New behaviorism class offered at PRCC

A new class, Applied Behavior Analysis, recently launched at Pearl River Community College’s Forrest County Center.  

The course is the first of three steps towards a Registered Behavior Technician Certification and is geared specifically for training teachers the basics of behavior analysis and how to use it with children on the Autism Spectrum.

Twenty-six students are enrolled in the mostly-online class, which began in the 2020 spring semester. Many of them are teachers or teacher assistants, some are parents of children with Autism.

“The course is a great opportunity because the profession is so new and underserved in this area,” said Dr. Dannell Roberts, the class instructor.

“Most teachers aren’t given specific training in behaviorism or Autism Spectrum Disorder within their undergraduate degrees and will hopefully be able to use this knowledge to better serve the children in their classrooms.”

The course is a three-step process: The coursework, a competency assessment and a national exam given by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.

Dr. Roberts, a former Psychology instructor at PRCC, offered this course description:

The course provides a basic introduction to the principles of applied behavior analysis with specific emphasis on applying the principals to teaching individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

She says the purpose of the course is to provide the necessary and required training to become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). The coursework is considered the basic information a person needs to work in the field with supervision. 

“As an employer who hires RBTs (who are hard to find), this course will provide a portion of the necessary steps for that certification and grow the profession as a viable career choice for individuals wanting to work with children with special needs.”

Dr. Roberts worked for PRCC from 2006-2013, beginning as an academic counselor and transitioning to a Psychology Instructor in 2009. In 2012, she transitioned to the Forrest County Center on a part-time basis while building a private practice. She currently co-owns Will’s Way, LLC, with Dr. Kimberly Bellipanni, providing psychological services, school consultation, and ABA therapy for children on the Autism Spectrum. 

Dr. Jana Causey, Vice President for the Forrest County Center, Allied Health and Nursing programs, says PRCC is committed to serving local community needs.

“Our local school districts need individuals with this knowledge to provide an educational environment that meets the needs of a variety of learners, including those on the Autism Spectrum. This semester, we offered this class tuition free to educators employed in our district.

“Our hope is that the students in this class will gain important skills and knowledge to assess the needs of students and make diverse learning environments that meet their needs.”

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