July 20, 2022

On July 13, staff members from The New England Center for Children (NECC) enrolled in the Simmons University Applied Autism Research graduate program presented their research proposals during a poster session at NECC’s campus in Southborough. The students were joined by their professors: Jessica Seaver, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, program director for Public School Services (PSS) at NECC and Simmons University adjunct professor, and Jonathan Seaver, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, director of special projects in NECC’s Consulting department and Simmons adjunct professor.

Alex Heggie

First-place winner Alex Heggie.

According to Chris Evans, MEd, professor of practice and graduate program director for Simmons University, the continued constraints from the pandemic gave students the opportunity to spend significant time reviewing their particular research topics. This review involved a written literature synthesis and discussion as well as production of a research proposal including hypothetical data and accompanying presentations. Prior to the in-person poster session, students prepared previews of their proposals through engaging PowerPoints with voice recordings; this allowed the session judges to preview the projects prior to their actual presentations. 

Tori Rieger and Emily Field

Runners-up Tori Rieger and Emily Field.

The student projects were reviewed by a panel of 14 judges. The panel included Simmons Interim Dean of the College of Social Science, Policy, and Practice Val Leiter, PhD; members of NECC’s clinical, education, research and executive teams; and NECC staff alumni who are currently working in the field of education. One winner and one runner-up were chosen by the judges. First place was awarded to Alex Heggie, an APE teacher at NECC, for his presentation, A Comparison of Least to Most Prompting Versus Video Behavioral Interventions for the Acquisition of Gross Motor Skills. Second place was given to IIP teachers Tory Rieger and Emily Field for their joint project, A Comparison of Two Stimulus Fading Prompts to Develop Time Skills.

“This event was a great day for the Simmons and NECC community, particularly for our recent graduates,” said Evans. “I would like to congratulate all the Simmons students for their hard work across both semesters this year. I would also like to thank the Seaver team for their incredible flexibility and dedication to their students, as well as the commitment of our judges.”

As full-time employees of NECC, these students are afforded the opportunity to further their educational goals and earn a free master’s degree through this unique partnership with Simmons University. NECC supports the professional development and education of its employees through partnerships like this one as well as with Western New England University, where staff can enroll in on-site master’s, doctorate, and other degree programs. Since the early 1990s, NECC has graduated more than 1,500 BCBAs and special education teachers through graduate training partnerships with Simmons University–including 38 this spring–and Western New England University. For more information on NECC’s free graduate programs, visit the program page.