complexes, houses for rent, things like that, and a running list of places not to live. Um, and we immediately connect you with the other students in the labs, which you've been accepted and that grad student representative. And they can tell you from the student perspective all about living in California, cause many of them have moved from somewhere else also. Um, and what to expect and the campus and around campus. And then of course, we're in contact with the student and Holly White's in contact with students and any other questions they have about California. Um, you know, from a very old person's perspective, we can answer that. But the student perception, I think is helpful in general, having lived in California, but then also having lived in Philly for grad school and Reno for my internship, um, California has the best weather, bar none, of any state in the country.

Shauna Costello (01:04:45):

You're talking to a Michigander here. So we might have to argue about that, but that's okay.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:04:52):

Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Southern California, and Northern California is outside right now. The leaves are all turned. They're gorgeous, yet it's 72 degrees, but it'll get down into the thirties tonight. So you can bundle up and put on a jacket, but then it'll warm up by the mid day to 70, it looks like fall.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:05:13):

You can drive to the snow. It's only an hour and a half away. And then when you're done with it, you can come home.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:05:17):

It's zero, in Tahoe right now. Zero.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:05:19):

Which is only an hour and a half away. So I, I have to say California, especially Northern California has the best weather.

Shauna Costello (01:05:28):

I will say [inaudible] told me that I did have to come out and visit. And I know you guys are relatively close, right?

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:05:35):

Well we were, we live in Sacramento, so,

Shauna Costello (01:05:37):

Oh, okay. So yeah. You are relatively close. Like I said, geography of California. I know nothing. We're not going to compare it to Flordia.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:05:51):

Yeah. But, uh, yeah, so we, I mean, we try, uh, cause I remember moving out to Philadelphia, knowing nothing about the East coast for grad school, knowing nothing about where I was living, except that, uh, over the phone I had arranged a roommate and, and it being really horrifying and terrifying. So we do try our best to make sure that we're in regular contact with, with all the students, we accept that there are any questions they have about moving, housing. What's it like to be in California? Anything like that is answered. And then we have them come out, um, at least three weeks, um, before classes start and Holly, for all the clinical students, Holly immediately starts a three week orientation program.

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:06:35):

So any medical things, Tetanus shots and all of that are taken care of. Everybody's moved in and settled. Well before classes start, everybody starts to see their practicum sites, meet their supervisors, uh, go through any kinds of additional testing they need. Um, oh, that your dog is super cute. Um, all that kind of stuff. So that they're fairly well settled in and know the area. They've all had a chance to bond. They go out, you know, for a couple of weekends before classes starts, they're all fairly well established and bonded and feel comfortable. Before classes start and they get slammed with all this new stuff. So we do our best to realize they're coming from all over. And even the ones that are coming from the area grad school is a completely different beast. And so we just want to make sure that they feel ready as ready as they can be anyway, before the classes start.

Shauna Costello (01:07:27):

So like you mentioned, Northern California is a wonderful it's proximity to everything. You guys are very close to Sacramento. What types of activities are going on with the, I know that the students are super, super busy, but what are some of the fun stuff that they could potentially be doing?

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:07:44):


Dr. Corey Stocco (01:07:47):

Um, yes.

Shauna Costello (01:07:48):

Oh, you're admitting Corey's is the fun one?

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:07:50):

No, no. He, he lives right near campus.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:07:53):

That's right, Shauna. I am referred to as the fun one. The yes, I live, I live very near to campus about 10 minutes away. Um, Stockton's Stockton has a lot to offer it is it's a diverse place. Um, I don't what students do, I can tell you what I do. Um, but, uh, we have, I guess I have, like, our lab is sometimes gone out and done trivia in town. We do, there's like a trivia group or whatever. Um, there's all kinds of stuff to do in Stockton in terms of, you know, restaurants, there's a good music scene actually in Stockton to some extent because there's a Dave Brubeck, the things jazz musician went to Pacific, uh, in, so we have the Brubeck jazz Institute, music Institute. And um, so there's, there's a lot of really great jazz musicians and just musicians in general that, that play around here. Um, but I, I think, you know, Stockton has a lot of the usual stuff, good coffee shops. There's, there's good places to go to dinner and, um, things like that. And then I think the other unique aspect about this whole area is just, um, well actually there's another thing that's unique.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:09:09):

So Stockton is in the kind of the top of the central Valley of California that runs many, many miles all the way down to Southern California. Um, and it's, it's sort of like one of the big agricultural meccas of, of America. And so one of the things that we really enjoy about it too, is that the farmer's markets here are just incredible. Um, there's a lot of different things at the farmer's markets. Um, and there's always like some, you know, new, season's. Going to be citrus season coming up soon. So, uh, there'll be oranges and things like that. Um, it was most recently

Shauna Costello (01:09:45):

It's always citrus season down here.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:09:49):

It's probably not as exciting when it's all year round, but.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:09:54):

I wait for chocolate croissant season.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:09:55):

That season is also a

Shauna Costello (01:10:02):

We heard about Matt and his pastries just this week alone.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:10:08):

Yeah. That season hasn't ended for him for awhile. Uh, the other things that are nice, I mean, Northern California, um, where we are is, is you can really get to just about anything you want to get to in a day's drive. Uh, so you can get to San Francisco's hour and a half on a good day of traffic, uh, who knows what you're going to get on the way in. But, um, you go to San Francisco, Oakland, so the Bay areas accessible. If you want to go there Sacramento, you know, the nearby big city, uh we're right near wine country, Sonoma, um, the whole coastal area. I mean, going to Monterey all that stuff in California, I'm from Minnesota. So I haven't been here my whole life and I love Minnesota for a lot of reasons, but I really love Northern California. Um, get down to the desert in a day's drive to, and you can go East of here and go into the Sierras and, um, and be in Tahoe or go skiing. Um, we're right near Yosemite is about, I think it's a three and a half hour drive to kind of get to the gate of Yosemite. There's a lot of outdoorsy stuff to do and just neat places small towns to visit. Um, and, and California is a very diverse place too. So I think it's neat that you can go to these different areas and meet people that, um, are, are not necessarily like you or where you came from. So, um, so I think that's a lot of what students do. I have a few students that do a lot of hiking and I always am happy to see that sometimes they do some extreme hiking. I'm happy to see they come back alive. Uh, so there's, there's a lot of neat stuff to do. I think in this area in general and just about anything I could ever imagine wanting to do is, is here. And that's not true in Minnesota. I love Minnesota, but, um, you know, there's no ocean, for example, in Minnesota, uh, there are no mountains. So there's a lot of things like that that I, I really enjoy about living here.

Shauna Costello (01:12:08):

Is there anything else that you can think about that we haven't talked about yet?

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:12:13):

Just like to bring up again, our excellent tuition assistance package of paying, almost nothing to, nothing for tuition and getting a salary stipend for being supervised to do the work that, that ultimately let you sit for the exam.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:12:29):

So let me sum this up. I think it's important. I don't think students understand so you can come to Northern California, which is an idyllic paradise. Not only that you can come to a midsize private university that actually is terribly expensive, but you won't pay for it. You will be paid to come to take behavior analysis classes from a number of different behavior analysts in a behavior analysis focus program. You will be attending classes at this university, which is gorgeous. We are considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. Um, they film movies at our campus, Raider, the Lost Ark, all the scenes where Indiana Jones is teaching, that's at university of Pacific because it looks like an Ivy league East coast university, except no winter. There's no winter, but unlike Florida, it's not humid. And we get seasons. So like I said, right now, all the leaves are changing colors and falling, and it's just gorgeous yet. It's warm during the day. You can come here, you will do research. You will get publications in journals, like the journal of applied behavior analysis. If you want to go onto a doctoral program, you can, if you want to go into practice, you can all of that two years of your life, why wouldn't you come?

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:14:02):

And Matt drives a Tesla, and he has always promised that anyone can ride in that Tesla whenever they want. I offered the Honda fit, but nobody takes me up on that one.

Shauna Costello (01:14:16):

No on takes you up on the Honda fit? It's probably because of how awful your parking spot is.

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:14:28):

No one wants to ride in Honda fit.

Dr. Corey Stocco (01:14:29):

It's all of that. That two minute walk is brutal.

Shauna Costello (01:14:33):

No, and I want to say too that when I did reach out to you guys, that it wasn't just a, you know, I think this is the first time I've had three people in one of these interviews, but I actually, I enjoyed it because our, even our emails back and forth, just seeing your guys' excitement and how much you love your program, you all wanted to be a part of it. So,

Dr. Carolyn Kohn (01:14:57):

I just didn't think one, one of us would do that justice, I think. And I think it's good for students to see it. We really do. We get along very well and we enjoy what we do so,

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:15:07):

And we love behavior analysis. We're all behavior analysis geeks. The license plate of my car says Skinner box.

Shauna Costello (01:15:15):

Oh, you were the lucky one. How did you spell it though?

Dr. Matthew Normand (01:15:19):

Uh, actually this is a cool story. I had to spell it. S K N N R B X, because someone had already taken S K N R B O X. So there's another Skinner box. That's how cool California is.

Shauna Costello (01:15:35):

I can just imagine. I can just imagine. No, that's awesome. That is really great. And I know that you guys all are probably willing to answer any student questions. I know your emails are on the website, but I'll make sure to include them in the description of the podcast, along with the website. Um, but if you guys don't have anything else, I want to thank you for taking some time out of your Friday. I can see, you can see behind me. It's getting dark. I can still see it's very sunny behind you. It was nice and bright when I started. Thank you again for sitting down and talking with me. Thank you for listening to the university series from operant innovations. And as always, if you have suggestions, comments, or feedback, please reach out to us at


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