James L. Kopp

2011 TxABA Award - Pioneer of Behavior Analysis in Texas

1935 - 2010

Jim Kopp worked as a behavior analyst in Texas for 40 years. He was a member of the faculty of the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington from September, 1970 until his death on November 19, 2010. He earned his doctorate in psychology at the University of Michigan under the guidance of Drs. Harlan Lane, Bill Stebbins, and George James L. KoppGeis. After completing his graduate studies at Michigan, Jim taught for three years at the Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate Center, Claremont, California.

During his 40 year career in Texas, Jim’s most prominent contributions to behavior analysis were as a teacher and mentor. Many of the students in his undergraduate behavior analysis courses went on to graduate studies in the field and to productive careers in behavior analysis. Jim always took time to interact with students at all educational levels, providing them individual mentoring and encouragement that he maintained well after they graduated. He took great pride in teaching one of the few remaining undergraduate courses that included a "rat lab" in which students conducted operant conditioning lab activities with a rat. Jim took great pride in his students developing behavior research repertories under his guidance. Nevertheless, he proudly and actively engaged in applied behavior analysis work beginning in the early 1970s. He and his students worked with persons with autism, intellectual disabilities, and severe problematic behaviors in varied settings.

Jim was active in both the Association for Behavior Analysis International, regularly presenting papers at the annual conference, and also in the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis (TxABA). He was the first president of TxABA, later was a member of TxABA Executive Council, and for several years, until the time of his death, was an academic representative member of the steering committee of TxABA autism special interest groups.

Submitted by Gordon Bourland