Based on three separate studies published during the past year, the Neag School of Education's school psychology program and its faculty are at the top of their field.
Thomas DeFranco, associate dean of the Neag School, says their accomplishments are impressive.
"Our school psychology program may be small," DeFranco says, "but our three faculty members, Thomas Kehle, Melissa Bray, and Sandra Chafouleas, are extremely productive scholars who are dedicated to their profession, their school, and their students."
The most recent study, published in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Psychology in the School , was conducted by a research team at the University of Minnesota.
The Neag School's school psychology program ranked number one for the most journal articles published during the six-year period 2000 to 2005.
"What makes this study different from the other two," says Kehle, program director and senior scholar, "is that the previous studies examined publications in the five or six primary school psychology journals and did not use a comprehensive database."
The new study used PsycINFO, a massive resource for psychological literature dating from the 1800s to the present.
Its focus was the 56 programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA); the Neag School program achieved that status six years ago.
On average, most of the individual faculty members in the programs produced one article a year.
The Neag team averaged 14, which put them at the top of the individual rankings as well.
Of the 291 APA-accredited faculty members, Bray ranked second and Kehle was fourth.
The pair also ranked high in two previous studies, ranging from first place to 10th. Chafouleas, the youngest member of the team, ranked 22nd in one study and 33rd in the other.
The Neag School program is considered small, with 44 graduate students.
Admission is competitive.
Last year, for example, there were 128 applicants for six available slots.
Bray says, "Although we are school psychologists with a cognitive-behavioral orientation, we teach a diversity of theory and practice, and help our students develop and pursue their individual research interests."
Adds Chafouleas, "As a faculty, we are respectful of each other's work, even though our areas of research are different."
Her primary focus is on the prevention of reading difficulties, and applying evidence-based strategies to the classroom.
"Although we do not necessarily work together on every project," she says, "we are highly collaborative by supporting each other and promoting each other's work. This is a contributing factor to our success."
Kehle and Bray have been working together since she was his student. Both are Fellows of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. Kehle is also a Fellow of the American Association of Applied and Preventative Psychology.
Much of their research and writing has focused on self-modeling and its use as an intervention for communication disorders, disruptive classroom behavior, and physical health and wellness.
Bray is currently studying emotionally-triggered asthma. Kehle, who has worked in nearly every school district in the state, is passionate about his work with selective mutism disorder and his RICH theory - the four characteristics that define psychological happiness (resources, intimacy, competence, and health).
"The three of us have created an environment conducive to good scholarship," Kehle says. "This is about the quality of our work - not just the quantity."