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Recognized Program Areas Continue to Evolve

The four graduate program areas emerging from the Re-Organization (Behavior Analysis, Child Clinical Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Life Span Developmental Psychology) achieved national prominence in their respective areas of study. Through strategic hiring practices over the past 40 years, West Virginia University has maintained its status as one of the top programs in these areas of scholarship and more broadly as an academic Department of Psychology. A sample of some of these achievements include:
  • Innovation in Graduate Education Award from the American Psychological Association (2006)
  • Outstanding Training Program 2001 (Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy)
  • Ranked #13 in U.S. – Clinical Faculty Member Production (1988-1998) (Ilardi et al., 2000)
  • Ranked #4 in World – Number of Publications in Behavior Analysis and Therapy (1990-1996) (Richards, Cox, & Norton, 1998)
  • Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis Award (2004) – Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis
  • Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award (2011-12) for the top Psi Chi chapter in the World
Successful programs always have an eye on improving, however, even when they have achieved national and international recognition. This was the case for the Department of Psychology in the 1980s and 1990s. A few examples of the endeavors supported by the department include:

Biennial Conferences on Life Span Developmental Psychology
. As one of the nation’s premier graduate training programs in Life Span Developmental Psychology, the Department of Psychology sponsored 11 national conferences of life-span development spanning over 2 decades, with the most recent being the 11th Biennial West Virginia University Conference on Life-Span Development. Experts on the topic of “Stress and coping across the life span” from all over the world were invited and attended the main event, held in Morgantown in March of 1988. Like previous conferences, the 3-day event was packed with scholarly talks and resulted in a published volume entitled Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Perspectives on Stress and Coping, edited by three WVU faculty, Mark Cummings, Anita Greene, and Katherine Karraker.

Dr. McNeil and Danny in the Developmental LabChildren of faculty members are frequent participants in research on infant and child development. Dr. Cheryl McNeil is seen here with her son Danny and graduate student, Catherine Massey, in the Developmental Research Suite in Oglebay Hall in 1998

Applied Behavior Analysis
. The field of Behavior Analysis continued to evolve over the decades and interest in the application of behavior analytic methods to manage real-life human behaviors increased. Acknowledging the growth of Applied Behavior Analysis, the core experimental behavior analysis faculty that had established itself as one of the premier programs in this area of scientific inquiry began to recruit and hire faculty members to accommodate the numbers of graduate students with applied interests. These faculty members conducted research on using behavioral approaches to enhancing human work and/or educational performance or in managing disruptive behaviors of children with autism or other developmental disabilities. National standards for training programs in Applied Behavior Analysis evolved and WVU was among the first doctoral programs to be accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International in 2003. The Department added an undergraduate course sequence in 2013 to prepare promising undergraduates to become Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs).

Human Operant LabBehavior Analysis graduate students Barbara Kaminski and James Joyce with faculty members Michael Perone and Philip Chase in a human learning laboratory in Oglebay Hall in 1988

Clinical Health Psychology
. Division 38 (Society for Health Psychology) of the American Psychological Association was formed in 1978 by several psychologists who were interested in research on behavioral factors and health and the application of psychological science on modifying health behaviors. Because of the strong collaboration between clinical and clinical child faculty in the Department of Psychology and psychologists on the faculty of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at the WVU Medical Center (now Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center), WVU was an obvious site for training students in Clinical Health Psychology. Both the Clinical and Clinical Child program areas developed concentrations in Clinical Health Psychology and students with interests in this area of scholarship completed their dissertations on topics relating to health and launched careers as clinical health psychologists upon graduation. The Department of Psychology at WVU was an inaugural member of the Council of Health Psychology, a group of programs committed to training the next generation of health and clinical health psychologists.

Behavior Physiology LabFaculty member Kevin Larkin reviews a polygraph record with graduate student Risa Thompson (now Richardson) in the Behavior Physiology Laboratory in Oglebay Hall in 1998

In addition to the expansion of the graduate program into new emerging areas of scientific inquiry, faculty in the Department of Psychology received accolades on a regular basis for their achievements in research, teaching, and service to the State of West Virginia and surrounding community.   

Click here for a list of faculty awards

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