If you look at my Curriculum Vita on this web page you will see that I have published many research projects on perceptual learning and cognitive development. For the last 35 years I focused on helping children who lag in cognitive development to catch up to their peers. This sometimes involved blind or mentally challenged youngsters, or those with ESL or minority status, but more often it was children who are behind their peers cognitively for no identifiable reason. Instead of the common general enrichment approach, I used "learning set" methods to teach children the key cognitive constructs appropriate for their age. For the constructs I relied partly on Piaget, partly on comparative psychology, and partly on my own insights. The learning set methodology is borrowed from Harlow and Gagne. The synthesis of content and method leads to meaningful gains on IQ tests and in academic achievement that endure for at least a few years, and some gains in self esteem for the children! This research has been supported by large grants from the Institute of Educational Science.
More recently, I have begun to investigate the kinds of thinking - executive functions - that are involved in social and emotional development, with the aid of my new students. I have also developed a connection with the Multicultural Center of Virginia, which pays beginning M.A. and Ph. D. $20/hour for work with clients under supervision. If combined with appropriate coursework, this can lead to a BCBA certificate. I may be able to support you on my new IES grant.
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH
I started supervising dissertations and master's theses in 1969, and feel that I offer graduate students the best preparation they can get for research careers. For one thing, it is important to realize that spending more than four years in graduate school can count against you. A good rule of thumb across the country is that graduating in four years means you kept your eye on the ball, worked hard, and were smart about it, five years is normal, and more than five years indicates that you were not as efficient as you should have been. If you wish, I'll try hard to get you out in four years! Secondly, the four years should produce four or more publications; if you can do that, you will be competitive for academic positions. People look for such things on your resume when they consider hiring you. Also, it is a positive feature to get some small grant while you are a graduate student - it indicates that you will try to get grants as a Ph.D.
If you are one of the many students who are more interested in an applied position than in becoming a professor at another institution, a different time table may serve your needs, and we'll work together to make sure that you can proceed at the pace you wish. A very relaxed pace can work well for some students, especially those with families or important jobs.
Most of my graduate students have hands-on experience conducting research with children their first semester, and direct undergraduates in those procedures their second semester. This research project becomes their first conference presentation and journal article. Their second project, often built on the first and profiting from lessons learned, can serve as a pilot for the dissertation, and produces the second article and presentation. I'll help you find a less demanding role in some third project, probably helping another graduate student with their project or analyzing data in return for co-authorship. Your dissertation will be the fourth journal article and presentation. You may well have more!
If this sounds like a lot, remember that you are not alone at GMU. I will help you, and other students, undergraduate, MA, and PhD, will also help you, in return for the learning experience and coauthorships. You always have the option of making a solo effort, but our department encourages cooperative work, even on dissertations. I am very generous with coauthorships. You should be first author on projects in which you play the lead role, other students who played significant parts will come next, and I will usually be last, in return for helping you develop your ideas, design and set up the project, obtain access to children, hosting research meetings, and [usually] doing some of the data analysis and a lot of the writing. Together with the very strong computer and statistical competency our program will give you, this publication record, what I will teach you about single subject and group research designs, and experience in supervising a research team of your own will make you quite competitive in the job market. I bring students to professional conferences for the experience and encourage them to make poster and paper presentations. We also have fun! I work very hard at finding professional employment for my students after they graduate!
To learn a bit about those students working with me now, check out the section on students and scholarship on this web page.