Curriculum Guideline

Applied Behaviour Analysis: Research and Applications

Effective Date:
Course Code
DACS 5123
Applied Behaviour Analysis: Research and Applications
Disability & Community Studies
Applied Community Studies
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
60 hours: Lecture
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction
  • Lecture
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Group presentation
  • Reading assignments
Course Description
This upper level undergraduate course builds upon the science of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). This course focuses on the use of the scientific method to evaluate behaviourally-based interventions and the applications of concepts to modify behaviour. Topics include single-subject experimental designs, variables (including dependent, independent and confounding), data collection, the graphic display of behavioural data, verbal behaviour, antecedent controls, maintenance and generalization.
Course Content
  • Differentiating Science from Pseudo-Science:
    • identify components of experimental designs
    • differentiate between inductive and deductive reasoning
    • identify and describe the philosophies associated with several prominent pseudo-sciences used in autism treatment:
      • auditory integration therapy
      • diets (gluten/casein free, mega vitamin supplementation)
      • facilitated communication
      • chelation therapy
      • sensory integration therapy
  • Ethics and Social Validity:
    • define key terms (ethics, confidentiality, consent, risk/benefit ratio, social validity)
    • relate social validity to choice of assessment and target behaviours
    • identify factors required to support the client in their natural environments
  • Experimental Designs:
    • define key terms including:  baseline, baseline logic, stable/steady state responding, experimental designs
    • identify everyday uses of changing criteria designs in sport and health
    • identify pros and cons of the alternating treatment design, multiple baseline design, withdrawal design and the reversal design
  • Data Display and Interpretation:
    • identify key parts of a graph
    • construct equal interval graphs using standard graphing conventions
    • distinguish between bar, line, cumulative and scatterplot graphs
    • calculate a split middle line of progress
    • identify the uses and conventions of a cumulative graph
  • Procedural Integrity and Competency Based Training:
    • identify factors that confound internal validity including subject confounds, setting confounds and measurement confounds
    • identify factors that lead to impendent variable confounds including treatment integrity and treatment drift
    • identify factors that influence external validity including direct replication and systematic replication
    • identify threats to measurement accuracy and reliability:
      • observer drift
      • inadequate training
      • observer expectations
      • observer reactivity
  • Maintenance and Generalization:
    • define response and stimulus generalization and response maintenance
    • identify methods for teaching generalization and maintenance including:
      • select targets that meet reinforcement
      • teach sufficient exemplars
      • programming common stimuli
      • teach loosely
      • use indiscriminate contingencies
      • teach recruitment of reinforcement
      • teach self-management techniques
  • Antecedent Control Procedures:
    • define motivating operation (MO) and abolishing operation (AO), ecological strategies, setting events and the matching law
    • relate MO and AO to value altering effect and behaviour altering effects
    • identify common types of unconditioned motivating operations and their evocative effects
    • define conditioned motivating operations and their impact on behaviour
  • Teaching Techniques:
    • define stimulus equivalence, stimulus control and concept formation
    • define and identify components of incidental teaching (IT)
    • define and identify components of direct instruction (DI)
    • define and identify components of precision teaching (PT)
    • define and identify components of personalized systems of instruction (PSI)
    • define and identify components of discrete trial training (DTT)
  • Verbal Behaviour:
    • overview of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957) text
    • define and identify the mand, tact, intraverbal, echoic, transcription, textual behaviour and autoclitic
    • differentiate between verbal behaviour from non-verbal behaviour and between verbal behaviour and vocal behaviour
    • overview of the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS)
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Summarize the components of the scientific method
  2. Define and apply the ethical framework of the behaviour analyst
  3. Define and implement various antecedent and teaching strategies
Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Weekly quizzes
  • Mid term and final test
  • Fluency tests
  • Journal reviews
  • Presentation or critical research paper
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis. 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.


Course pack of assigned journal readings or TBA