University Series 037 | Daemen College

Today we are joined by Kellie Kotwicki, MS, BCBA, LBA & Dr. Vicki Madaus Knapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA of Daemen College. If you have been looking for a program that can tailor to your every need, this is the program for you! With FOUR different options, Daemen College offers every option that a student of applied behavior analysis could need. As you listen you will hear the passion that these faculty members have for their program, colleagues, and students.

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Kellie Kotwicki -

Dr. Vicki Madaus Knapp -

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Programs @ Daemen College -


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 speaking with Daemen College and Kellie Kotwicki and Dr. Vicki Knapp. Dr. Knapp holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Kansas with a specialization in applied behavior analysis. She obtained her Master's degree in clinical behavioral psychology from Eastern Michigan University and her Bachelor's degree in psychology from Western Michigan University. Currently, she's a New York State licensed behavior analyst in a BCBA at the doctoral level. She has been practicing in ABA to help improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including ASD for more than 25 years. Dr. Knapp recently served on the auxiliary panel of the New York State office of professions board for behavioral analysis, and she is currently the secretary and marketing co-chair for NYSABA. She has also participated with association for professional behavior analysts as a conference committee member. She has received the award for excellence in service to NYSABA in 2012, and the NYSABA award for outstanding contributions to the field of behavior analysis in 2014. She has multiple scholarly publications and has provided several invited presentations at regional conferences and events. So without further ado Daemen College. Today we are talking with Vicki Knapp and Kellie Kotwicki and I'm very excited. Thank you both for joining me today.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:01:41):

Thank you.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:01:42):

Thank you for having us.

Shauna Costello (00:01:44):

I'm going to pass it over to Vicki to give a little bit of a general overview of the program.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:01:52):

All right. Thank you. And thank you again for this opportunity. You do great work and we're really happy to be a part of it. So thank you again for reaching out. At Daemen College, we have a variety of programs in behavior analysis that students could take a look at and consider joining. We offer two modalities of our programs. We offer a traditional on campus program and we also offer a fully distance education modality program. And with both of those two different modalities, we offer four different programs within them. So you could take one of four of our programs on campus in Amherst, New York, or you could take one of our four programs online through our distance education modality. As we are in New York State, we hold the highest standards of New York State's education department, office of professions, laws, rules, and regulations for applied behavior analysis, as well as the behavior analyst certification board's guidelines for behavior analysis. Our programs are part of the VCS through the association for behavior analysis, international. Both fourth and fifth edition for our Amhurst program and fifth edition for our distance education program. We're fully registered for all of our programs through the state of New York. So if you're looking for a program in the state of New York, what you do is you can look at the inventory of registered programs in the state of New York, and you'll see Daemen College is on there in our two formats: in-person and distance education. The four program varieties that we have on both of those modalities are in both of those modalities are our master of science in applied behavior analysis and our advanced certificate in applied behavior analysis, our BCBA eligibility course sequence, and our BCBA to New York State license and behavior analysis eligibility course sequence. So those are kind of a mouthful and I can go through and explain what each of those are. Starting with the Master's degree in applied behavior analysis. We offer this graduate level degree Master of science in ABA, for those who have a Bachelor's degree in a related field. They may be interested in working in behavior analysis in some way, shape or form. And they come to us for their Master's degree. In our advanced certificate, you have to already have a Master's degree and that has to also be in a related field. We do evaluate that and use a little discretion and looking at what is qualifying or that related field. But the advanced certificate is something that you would look at if you already have your Master's degree. If you already have your graduate degree. It is a postgraduate certificate. Really the only difference between those two programs is one course. So our Master's degree program, you have to take a final course. It's our ABA 740 course. It's a capstone research project in behavior analysis. The advanced certificate students don't have to do that. It's just the one, three credit course difference. And what we find is that some of the students who come to us for the advanced certificate, see that it's just one more class. And if they want to add another degree and a few more letters to their name, potentially, that's something that they will switch over to. So we do have that flexibility to move back and forth. While I'm talking about moving back and forth, we also have a little flexibility of moving back and forth in terms of modality. So if a student comes to us in Amherst, New York, what they can do is augment their learning experience with a couple of online courses. So if, for example, a student is taking their course sequence or following their course plan, but they see they don't want to take a summer class. Maybe they can take that class that would be offered in the summer in person. They could take that online at a different time, so they could have a little more free time embedded into their schedule. The two other programs are a degree in advanced certificate program. The two other programs we have are unique in that students who come to us for these programs are not really considered students. They're non-matriculated, so they're not technically students in the college, but they're students of ours. So I'll refer to them as students. So students who come to us for our BCBA or board certified behavior analyst, registered trademark eligibility course sequence, they come to us for just seven courses. So they're not taking a degree or certificate program. They're just taking a few courses from us so that they can become eligible with the educational requirements to be eligible to take the BCBA exam. I want to be really careful with the language. I'm very careful with the terms of use page on the BACB website. So those individuals come to us and they take seven courses and they can obtain their transcript and use that with their Master's degree and apply to take the BCBA exam, and then get their BCBA and do what they need to do. Our newest pathway is what we call the board certified behavior analyst (registered trademark) to New York State LBA eligibility course sequence. So what we're finding is with the New York State regulations, which I'm sure we can talk about a little bit later. What all that means is that if someone with a BCBA moves to New York State and learns there are other requirements to become licensed, or perhaps they've been here and didn't move through some of those pathways that were available a few years ago. Now those pathways are shut down through New York State. They can come to us and we can help them. What students need to do, who are interested in this BCBA to LBA pathway is obtain a letter from New York State. A comparative education review. To do that, what you have to do is apply for the LBA, knowing perhaps most likely you're not going to be accepted and allowed to take the exam, but that's going to generate a letter, the comparative education review. Where then New York State itemizes and tells the individual exactly what they need to do. What courses they need to take, what experience they might need. If they bring that letter to us, we can help them. This is our newest approved program where we can help them by providing the educational experience that New York State finds "quote, unquote" deficient. It's hard, because some of the students who come to us with their comparative educational review have gone to really great colleges and universities in behavior analysis, but New York State didn't count their hours in assessment, or sometimes ethics. Maybe if they had an ethics course that was in the third edition of the task list or something. There's so many idiosyncrasies here in New York. Sometimes it requires either taking new coursework, which you might expect, but sometimes they don't expect that. They might have to retake a course that they had before to become eligible for the New York State license.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:10:21):

Same with the field work hours. Sometimes New York State will not accept their 1500 field work hours that were accumulated elsewhere because they did not meet the requirements for field work per New York State licensing law for behavior analysis. So that's another thing they come to us for. And we can talk about that a little bit more in detail.

Shauna Costello (00:10:38):

It's so exciting just to hear all of the different types of programs. I think you did a really good job explaining the differences between those four different options that you have.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:10:51):

Thank you.

Shauna Costello (00:10:51):

It makes it so much easier for potential students to come to Daemen and be like "I guess maybe they don't have what I need, but I don't think they can say that".

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:11:07):

We try to help.

Shauna Costello (00:11:07):

You've laid it all out perfectly. Speaking of the faculty. Who do you have and even potentially, what are they researching as well?

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:11:23):

I have to say that I couldn't be more proud of the faculty group that has been assembled here. We're just all very interested in different things. We have different backgrounds, but we compliment each other, I think really very well. We're all, if I don't say so myself, very well-trained in behavior analysis. While most of us have practiced or continue to practice in New York and other States, we don't have experience in just working with individuals with ASD. So we come in with this broad variety of background and broad variety of interests that only serve to enhance our courses and enhance our student experiences and our student research opportunities. I just wanted to preface that by saying, I just couldn't be more thrilled to be able to work with this group of who happened to be all women. I'm not sure who to start with, but I'll start with Vanessa Patrone, who is the person who helped start this entire program with me. It's been Vicki and Vanessa working together for a long time now. The Vicki and Vanessa show. We sometimes refer to it as, and the Jazz hands have to go with it. Vanessa is a well-trained behavior analyst who received her Master's degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and concentrated in applied behavior analysis while she was there. And while she was there, she had the opportunity to work at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, and work with individuals with severe behavior challenges. And worked also as a behavior analyst at a large agency here in Western New York, and started teaching a little here at Daemen College before this program existed. And as I was working on developing this program, pulled her in and we worked together to develop these opportunities for students. The opportunities to hire new faculty, the opportunities to pursue research and develop our center for behavior analysis. So Vanessa's my person and can't say enough about her. She specializes in helping people who have severe challenging behavior, helping people to be more functional and independent in whatever setting that they happen to be in. And she's also very interested in the cultural aspects of behavior analysis and working on diversity, equity and inclusion. One of the things New York State did that may be, and actually a really good thing is, New York State for the license and behavior analysis requires a course on cultural and ethnic diversity. Vanessa took the lead on developing that course and has also taken the lead and connecting with other people interested in that area on the national level and has done presentations at ABA and NYSABA. Vanessa is a board member of the New York State association for applied behavior analysis, NYSABA. And she is working on finishing her PhD in curriculum instruction and the science of learning at the University of Buffalo. So I'll move on to Michelle Hickman. Michelle has over 20 years of experience in the field of applied behavior analysis and she received her PhD from the Ohio State University. She has a background in special education curriculum, instructional design, which is really great and really interesting because our program, our faculty seem to be a little bit split. Some of us have that psychology background and some of us have that special education background going back to that whole synergy of our faculty here. Michelle, her research interests include programming for generalized learning and individuals with developmental disabilities and in training special education teachers to use evidence-based practice. She has been with us for, I think since about 2018. She was teaching courses as an adjunct a little bit before that, but has really taken over our VCS coordination. She helps us look at our own curriculum with her area of specialty. She's really helped us develop as a department. Another faculty member. I'll tell you about Ashley Breen. Ashley comes to us from another large agency here in Western New York. She's worked for a couple of different agencies in Western New York. I had the opportunity to work closely with her and provide some of her BCBA supervision back in the day. She has a Master's in special education from Canisius College and she has worked as a behavior analyst, implementing behavioral services for people with ASD and other developmental disabilities. And she has also worked as a clinical supervisor. Has provided insurance-based services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Her interests in research are in the area of early intervention for children with developmental disabilities and ASD and increasing functional communication skills in individuals with disabilities. She is a part of APBA, a part of NYSABA. She frequently attends conferences and connects with other people to further her research interests and develop further opportunities for our students. She's a wonderful part of our team. Last that I'm going to talk about, but not least, is Debbie Napolitano. Debbie Napolitano also joined us in 2018 after teaching with us as an adjunct instructor for a couple of years. Debbie was formerly at the Hillside family of agencies. Before that she was with the University of Rochester, school of medicine, where she still retains a courtesy clinical associate professor appointment there. Currently, she has a consultation or consultative relationship with the Golisano Institute for developmental disabilities and nursing. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas. That's where Debbie and I met back in the day. We've known each other for years. Debbie has widely published in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavior analysis. Debbie is somebody who works within behavior analysis, but also pushes into developing interprofessional relationships with other fields. So she works very closely with nurse practitioners. She works very closely with social workers. She has worked in the area of child welfare, helping individuals who happen to have autism or an intellectual or developmental disability within the foster care system. So she looks across the different systems where individuals who require or could benefit from behavior analytic services, tries to pull those systems together. She is also on the board of NYSABA, the New York state association for behavior analysis. In addition to that, she is the secretary for the severe challenging behavior, special interest group of the international association on the scientific study of intellectual disabilities. And previously served as a board member of the association for professional behavior analysts. Let me see. I think there's another thing here. She serves on the leadership council for the national council for severe autism. She's also on the board of directors for the behavior analyst leadership council. She does great work, like I said before, pulling resources together, pulling people together, connecting people, pulling systems together, finding individuals who are vulnerable, who could benefit from behavior analytic services and then pulling the systems, educating the systems, just amazing work. I feel very fortunate to have known her for so many years.

Shauna Costello (00:21:09):

Yeah. And that's definitely not something that's easy.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:21:12):

No. Not at all. We can talk about this a little bit later, but as Debbie is on the board for NYSABA, she serves as the legislative chair person. So she is really leading the charge for the legislative effort on behalf of all behavior analysts in New York State to remove the restriction on our scope of practice.

Shauna Costello (00:21:38):

That's very exciting.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:21:40):

Yeah. Kellie, I didn't pull you up. Do you want to give a quick on you? Okay.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:21:45):

I'm Kellie Kotwicki. I'm one of the full-time faculty here at Daemen College in the ABA department. I'm also the practicum director for the ABA department. My main job, in addition to teaching, is I facilitate all of the practicum placements for our students in our Master's and advanced certificate programs. In addition to the non-matriculated students who do the BCBA to LBA program, that Dr. Vicki Knapp had talked about a little earlier. I've been working in the field for about 10 years, and I've been a behavior analyst for a little over five years. Maybe a little longer. I come to behavior analysis in the insurance world. I am licensed in New York State and in the State of Arizona. And I've been providing services in Arizona for many years, and I have special interest in the area of doing tele-health. I used to live in Arizona and practice in Arizona, but have since moved, but was able to be fortunate enough, even before the pandemic, to start that whole transition into the tele-health world and provide services for individuals living in rural areas who otherwise would have been sitting on wait lists. It's a huge passion of mine. Something I really enjoy doing. Some of my areas of interest are severe problem behavior to teaching adaptive skills, verbal behavior. And I also have a unique interest, lately, in quality supervision and behavior analysis. That's been one of my latest and greatest areas of research and looking into more. So that's me in a nutshell. I also had the fortunate opportunity just a few months ago at Daemen. We were able to bring on a part-time faculty member. Her name is Jill Aldrich and Jill's wonderful. She has many years of experience in the area of behavior analysis. She has many years, specifically with an expertise in intensive behavioral treatment for young children. More currently, she works in a large agency out of Rochester, New York, and it's a family of agencies. So she works with many different individuals, but many of those who have autism spectrum disorder, related disorder, intellectual developmental disabilities. And she helps me with our practicum program and our practicum placements. And she also teaches in our practicum courses. It's a very large program and, I have found pretty quickly, that I couldn't take it on all on my own. So Jill has come on and really just stepped right into her role in helping me facilitate those relationships with the many agencies that we work with all over New York State, outside of New York state and even across different countries. So it's really neat

Shauna Costello (00:24:30):

From my perspective, it is definitely a stacked line-up here. I'm really excited to get into more of the nitty gritty details of the program as well, because from talking to you two before we started recording, I know that there's a lot going on. A lot of things that the faculty are making sure that the students get to experience. Along with just working with them. There's a plethora of other things that all of the faculty members are working on. That kind of brings us to we've talked about the faculty, the research, a general overview. What about the student experience and the practicum opportunities? I know that the classes might differ between the four different programs or tracks that they can be going through. What can they expect from class loads, practicum opportunities? I know that New York is different with practicum opportunities. That's something we can jump into as well, but what can they expect from being a student? All of the faculty members?

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:25:51):

The students in our ABA programs here at Daemen college, it really differs pretty clearly because of the different modalities that we offer. So individuals who attend Amherst, New York main campus program, they come to us and they typically take what I refer to casually, as core courses in behavior analysis and a practicum with that. So they usually take a total of three courses per semester, and here might be a good point to clarify. In our main campus program in Amhurst we run on traditional 15 week semesters and we have three semesters a year. Fall, spring and summer in our Amhurst program. In our distance education program, we have five different semesters a year and we run eight week semesters. Our distance education program runs at a much faster pace, but our students are very successful with that. Similarly, often in our distance education programs, our students will take one or two, again casually, what I refer to as core courses in behavior analysis in addition to a practicum course to go along with that. So our traditional program runs at that more traditional pace where it takes a full two years off fall, spring, summer, fall, spring, and sometimes summer, unless you augment and take an online class during your time with us. Our distance education program students, if they're taking the two core courses at a time, plus the practicum can go quite fast. It takes about 18 months for our Master's degree program. Sometimes, that fast pace, it's not for everybody. We have more and more students who will choose to take one course plus the practicum at a time. That's where the ABA academic advisor comes in. And we talk about work-life balance, self-care, the importance of behavior analysis and doing your best. Balancing everybody's roles and the importance of our coursework. There's really important things to learn about behavior analysis. That's just one part. The educational experience is definitely augmented and improved by the experience component. The supervised experience component, and then back and forth. Really working with our students to learn. To make sure that they get the best experience possible.

Shauna Costello (00:29:06):

And that's really exciting to hear the differences and that even within, you already have the potential, your students already have an option to jump in between these different types of programs, but also within those programs, they can really individualize it to their needs as well. So that's really exciting to hear.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:29:25):

Yeah. I was just going to add to that. I feel like we're a very accommodating program, right? In addition to individualizing, and as I said, the Amhurst campus program runs on the traditional academic schedule academic year. It's interesting to note that our distance education program follows, as I said, the fast pace, but it begins after the high holidays on the Jewish liturgical calendar. So our fall starts after the high holidays. We do follow the Jewish liturgical calendar and the traditional American holidays with our distance education program. That's, I think, a really unique aspect that can be beneficial for people of any culture.

Shauna Costello (00:30:31):

Yeah. I can't say that I've heard anything, specifically like that, with a lot of other programs.That's something to take into consideration. Definitely.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:30:42):

Yeah. We have students from all over and all different cultural backgrounds taking our distance education courses. It's worked out really, really well.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:30:53):

One of the things that individuals will ask me if I conduct an interview. They'll say, "Well, what's the difference? What is the main difference between the distance education calendar and the main Amhurst campus calendar?" and really, Dr. Knapp can add to this, but I would say the biggest difference is the start date of the fall semester. So the Amhurst campus will start typically in August for on-campus in-person classes, and our distance education typically doesn't start until mid October, just depending on when the holidays fall.

Shauna Costello (00:31:26):

To add on top of that, Kellie, I think this is where you or your expertise comes in. What about those practicum courses? So we heard that they take them, but what does that consist of?

Kellie Kotwicki (00:31:39):

Yeah. I'd be happy to talk about practicum. So practicum is really unique and specific to the New York State licensure. So earlier we had talked about having four different tracks that students can go through while in our program. Two of the tracks, which is the Master's degree and the advanced certificate degree. Students are required to have a practicum experience as part of those degrees. Now, the third track, which is the BCBA to LBA track, it may be required depending on the comparative review from New York State. If the state rejects their hours or if they did not have a New York State approved practicum course. After a certain date, they would be required to join the practicum course. And then the fourth track, which is the BCBA only, they do not participate in my practicum course because my practicum course is specific to the New York State licensure and not necessarily the field work for the BACB. However, we do look at that as being a golden standard and incorporate that into the class, but that's typically done separate and independent from the college. Their hours. I like to talk about, I guess I should say, the practicum as being two different buckets. So we talk about these two buckets. So we have New York State in one bucket, and then we have the BACB in another bucket. Now when done carefully, students can pour the buckets out and hour for hour, they can accrue their hours and meet the requirements, set forth by the BACB and set forth by New York State, as long as they understand both requirements and are doing their documentation separately because the BACB runs on a monthly system, right? And then New York State actually runs on a weekly system and the BACB has different ratios in terms of what they expect from supervision time and they have different requirements. So for example, and we can talk about this again later, but currently in the state of New York, there is a scope of practice on our license, which restricts us to only working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder or related disorder with a prescription for ABA services. So any student who comes through our Master's or advanced certificate program and potentially the BCBA to LBA program must accrue 1500 field work hours in that one bucket for New York State and all consumers must have a diagnosis that meets that criteria and a prescription for ABA services. And there are no exceptions while you are accruing your 1500 hours in that capacity. So what they do with me, is New York State regulation states that students must accrue a minimum of 150 of those 1500 hours while enrolled in a practicum course as offered by a program like our. A New York State registered program. All students have to take ABA 730, all students in those programs I discussed, and they have to accrue a minimum of 150 hours, meeting all of the regulatory requirements set forth by NYSED, the New York State education department. And I help oversee that and ensure that they are compliant with those requirements. Students, after they've completed the minimum of 150 hours, they can then go on and take an optional one credit hour, continuing practicum course. And what that does is while students are in our program, if they take the first practicum course and they accrue their minimum 150 hours within 15 weeks, they as still protected under the umbrella of the practicum program and can continue accruing their fieldwork hours in this continuous practicum course. Now each practicum course has their own unique and individual learning objectives that are specific to learning about the New York State licensing laws and practice and ethical behavior and professional behavior, obtaining quality supervision and all sorts of other areas as well. I say these things like I could say in my sleep. I can literally cite New York State law in my sleep.

Shauna Costello (00:35:47):

So you're getting your law degree too then, correct? With all your free time.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:35:53):

Yes. Because of the uniqueness of the New York State licensing laws, we have consulted through the modality of using NYSABA, and reaching out to NYSABA, which is our local professional organization, have consulted with attorneys just to ensure that we are compliant on these things because sometimes they read and there are subject to interpretation. And so we want to make sure that we are adhering to best practices, of course, and that our students are going to get quality experiences and their hours are ultimately going to count.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:36:24):

Definitely. And just to piggyback on that, Kellie, while we are under a restriction of our scope of practice here in New York State, our practicum very specifically, those hours have to be done with people with autism spectrum disorder or related disorders, which is defined as blah, blah... The DSM40 are pervasive developmental disorders. All of our syllabi were approved by New York State and our syllabi contain a statement that very specifically states that, and I'm paraphrasing here, that we understand that individuals with a license and behavior analysis in New York State may only practice with individuals with autism spectrum disorders as defined by blah blah blah.. "Cite the reg." It is important for us as faculty and behavior analysts to ensure that our students know the full breadth of the science of behavior analysis and its applications to humans, non-humans. We're very passionate about that. So by coming to Daemen College in whatever state you're in, even though we're a New York State approved program, and you will learn about autism as you probably would in any other program, you will also learn about the application of the science of behavior analysis in other ways too. We feel very strongly about that.

Shauna Costello (00:38:05):

Well, and I love that you can just tell how much passion that both of you have. I mean, and I can assume from talking with you two, about the rest of the faculty, that specifically you two have, because Kellie, like you said, "I can quote New York State law. I can quote this". You make sure that your students are knowledgeable and getting the experience that they need. Not only the experience that's required, but also experience that they need and are meeting all of those requirements and those standards for not only the BACB certification, but also the New York State licensure requirements as well. Because I have been learning over the last couple months. 2021 Has been my year to learn about New York State licensure. It's what it has turned out, because I've talked to so many schools that are in the state of New York. So that's really exciting. What are some of the practicum sites, specifically, that some of your students can get some of those contacts with? We know that they have that ASD specific diagnosis, but is it all clinics? Are there some schools? What do some of those locations look like?

Kellie Kotwicki (00:39:30):

Yeah. So that's a really good question. So I'm going to start off by saying it ebbs and flows every semester. So we make new relationships all the time. So we'll get a new student who says I'm working at X agency and then I can reach out and develop a relationship with the new agency. So I would say a good majority of our relationships are built through students, which is really neat. And I love that. I love when students bring us new relationships, but currently we work with about a little over 45 agencies throughout New York state and actually throughout the country, because I have placements out of state and I have placements out of the country. So that's really unique. Yeah. Yeah. We can talk about that a little bit, but they are a wide variety of experiences. So obviously I think with any good supervision program, students will get a wide variety of experience, whether it be working in a school clinic, insurance based. So we have relationships with all of the above that I just spoke about. Early intervention agencies, clinic-based school-based, insurance-based. We work with all kinds. We work throughout all of the state, as I've mentioned, I don't think there's a part of New York State that we haven't had students really in yet. Maybe some more rural areas, but in general, we have relationships built all over, which is really neat. Part of accruing hours for the New York State licensure, in addition to some of the things we already spoke about, does require that an individual have a supervisor who's licensed in a profession and has the scope of practice within that license. So in the state of New York, that typically ends up being either a licensed behavior analyst. A New York State licensed behavior analyst. Or a licensed psychologist. A New York State licensed psychologist who has behavior analysis within their scope of practice. If you live outside of the state of New York and you want to come to a program like ours. Maybe you're from New York or you eventually want to move to New York, or you're temporarily living somewhere else and want to eventually come back to New York. We actually get that quite frequently. So maybe we have a student living in Michigan. If a student lives in Michigan and wants to come through our Master's program, our advanced certificate program, or our BCBA to LBA program. To be eligible for the New York State licensure. What they would need is a Michigan licensed behavior analyst or another Michigan licensed professional with behavior analysis within that scope of practice. So where it gets tricky is in states that do not license their behavioral analysts, because then we have to look elsewhere. So is there maybe a licensed social worker who has behavior analysis within their scope of practice and practices in that capacity? Is there a licensed psychologist meeting the same requirements? So that's one of the big caveats of living out of the state trying to accrue their field work hours for the LBA. So I have a lot of students who maybe live in New Jersey. New Jersey has recently passed a licensing law, but the regulations have not been promulgated yet. So there's not actually a New Jersey licensed behavior analyst. So a lot of those students will commute to New York for their hours with the hopes of being licensed in both eventually. So they could practice across States and that's really common. And when people live on the border of a state, oftentimes they like to be licensed in both. I work with one agency that their behavior analysts are licensed in, I believe it's Connecticut, New York and in another state. They're all really close to each other. So really unique. I love all the agencies we work with. I've come across so many awesome behavior analysts who have different areas of expertise and research interests, and I get to connect with them, which is really cool. I feel really fortunate to be in that capacity.

Shauna Costello (00:43:12):

Well, and it's really exciting just because the experience requirements for the state of New York are very specific. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to miss out on any type of experience. So that's one thing that is nice to hear that, "No. Okay. We may be restricted in our scope of practice, but that doesn't mean we're fully restricted to not being able to do anything."

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:43:41):

Right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. We talk about a lot of different things in our courses and we try to make sure that while our scope is restricted here, we don't restrict our students' educational experience.

Shauna Costello (00:44:02):

It's very easy to see that. So that's very nice to see. One thing I was just looking up because like I said, I was like, "Oh, you know what?" I talked to all these schools in New York state this year. The only thing I wanted to look up was for one of the options is to be on campus and with the faculty in person and I was like, "I have to look to see where Daemen is really quick." And so that was one thing that maybe you can describe as well, because I don't think you're near any of the other schools we've talked to yet.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:44:45):

Yeah. I think we're one of the only, if the only school over here in this far Western New York and there is one other school kind of in our region. And then the other closest is Rochester. We are outside of Buffalo, New York, which is a really great city. It's a mid-sized city that has experienced some revitalization. And I don't know, maybe some would argue with me that it didn't need a revitalization. I don't know, but there's really great things going on in Buffalo. There's so much to do here. One of the things that I've looked for in my career of moving around the country to pursue my education and other opportunities is I'm a Midwestern girl at heart and I've grown up in small-ish cities. Some bigger than others where I can go in one direction and be downtown in a theater district and different shopping experiences and cultural experiences. And then I can go the other way, 20 minutes and be in the middle of nowhere, which I love. I love, really, the diversity of this area. I'm a great lakes girl originally from Michigan, Wisconsin. Another thing that's really great about the Buffalo area is that we are an hour and a half, two hours from Toronto, which is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world. And one of the greatest, I think. New York City isn't that far. We're pretty well connected in this area and we're close to things. Everything that we need, but not too close to those really, really bigger cities. So if you want something kind of in between, Buffalo's really the place to be. It's been a great experience for my family being here and our students, I think, really enjoy it. There's just more and more opportunities developing here. I must say that Western New York tends to be a little step behind downstate. So some of the things and the jobs and the booming market for behavior analysts that's happening now in New York state is starting to happen and will continue to happen here. Right? So Western New York might be a step behind, but still really a great place to be.

Shauna Costello (00:47:27):

Well, that was one of the funny things that when I was talking to some of the other schools in the state that I was like, "I've been to New York, but I haven't been to New York, New York." I've been to New York City and I went for a wedding and this was years ago, but I was like, "Oh, checking another state off my list." And when I got there, because we actually ended up driving through Canada on the way there, and then on the way back, we went through Ohio and things like that. But when I got there, I was like, "Oh, wait. This looks just like Michigan."

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:48:06):

It does. It's a little flat in Western New York compared to Michigan. We do have a couple of hills here, but yeah. It's a beautiful area. The lakes are gorgeous and there's a lot for students to do here. There's a lot of opportunities with agencies, large and small, insurance-based services for people with autism, working with local school districts who are interested in behavior analytic services. And this kind of brings me to our Daemen College center for behavior analysis that we started over a year ago as a mechanism for us to be able to, as faculty also provide some services and continue with our skills, but also to provide students with more opportunities in the area to gather experience perhaps under our supervision as faculty. If that's something we can arrange. So we have contracts with, as I said, local school districts, local agencies. Not yet individual. So we're not practicing on the individual basis, but we collaborate also with other programs. So for example, at Daemen College, there is a program called CAUSE. The center for allied and unified sport and exercise where I'm on the advisory board there. It is a way to provide sport socialization and exercise and help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities autism. Or not. Some do, some don't. Just to help them connect with peers, same age peers, and just engage and have different opportunities, which has been really beneficial for the same age peers who happen to also be college students, but also the people who attend the program. So there's a lot of opportunities for students in behavior analysis. It's a huge interest of mine and increasing functional physical activity levels in people who could benefit from more. All people, but specifically individuals with autism as a student may need their experience in that area.

Shauna Costello (00:50:40):

It's really exciting, because this is a program that you're seeing more and more and more pop up now as I'm talking to universities. Unlike when we're working with insurance cases and things like that. Just because they age out doesn't mean that the help needed decreases. So that's a really exciting program to hear about because not a lot of students get to work with these older populations of clients. So that's really exciting.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:51:19):

Thanks. Yeah. It's really fun to develop opportunities for students. Another thing that we're very passionate about, as I think you can probably tell, is the legislative effort in New York State. So three of our six full-time faculty are board members with the New York State association for behavior analysis. I should know that. Two of us. Debbie and I are both past presidents and have served in all kinds of roles with NYSABA. I think I was president, she was president elect when the licensure in New York State went into effect. We've been here. We've been through this entire process. Currently, I serve as the secretary and marketing co-chair of NYSABA. Debbie, as the legislative chairperson and Vanessa as the representative at large and marketing co-chair person. So in the legislative area currently under Debbie's leadership and the great team that she's been working with. Maureen, Elizabeth, so many others currently as of early 2021. We have two bills up in the New York state legislature. It's S1662 and A3523. And if you go to, you can find out more information about the legislative effort in New York. The primary legislative effort right now is to remove the restriction on our scope of practice. And after that happens, we're confident that this will happen. We need everybody's help though. Anybody in New York needs to be active. If you're not a member of NYSABA, please become a member of NYSABA. Becoming a member of NYSABA helps this legislative effort. What if you already work with people with autism and you don't care about the scope restriction? Well, the scope restriction being removed will help us then to address some of the regulations that need to be improved. There are some things in our laws, rules, and regulations that are there, and perhaps maybe need some clarification or perhaps something is written in a practice guideline or the FAQ's, but isn't in the regulations. So we need some clarification on this law and being a part of our legislative efforts, supporting that, pushing that forward is only going to be able to help us really resolve a whole bunch of things that we think need to be addressed in New York.

Shauna Costello (00:54:13):

The way you phrased it too, is if you don't care about the scope, not that you don't care, but you're good with that scope of practice. There are other things you can do. And one thing that is coming up more and more and more is we're not only focusing on ourselves and what our scope of practices, but we're acknowledging that the science of behavior is applicable outside of just autism. And if we had been talking about before this started, was that having that limited scope could actually drive behavior analysts out of the state because they can't do anything and that might limit their practice in other realms as well.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:55:04):


Shauna Costello (00:55:04):

So to add that to it, it's a very good thing to get involved in. And one question I kind of have too is because you have so many faculty members involved. Is that something that you talk to your students about and you try to get them involved with? Is that another experience that they can get?

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:55:23):

Absolutely. Because NYSABA is so near and dear to our hearts here at Daemen College and the science of behavior in general and connecting and being ethical professionals. We pull our students in. Like it or not. They do have opportunities. We don't make them. They have opportunities to participate with NYSABA. We make sure that they understand that NYSABA is a thing and that it is to their benefit and honestly their responsibility to be informed and participate with their local state regional behavior analysis association. So we do have some opportunities to bring students with us to conferences under typical situations. When we do have in person conferences. I know so much has been virtual lately. But we also encourage our students to present at conferences and we help them to take that pathway of pursuing their research in our capstone course, then taking and disseminating that research to NYSABA, other national international conferences in behavior analysis and otherwise. We have one presentation that is a collaboration with our faculty and a now former student and alumnus. They will be presenting at the council for exceptional children in March. So that's really exciting too. And then taking it a step further, we're working on publications with some of our students. And again, just to help disseminate the science of behavior and its application into these different areas where our students have interests.

Shauna Costello (00:57:16):

To add to that, if students are interested in getting involved in all of this, what does that application and or interview process look like?

Kellie Kotwicki (00:57:33):

Yeah. So I can speak to that a little bit. So we do currently have an application process, which would require official transcripts, two letters of recommendation. Preferably professional, not personal. Or academic.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (00:57:48):

So we look at their degrees.

Kellie Kotwicki (00:57:50):

As long as you have a required, related degree, admissions will prescreen through those. They would then be assigned to one of the six or five full-time faculty members to conduct an interview. Some of our processes, our interview process and intake processes are going to be changing coming up because we are constantly... we're a group of behavior analysts. We're constantly looking at data and looking to improve our processes and what's working and what's not working. So some of those systems I just talked about will actually be changing. But as of right now, that is, we do conduct a formal interview with each applicant as it stands currently.

Shauna Costello (00:58:29):

That's good to know, because I know that with COVID and with everything going on, sometimes that had changed. So it's good to hear what the specifics are for Daemen and what you're doing. And yes, just a heads up, keep looking out for those changes as they occur. We can't all foresee exactly what those are going to be always, but I know that Kellie and Vicki have some ideas. And I know that we've covered a lot so far. We have the general overview, the faculty, research, practicum, other types of experiences, the student experience with the coursework on the location, the application interview process. Is there anything else that either one of you want to make sure to talk about?

Kellie Kotwicki (00:59:27):

I think one of the really important things that I would like to bring to anyone's attention that is interested in Daemen College is we are a smaller college. And with that comes a way more personalized experience. So as a student in Daemen, each person is assigned an academic advisor. That academic advisor is a behavior analyst and a faculty member in our program. So, we really work to build relationships with our students. Being the practicum director, I build a relationship with every single student who comes through the program, whether it be the advanced certificate, the Master's, et cetera, because I always talk about placements and the practicum experience and New York State licensing law. One thing that I really love is that even our alumni reach out to us and contact us and say, "Hey, guess what? I pass my exam," or "I'm practicing here now," or that. And we love that. So during the time of COVID, we haven't really been conferencing, but it is my hope in the future. And I look forward to the day that I get a tap on the shoulder and somebody says, "Professor Kotwicki, this is so-and-so", and they introduced themselves to me. So in the online learning environment, I don't always get to meet my students in person, but I feel like they are all my children. I love them all. So I really look forward to seeing their journey and meeting them all in person. So if you're listening to this, please stop by and say hi.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (01:00:50):

Please do. Yeah. Yeah. I think to Kellie's amazing points, we are a smaller school. We do have robust numbers in our program, which is wonderful, but we're able to maintain that personal feel with our students. So while we do have the distance education modality opportunity, it's a more personalized approach with that. So we do have some recorded content, but you have a lot of interaction with your faculty who are true behavior analysts, well-trained behavior analysts, and who are interested in giving students the best education in behavior behavior analysis possible. One of my personal favorite things to do is connect our students to other professionals in the field. And I feel very fortunate to be able to connect them directly to my unbelievably well connected colleagues like Kelly and everybody. But also having attended the different universities that we have with the different backgrounds that we all have, chances are, if we can't answer a question from a student, we know the author of that article and can put you in touch with and can help you to get more experience. So that's another really exciting thing is that we're able to work on collaborations on behalf of our students that can further their education with other research labs, which has been really fun.

Shauna Costello (01:02:30):

It's been so good to learn more about the program, and I know, Vicki, you and I met before virtually to kind of just talk about this, so you could see what you're getting yourself into, and I told you that I'm trying really hard not to ask more questions, because one of my biggest joys about the podcast is and interviewing is really learning about the programs because I learned so much and that's my goal for this program. The one thing I always make sure to ask is that if anybody is interested in reaching out, are both of you willing to have your contact information on the podcast description?

Dr. Vicki Knapp (01:03:12):

Of course.

Kellie Kotwicki (01:03:12):

Absolutely. Especially practicum related questions or students interested in the New York State LBA. That's what I'm here for. I love to help anybody with their journey.

Shauna Costello (01:03:24):


Dr. Vicki Knapp (01:03:25):


Speaker 3 (01:03:28):

That will be underneath the podcast description with links also to the website as well.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (01:03:35):

Very good. And I think, as people are interested in getting in touch and looking at Daemen College. Daemen's not the easiest word to spell. So it is is the end of our email. Maybe copy and paste it if you're interested.

Shauna Costello (01:03:56):

Thank you all so much for sitting here with me and talking with me and teaching me more about the program and what there is, because I learn something new every time that I sit down with new faculty members that I haven't met before. So thank you both so much.

Dr. Vicki Knapp (01:04:16):

Thank you for the opportunity again. I mean, to be able to be a part of this great effort of yours and the amazing work you do. We really feel fortunate to be a part of that. So thank you and thank you for making the process so comfortable and easy.

Kellie Kotwicki (01:04:35):

You make it fun. Thank you. That's really neat.

Shauna Costello (01:04:40):

Thank you for listening to this episode of the University Series. And as always, if you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at operantinnovations


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