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Amazing Student: Tyler-Curtis Elliott

  |   Anika Chaturvedi   |   Permalink   |   Amazing Students,   Students and Faculty

An Athens native, Tyler-Curtis Elliott (B.A. ’20, B.S.Ed. ’20, M.Ed. ’22, Ph.D. ’25) researches the application of behavior analysis in schools and works in the Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research. Through academics, volunteer experience, and a television appearance, Elliott is sharing knowledge of the field.

  • Hometown: Athens, Georgia
  • Degree objective and graduation date: Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in behavior analysis, spring 2025
  • Degree(s) and graduation date: B.A. in Spanish, 2020; B.S.Ed. in special education, 2020; M.Ed. in behavior analysis and special education, 2022. All of these degrees are from the University of Georgia!
What made you choose to attend UGA?

Both my father and my sister graduated from the University of Georgia, thus I always wanted to follow in their footsteps.

What campus organizations and community groups are you involved in at UGA/in Athens?

I worked for over six years with Extra Special People (ESP) in various capacities: volunteer, camp counselor, 360 program staff, intern, unit leader, site manager, etc. ESP will always have a special place in my heart—I feel like I was raised there.

Portrait of Tyler-Curtis ElliotTell me about your primary research interests.

My research interests are currently on applications of behavior analysis within schools. I want to give teachers the tools of behavior analysis so that they may use them in their classrooms. In fact, this summer, I am helping run a teacher training program for educators interested in applying behavior analysis to their teaching repertoire.

 Tell me about your role on the show “Leave it to Geege.” How did that opportunity come about, and what was that experience like?

Being a cast member on the show “Leave it To Geege” came by chance—I have been best friends with the star of the show, Pootie, and his mom Geege for almost nine years. We have grown so close that I live with them. So naturally, when Geege and Pootie discovered they were going to have a show filmed about their life, I was included. I never even considered (or wanted) to be on a TV show, but when the opportunity came, I knew it would be a large and powerful way to disseminate the science of behavior analysis. I knew I couldn’t turn that down. Anyone who watches the show can see the references and use of behavior analysis throughout each episode.

What have been some of your favorite classes in the Mary Frances Early College of Education?

A few years ago, I took a course in single case research design. Previously, I had never understood group research. I always felt betrayed by a research method that only looks at the mean of the group rather than each individual. When the mean of a group increases, there is still a chance that many of those participants will be left behind. Single case research opened a door for me because it was a research design methodology that allowed for intricate, detailed, and rigorous analysis of an intervention. I even got a tattoo of a “withdrawal” design.

Why are you passionate about special education and behavior analysis?

During my first practicum placement, I remember coming home and crying each day. Unfortunately, the students were neglected, and the teacher relied only on aversive contingencies to maintain control of her room. The students made little (if any) progress on their goals, and it was painful for me to watch. I thought all special education classrooms were like this and so I tried to drop out of the program. Dr. Anna Butler heard me say this and recommended that I come watch her classroom.

The difference was drastic: in this class, they used effective practices, focused on reinforcement-based procedures, had individualized protocols, interacted with and engaged their students, and more. I knew that was the kind of classroom that my students deserved, so I vowed to become a behavior analyst—what Dr. Butler and the other teachers were in that room.

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation, I would like to take a year or two and pitch a documentary series about behavior analysis. Through my work on “Leave it to Geege,” I have connections with production networks, and I am passionate enough about behavior analysis that I think anyone who listened to me would agree: more people need to know how behavior analysis can apply to their lives. There are so many applications, from drug addiction, academic intervention, health and fitness, sports, organizational behavior, and more. If the world had access to this information, I believe it would be a better place.

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