SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jamie Yarbrough

SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jamie Yarbrough

Dr. Jamie Yarbrough, program director, Department of Psychology

Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) fund recipient

Project: “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)”

Although still in the process of collecting data, Yarbrough and graduate students from her psychology research lab have made presentations on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). They presented at the 2020 and 2021 National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention and were awarded the "Viewers Choice" award at the 2019 North Carolina School Psychological Association Fall Conference. 

MTSS is an overarching framework that is used to address the academic and behavioral needs of students through a data based problem-solving approach. Similar to a public health model, this preventative framework for school-based service delivery is modeled within three tiers. 

“Previous research has demonstrated that many within the education field lack knowledge of MTSS and its purpose. This lack of knowledge leads to confusion and misuse of MTSS. The purpose of this study is to determine educators’ knowledge of MTSS and how it is being implemented within their particular school and/or district,” explained Yarbrough.

Money from a SAFE grant is being used as an incentive for research participation. Amazon gift cards were purchased to be randomly awarded to participants using a lottery system. So far, they have collected data from 283 educators via social media outlets. Once they reach their goal of 500 participants, they plan to re-analyze the data and prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Students were able to experience the process of applied research in the field of School Psychology. Because we are still collecting data, the major outcomes from this project have yet to occur,” said Yarborough.

Students participating in research with Yarbrough include Alana Smith, Morgan Brooks, Alisa Conrady, Shelby Spencer and Geena Mikesell. All are graduate students in the Master of Arts and Specialists in the School Psychology graduate program of which Yarbrough is the program director. Student Alisa Conrady additionally received a SAFE grant to support the project and Shelby Spencer received a WISE award from the Psychology Department, which supports graduate and undergraduate student research and travel.


About The SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Dr.Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology
Appalachian’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors seeking the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, as well as 80 graduate students in three master’s programs (experimental psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management) and the clinical psychology (Psy.D.) doctoral program. Learn more at

Compiled and written by Sophia Woodall and Ellen Gwin Burnette
June 15, 2021

SAFE faculty recipient Dr. Jamie Yarbrough, School Psychology Program Director, Department of Psychology. Photo by University Communications.
Published: Jun 14, 2021 7:40pm