Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jack L. Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Howard Farris

Third Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lawrence-Patterson


Although practica are often required of psychology students at various points during their graduate training, seldom are any resulting skills described and validated. Faculty are occasionally involved in campus-based clinics which serve some practicum students; however, when practica are based off-campus, faculty are seldom directly involved. As a result, practica are frequently uncoordinated, duplicative, and non-specific in terms of their practicum student training procedures.

Although there have been some attempts reported to systematize and coordinate either off-campus or on-campus practica, no such effort has been previously reported in relation to multiple complex organizations, both on-campus and off-campus.

In the present study, a behavioral systems analysis of Western Michigan University's doctoral practicum program in applied behavior analysis was undertaken, resulting in a comprehensive array of goals for improving the existing system. Certain goals were identified as outcomes of this study. In an effort to develop a coordinated and validated practicum network across multiple complex organizations both on-campus and off-campus, a committee was formed comprised of several supervisors from practicum sites. Site evaluation criteria were developed and approved by the University and subsequently field tested through a comprehensive site evaluation system. As a result, sites which met different criterion levels of performance were awarded different levels of accreditation. Recommendations for improvement were provided to each site and the university.

As a result of this behavioral systems approach, all sites demonstrated or agreed to provide precise assessments and specifications of practicum student skill levels resulting from the practica. Most sites also agreed to modify their practicum training procedures to the extent that they meet the criteria provided in this study. Information concerning the training features and capabilities of all sites were configured in a matrix which will enable faculty to match practicum site features with student needs.

This study provided a basis for continued coordination and verification of practicum activities and outcomes across many diverse practicum sites. Further, it suggested a model which could be adopted (with minor modifications) by various disciplines.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons