Anna “Katey” Schmidt
M.A., Human Development
As a student nearing completion of a Ph.D. in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science, I have had the good fortune to interact with many of the research faculty at the KU Life Span Institute. I began my studies with Dr. Debra Kamps and Dr. Charles Greenwood at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project.
While there, I was a Graduate Research Assistant with The Center for Early Intervention for Reading and Behavior and completed my master’s thesis, The Effects of a Class-Wide Intervention on Group and Individual Behavior in an Urban First-Grade Classroom. Lengthy title aside, this was an interesting project that provided some of the pilot data for Dr. Kamps, Dr. Howard Wills, and Dr. Greenwood’s Class-Wide Function-Based Intervention Teams that is currently underway at JGCP.
After completing my master’s, I began working with Dr. Greg Hanley as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center. I loved working with children and their families in the Educare classrooms and teaching Early Childhood practicum students. This experience allowed me to hone my supervisory and teaching skills for both adults and children. As it turns out, keeping 17 four-year-olds engaged at Circle Time is harder than instructing undergraduates! Dr. Hanley also presented me with the opportunity to conduct single-subject research in an experimental setting. Recently, my first publication as primary author came out in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. In that study, Dr. Hanley and I continued research originally conducted by Dr. Jeff Tiger who found children prefer the opportunity to choose. Our study strengthened Dr. Tiger’s findings by showing that children prefer to choose even when choosing results in items that are not qualitatively or quantitatively different from those that someone chooses for them, and that this preference persists even when the items available are less-preferred. This finding is probably something that anyone who knows children could tell you, but we were excited to show it experimentally.
For the past two years, I have worked with Dr. Kate Saunders on her Recombinative Generalization of within Syllable Units in MR project in Lawrence. In collaboration with Dr. Nancy Brady, we conducted a study using computerized instructional programming to teach adults with intellectual disabilities and low speech intelligibility to select the first letter in spoken words. This phonemic awareness skill is a prerequisite for alphabet cueing, a common augmentative communication method. We are currently examining application of the skills our participants have acquired. I have thoroughly enjoyed conducting this research and am excited that I will soon be defending these studies as my dissertation. Dr. Saunders, Dr. Brady, and Dr. Joe Spradlin have assisted me greatly in this project and in the process have broadened my understanding of behavior analysis, stimulus control, reading and phonemic awareness, speech and language, and instructional programming.
As my time as a graduate student at KU draws to a close, I recognize that I have had an unusual number of opportunities to work with many talented researchers. For that, I am grateful! I am newly married and have adjusted my career plans so I can remain in Lawrence. I was pleased to accept a position as an Autism Behavior Consultant for Lawrence Public Schools, and I hope to maintain my KU connections and possibly begin collaborative research in a new setting.