Abby Hodges, a Baylor School of Education graduate student, was awarded the James Kopp Scholarship Award and also won the poster competition at the conference of the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis. Hodges is a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology, studying Applied Behavior Analysis.
The Kopp Scholarship provides Hodges with $500 to travel to the national conference and was based on the strength of the research she will present there. Hodges research also won her the poster competition for her poster titled “Using Shaping to Increase Foods Consumed by Children with Autism.”
Dr. Tonya Davis, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, has worked with Hodges for the two years Hodges has been in the program.
“We are incredibly proud of her,” Davis said. “I have attended this conference for years, and I cannot ever remember a time where the same person won both awards; there are only two awards given, and Abby was a recipient of both.”
In her research, Hodges focused on the relationship of autism and food selectivity. Refusing food is a common problem for children with developmental disabilities. Studies showed that using behavioral interventions helped children consume more, but often children still were limited to specific foods. For her project, Hodges aimed to increase the variety of food consumed as well as the amount. Hodges used “shaping” — an incremental reward process — to encourage the children to consume the food.
“Autism was one of the main reasons I became so interested in behavior analysis,” Hodges said. “It pushes me every single day because there are always ways to learn more.”
Hodges works at Baylor’s Clinic for Assessment, Research and Education (CARE), part of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD). Hodges said her experience working for Baylor CARE is one of the reasons she enjoys the Baylor School of Education so much.
“Working in the clinic has given me the opportunity to learn how to better relate to students and see how different teaching strategies might work for one student but not another,” Hodges said.
Four other Baylor graduate students also presented posters at the conference.
“It’s a huge honor to be a ‘winner’ but I think the real victory is the strength of all the students in the Baylor program,” Hodges said. “They make me want to work harder.”
Originally from Jones, Oklahoma, Hodges graduated from Texas Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish in 2014. Hodges chose Baylor’s psychology department because of the involved faculty and opportunities for growth.
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Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
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Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.