The A. Britton Smith Centre for Behavioural Studies (CBS) is a hub for researchers, faculty, students, behaviour analysts and community service providers to work together to advance the science of behaviour analysis through education, practical application, and collaborative research work. The Centre was officially launched in 2013 and is located in historic Newcourt House on St. Lawrence College's Kingston campus.
Learn more about the A. Britton Smith Centre for Behavioural Studies through this Q&A with Mike Williams (he/him/his), Manager, Centre for Behavioural Studies, and Alex Glecoff (he/him/his), Centre for Behavioural Studies Facilitator.
Q: What brought you to St. Lawrence College?
Mike: I’m a graduate of the BPSYC program from 2009, second graduating class! My post-secondary degree at SLC prepared me to start my professional career and after getting a job in California right out of graduation, living in the US for 10 years, getting my master’s degree and becoming a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst, I’m back! I love Kingston and SLC is an important launch pad for many of the behaviour analytic service providers in this area. Connecting with the amazing faculty and students here is a real joy.
Alex: I graduated from the BPSYC Honours program in 2017 and launched immediately into a career working with children on the autism spectrum. It was a very rewarding experience, which sparked an interest in further education. I enrolled in the Master of Applied Disability Studies (MADS) at Brock University in 2020 and am currently completing my studies. My interest in my field has continued to grow and as of late, I am very interested in the wide applications of behaviour science. This, and my history as a student at SLC has led me to the Facilitator position here at the A. Britton Smith Centre for Behavioural Studies. I’m very excited to give back to a place that launched my study/career.
Q: How does your role fit into the Centre for Behavioural Studies team?
Mike: I function as the manager of the Centre and so my role spans from operational elements like planning, strategic connections, and coordination with faculty, students, and community providers over to things like providing input and direction on projects, supervising the clinical practices of Alex, and guiding the direction of the Centre as we continue to establish, develop, and deepen our connection with the College and community. I do the managerial ‘stuff’ but really like getting into the clinical piece as well.
Alex: My role as the Facilitator is to do just that, facilitate. While I am actively involved in coming up with ideas and opportunities for activities at the Centre, much of my role involves executing and facilitating activities. This often looks like background research on others’ projects, program creation, facilitating services, training students, or collaborating with professors and assisting if they are looking for a guest speaker or an extra set of hands to enhance in-class learning activities.
Q: How does the Centre for Behavioural Studies engage with students and employees at SLC?
Mike: We’re focused on establishing relationships in the College right now with the amazing talent in our faculty. As we’ve been forging a somewhat new path after the past two years, it’s been a great process of learning from the experienced faculty about what they do, sharing what we do, and finding the space for innovation together. Finding those opportunities is not always easy but I’ve found that connecting on a one-to-one level has been very rewarding.
For students, in the future we plan to have:
- Placement options for applicable programs (e.g., BPSYC, AUBS, BSP)
- Placement options for other programs that are applicable (e.g., Data Analytics, business) where we can benefit from the knowledge of the students in other Schools
- Research assistant positions
- Other paid positions when these become possible and applicable
Q: How does the work of the Centre for Behavioural Studies align with SLC’s values?
Alex: I think we align strongly with SLC’s value of Teamwork. We want to have our own standalone research and services of course, but our major goal this year is to establish ourselves as a conduit to help faculty achieve their research or clinical goals in the context of their work at the College.
Regarding the value of student engagement, we always look for ways to include students in our plans. We want to make the Centre for Behavioural Studies a crucial element of the learning experience for applicable students and involve them in learning exercises, clinical services, research, and innovative projects.
I think Belonging is a strong suit of ours as well. One of our goals here at the Centre is to create an environment, particularly for the behaviourally focused students, that can operate as an additional resource that is more than just a physical space. CBS is a place that students can come for experience, expertise, and learning, or to share in their professional interests without feeling judged or pressured to perform flawlessly.
Q: What is something you wish the SLC community knew about your role?
Mike: While we have some specific targets and types of projects we want to get involved with, essentially having a behavioural angle, there are a surprising number of in-roads that people might not expect. Behaviour analysis applies to so many different settings and situations and is so much more than a treatment tool or bag of tricks.
With a science of behaviour, we are focused on the context where behaviour occurs and can conceptualize problems and issues not as a product of people being good or bad or because of something that’s out of reach but in relation to their circumstances. This is a crucial element that really helps find the path forward to help. This approach also extends outside of what we’re typically known for nowadays (autism services) and applies to human behaviour and other fields (organizational behaviour, animal behaviour, cultural behaviour) which is exciting!
To partner with us, you don’t have to be an expert in behaviour analysis, you’re an expert in your field and your application and that’s how collaboration becomes greater than the sum of our parts!
Q: What projects/programs/research are currently in the works?
Mike/Alex: For this semester we’ve been involved in several different projects and initiatives including:
- We worked with Pam Shea in her training of a group of BPSYC students becoming Action Planning facilitators at the Centre, we provided additional practice sessions with feedback
- An inter-professional community-engagement project with BPSYC and Police Foundations – across the semester CBS has met with over 100 students across 15 student groups bi-weekly to support their project and supported this project administratively in other ways as well
- Therapeutic Recreation classes on site every Tuesday with Shannon McCallum
- A standardized client roleplay on managing disruptive behaviour with Community and Justice Services for 22 students
- A workshop to students to build presentation skills
- Various in-class or in-centre exercises with AUBS focusing on behavioural skills e.g., preference assessments, functional assessments, skills assessments, etc.
- We worked with Amber Adams to create complete client (mock) profiles and provided an enhanced learning opportunity for students to practice a functional behavioural assessment by roleplaying as a parent
- Worked with a BPSYC class on functional assessments, providing complete client profiles and an enhanced learning opportunity by roleplaying as a parent for them
- We applied for a research grant in the field of Gerontology and are excited about that potential expansion
- We benefitted from some great Data Analytics students who worked with us to develop a nice database to start collecting data elements on all our projects, we do data 😊
Next semester we’re working on a few things as well:
- Establishing a student Planning and Review Committee (PRC) to add to the leadership and guidance we receive for our excellent faculty PRC
- We are also planning to work with Pam Shea next semester on an interprofessional classroom project including BPSYC and Engineering Students
- We’re also working with Pam and Meaghen Shaver to bring back Climate Champs and support the work of sustainability with a focus on climate change at the College
- In January, we’re hosting a skill-building clinic for individuals on the autism spectrum for 6-weeks in partnership with Meaghen Shaver for Autism and Behaviour Science (AUBS). This project will be a cool way for students to work with children from the community with faculty and CBS support
- We’re working with Meaghen Shaver to provide enhanced placement opportunities in partnership with a local high school, focusing on how to navigate riding the bus and social skills
- If our grant application is approved, we will be rolling out that research/clinical project as well
- We plan to take 1-2 placement students
- This list is growing week by week!
If you want to connect with us, shoot me an email email@example.com or to the main inbox firstname.lastname@example.org. I would say stop on by but sometimes we have clients in the building so scheduling a time where we can meet, discuss, and co-create is beneficial.
Our predecessors did an amazing job on the CBS website and there is a lot of content to help get a flavour of what we do: www.centreforbehaviouralstudies.ca