For Dr. Cass Dykeman, becoming a professor was not only a dream of his, but something he says he was destined to do. Many generations ago, in 1542, a family member of his was a professor at Oxford University and ever since then there’s been more than he can count.
“It’s just the family gig,” Dykeman says.
Dykeman is a full Professor of Counseling in Oregon State University’s College of Education. He is a third-generation Oregonian on his father’s side and a fourth-generation Oregonian on his mother’s side. More notably, he’s anticipating moving to the top spot for the most completed dissertations of all time at Oregon State.
“The number of people I’ve been able to help obtain a doctorate at OSU is my biggest accomplishment. The joy of it is that those people will go out and train others, so the influence you have in the field is exponential through your doctorate students,” Dykeman says. “It’s been fun to watch them achieve their dreams.”
His research is focused on Corpus Linguistics, English for Academic Purposes, Bayesian Statistics, and online teaching and counseling methods. His primary focus is on how anxiety and depression impact learning. Dykeman says his fields of study have had a positive impact on his ability to teach his students.
A subfield of linguistics, English for Academic Purposes, looks at how English is used in academia and research. Dykeman teaches this to his doctoral students, as it’s something that isn’t taught in their undergraduate or master’s programs.
“None of my students grew up speaking English for Academic Purposes; if they did it’d be really weird. It’s something they have to learn, something they don’t know,” he says. “My research and research interests have changed how I teach writing because I now approach teaching my students how to write, as how you would approach teaching a foreign language.”
Dykeman’s past research includes the study of psychotherapy outcomes using single-subject design, an experimental research method. Looking toward the future, he is interested in the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in counseling.
“There’s far more need for counseling than there are human beings that we can train,” he says. “So creating robots that could take in text about anxiety or depression and learn from that and respond to the human beings along certain algorithms, could be of help with mental health issues independent of human interaction.”
He hopes that’s something he can pursue before retirement.
Throughout his years of work at Oregon State, Dykeman’s genuine love for teaching is what makes his job remarkable. He says starting with students who don’t believe they can do something, and helping them become accomplished in that, is the best part of being a professor.
“That’s the genuine joy. Helping them overcome their fears and doubts about what they can achieve,” he says.