December 11, 2018  

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Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Earns Poster Award at National Conference

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Katie Ramsey, a second-year doctoral student in The University of Southern Mississippi’s clinical psychology program, was recently awarded the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies ADHD Special Interest Group's 2018 "Exceptional Graduate Student Poster" at the organization’s national conference.

Ramsey’s poster presentation was based on the work of a pilot research project titled, "Internalization of Behavior Management Skills Among Teachers in a Specialized School Serving Students with Neurodevelopmental Disorders," for which she served as a team member. Ramsey’s responsibilities with the project included training and consultation of teachers, data collection and data management, and analyzing and presenting these data under psychology faculty member Dr. Stephanie Smith’s clinical supervision and research mentorship. 

The primary goal of the study was determining how long it takes teachers to reach a 50 percent increase of behavior management skill use with at least a maintenance of three consecutive weeks. Participants included teachers and their students in grades 9-12 in The Institute of Diverse Education (TIDE) School based in Hattiesburg, which serves students with neurodevelopment disorders (e.g., ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disorder). Teachers received one-hour didactic trainings on behavior management skills (i.e., use of positive reinforcement and effective commands) on a bi-monthly basis, and brief weekly consultation sessions to provide feedback on their skill use.

“Our research team devoted a lot of time and effort into this project, so it feels rewarding to be recognized for our hard work,” said Ramsey, a native of Jackson, Miss. “I feel this research is important considering many general education teachers do not receive sufficient training in using behavior management skills to address disruptive behaviors in students, and it is unclear how long it takes for teachers to internalize these skills when delivered to a specialized population of students.”

Ramsey said the results of the research suggest internalization of these skills may not occur until two-three months after training, so feedback on skill use should continue for at least this length of time. Moreover, some skills may require more time to internalize than others, so broad generalizations should not be made about how quickly behavior management skills are learned.

“I was informed by the chair-elect (of the conference) that the poster competition for the ABCT ADHD Special Interest Group was extremely competitive this year,” Dr. Smith said. “I believe Katie’s award is very well-deserved, and reflects the important work we are doing in the community.”

For information about USM’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, visit https://www.usm.edu/clinical-psychology.