In the previous post, we listed six characteristics to look for in a high quality behavior analytic supervisor. We believe that a great supervisor is an excellent MENTOR. Now that you know what to look for, we want to help you find a supervisor with these skills. Let’s start with the first characteristic:
Measures your skills through demonstrated competencies.
You may wonder why this is important. First, let’s look at the alternative: a supervisor could simply ask you to describe what you’ve done and what you’re doing. It may be that during your
meetings, she asks you to talk about your experience and why you selected the interventions you did. She may provide you with questions to answer, and even written exams. None of these things are wrong – but we assert they are simply not enough. The entire point of supervision is to learn how to do what you will be doing in your career. It is unlikely that your day to day job will require that you answer questions and describe why/how you are choosing the interventions. Rather, your job involves observing, measuring, and making hypotheses about the functional relations that show up with your consumers. In addition to the verbal behavior involved in discussing what you are planning, there are some things you’ll do (especially when you’re working directly with a consumer) that go beyond what can be captured by verbal statements. Some examples could be whether you get your timing right with a reinforcement or pairing procedure. Missing the right moment, even by a small amount, can really unravel your plans. While you may be able to tell me that you will deliver a stimulus immediately after the targeted response – Are you actually able to do it? It is the latter that is the critical feature of supervised experience.
Finding the right supervisor
How can you determine if your supervisor will in fact measure the skills she is targeting? For starters, your supervisor must observe you engaging in these behavior analytic activities. So when you’re speaking with a potential supervisor, ask her what the experience would look like and see how often she will be actually observing your behavior analytic repertoire. At minimum, a supervisor might stop there and not do much more. Hopefully, your supervisor will turn each observation into a learning opportunity by measuring the skill she is observing, and providing you with specific praise and corrective feedback on your performance. When addressing a skill that has not yet been observed, a supervisor may ask you to talk about the skill.
What does it look like?
To recap, when a supervisor is measuring your competencies, the supervisor will:
- Watch you perform specific skills.
- Note and record specific components of a skill that were done correctly, as well as the components that were implemented with errors.
- Deliver specific feedback on your performance.
- Teach a skill and/or demonstrate the correct implementation of a skill when errors are present.
- Require you to repeat a skill until it has been performed with minimal to no errors.
- Reassess performance at a later date to ensure that a skill has been retained.
- Provide a quantified assessment of your repertoire
- Track your growth in mastered competencies
This, in combination with the other skills, will allow you to develop the behavior analytic repertoire to be more than just a technician, but a bonafide sophisticated behavior analyst. This is what our field needs, and your consumers deserve!
You are now equipped with information to identify and demand one of six excellent supervisor characteristics. Keep an eye out for more posts, as BAM Network provides details on the remaining five! We are working diligently to develop a system which guarantees that all of our supervisors will deliver this kind of experience to all of our supervisees. Ask us more about how you may fit into this vision!