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UMass Lowell Online Program Receives National Honor


Graduate Certificate Studying Autism Named Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program by Prominent Education Organization

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ The Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit organization that works with education providers to improve quality, scale and breadth of online programs, recently named UMass Lowell’s online graduate program in Behavioral Intervention in Autism as the 2008 winner of the Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program in the nation.

UMass Lowell was recognized by the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) for creating a “rigorous, high-quality online graduate program that meets the growing need for individuals with expertise in dealing with the challenges of autism.”  UMass Lowell is the only winner of the Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program award this year and is one of only a dozen institutions nationwide that will be honored at the 14th Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning this month.

“UMass Lowell’s innovative program is designed to better prepare professionals and families to respond to challenges presented by the growing population of children with autism and related disorders,” said Prof. Richard Siegel, coordinator of the online graduate certificate program. “The program was developed collaboratively by UMass Lowell, UMass Medical School-Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and UMass Online. Since it was launched in 2005, enrollment in the program has quadrupled.”

The number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing, according to the Autism Society of America and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in every 150 American children is diagnosed with autism, and almost 1 in every 94 boys, according to 2007 data.

Behavior analysis, the focus of the UMass Lowell program, is documented as the most effective approach to improving the lives of people diagnosed with autism, explained Prof. Charlotte Mandell, vice provost for undergraduate education and coordinator of the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst track of the autism program.

“With the reported increases in autism, there is a burgeoning need for skilled practitioners of behavior analysis throughout the nation and, indeed, the world,” said Mandell.

“The recognition of this certificate is rewarding to all of the faculty who have worked so diligently to make sure that working professionals and parents with children who have autism benefit from this much needed program,” said Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney. “I am extremely proud of the faculty and staff who worked so collaboratively to build this online certificate as a highly interactive, rich experience for the students who enroll in it.”

The certificate program is taught through the Psychology Department.

“From the outset, all the faculty for this program have been carefully selected based on holding a doctorate in psychology, being certified as behavior analysts and working as practicing professionals or researchers directly involved in patient care,” explained Prof. Nina Coppens, chair of the Psychology Department.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. .

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