Alyce M. Dickinson, Ph.D.
InterestsTeachingPublicationsMy StudentsPersonalVitaLinks
Some Personal Details About Me

I was born on May 8, 1953 in West Pittston, PA. I have one brother, who is three years older than I am.

My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, although in reality she was the “first lady” of the churches my father served. She also was the church secretary until we moved to a church that had a paid secretary; but that did not happen until I was in high school. I remember spending many a Saturday night folding bulletins, which she had typed and mimeographed, for Sunday services.

As was typical of minister’s families at that time, we moved around quite a bit, but always in northeastern PA or southern tier NY. We moved to Meshoppen, PA, shortly after I was born and lived there for two years. We moved to Sherburne, NY, for three years, then to Plymouth, PA, for six years. When I was in the eighth grade, we moved to Montrose, PA, where we stayed another six years. I graduated from Montrose High School in 1971. My parents made a fateful move to Wilkes-Barre, PA, in 1972, two weeks before Agnes. The Susquehanna River flooded the entire Wyoming Valley, our “new” house along with it. We had 5’7’’ of water on the second floor. We were, however, more fortunate than most.

My father’s cousin lived in Mountain Top, aptly named and only a short distance from Wilkes-Barre, and her family took us in the day we were forced to evacuate. Montrose immobilized and sent work crews to help us as soon as we were allowed back in to clean up. And, the Wilkes-Barre congregation found us alternative living arrangements until we were able to move back to the house, approximately one year later. Following that rather traumatic period, my parents moved to Chenango Bridge, NY. By that time, however, I had graduated from college and was in graduate school.

I attended Lycoming College, a four-year liberal arts college in Williamsport, PA, and majored in psychology even though I had never taken a psychology course. I became interested in behavior analysis at Lycoming and considered myself a “behaviorist” by the time I graduated in 1974. I was strongly influenced by three professors. First and foremost was Richard O’Brien, my advisor, who had graduated from West Virginia University not long before. He and I remain good friends to this day. Second was Larry Hurr, who was a behavioral school psychologist, and third was Bill Brittain, a physiological psychologist.

I had planned to pursue a career in school psychology until I had a 20-hour a week internship in the schools during the fall and spring semesters of my senior year. I found out that I was not destined for a career in school psychology. I picked up a book on industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology and decided that was to be my career, even though I had never taken a course in I-O psychology. I read as much as I could about the application of behavioral principles and technology in the work place, but there was not a lot to read, which is perhaps one of the reasons I found it to be an attractive area.

At that time, there were no graduate schools where I could pursue behavior analysis and I-O psychology. I decided to pursue a degree in behavior analysis rather than I-O psychology, and began the master’s program at Drake University in 1974. I greatly admired the faculty who where there, but after one semester decided that neither their experimental program nor their applied program that focused on working with individuals with developmental disabilities was going to get me into a business setting. Thus, I withdrew and the next fall continued my graduate study in an eclectic I-O psychology program at Fairleigh Dickinson (no relation) University in Madison, NJ.

In June of 1977, I accepted a job in the management personnel division at Port Authority of NY and NJ. I had an office on the 61st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. For me, every day felt like a prime time TV show of “country girl goes to the city.” More people worked in the Trade Center than lived in Montrose, PA. In January 1979, I accepted a position at the New York State Court Administration, also located in the City.

By that time, Western Michigan University had a graduate program that combined behavior analysis with I-O psychology. I applied to work with Dale Brethower in the applied behavior analysis doctoral program, and he accepted me. I started the doctoral program in the fall of 1980.

I received my Ph.D. in 1985. I began teaching at WMU in 1984, taking over for a faculty member who was on sabbatical. In 1985, an I-O psychology faculty member left, and I was asked to stay on for another year. One year led to another, and I am still here at WMU. There is no place I would rather be. I have the highest regard for the faculty who were my teachers and were or now still are my colleagues, as well as the highest regard for the WMU faculty who are more junior to me. And, just as an aside, I was the first female associate professor and full professor in the department.

I believe my main contributions fall into four areas. First is my classroom teaching and mentorship of graduate students. I firmly believe that students can benefit greatly from classroom instruction and, secondly, that students should be well grounded in the basic principles and concepts of behavior analysis regardless of their area of specialization. I devote considerable time to my teaching, and in all of my classes teach not only technology, but also the conceptual bases for that technology so that the applied work of students can be informed by our science of behavior. In terms of graduate students, I have advised 15 doctoral students and 49 master’s students. Twenty-one of my master’s students completed research theses; 22 completed applied capstone projects in training, performance management, or systems analyses. My students and the titles of their dissertations, theses, and projects are listed in my vita that can be downloaded from this web site.

Second, although I was not one of the pioneers in organizational behavior management, I came along soon after and contributed to the promotion of the field by editing, along with Richard O’Brien, one of the first handbooks in the field in 1982, and by helping to develop the Organizational Behavior Management Network, along with Bill Redmon, Tom Mawhinney, Richard O’Brien, and Jon Bailey. Together we organized the annual meetings and presentations at ABA and initiated the semi-annual conferences and the OBM Network award program. (For a detailed description of the history of OBM field according to Alyce, see the following article: Dickinson, A. M., 2000, The historical roots of Organizational Behavior Management in the private sector: The 1950s - 1980s. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 20 (3/4), 9-58.)

Third, I have been the director of our I-O psychology program for 26 years. Our program is one of the few programs in the country where students can obtain masters and doctoral training in OBM that is embedded in a completely behavioral training program. Our graduates are highly respected professionals in the field (for a partial listing of our alumni see:

Over the years we have expanded our business partners, many of whom are our alumni. Our business partners provide opportunities for our students to conduct applied projects and many also provide paid internships or contract work for our students. This has enabled us to offer our students excellent applied training. These business partners include Consumers Energy (Doug Mead), Pfizer (Kevin Munson, now at Sears), Bronson Methodist Hospital (Eduardo Osorio and Richard Van Enk), The Foundation for Behavioral Resources (Norm Peterson), Dams & Associates (Peter Dams), ABAI (Maria Malott), QualitySafetyEdge (Terry McSween), Ardent Learning (Barbara Bucklin), MedAxiom (Joe Sasson), Kellogg's (Thor Flosason), and Residential Opportunities, Inc. (Scott Schrum, Doug King, and Jules Isenberg-Wedel), among others.

I believe my fourth contribution stems from the research my students and I have done, particularly in the area of monetary incentives. A number of my students have been interested in other topics, such as fluency training (Angelica Grindle, Barbara Bucklin, and Rhiannon Fante), computer-based training (Wendy Jaehnig and Doug Johnson), social comparison feedback (Ellie Hwang, Jessica Urschel, Sarah Van Stelle), self-solicited computerized feedback (Julie Slowiak), goal setting (Jessica Urschel) and staff management in human service settings (Jeana Koerber). I have encouraged and supported these efforts and believe that they will lead to valuable insights as my students (and former students) and I continue to pursue these areas.

The names of my students along with the titles of their dissertations, theses or projects, and my publications and presentations are listed in my vita that can be downloaded from this web site.










Alyce Dickinson can be contacted at

Website designed and maintained by Operant-Tech