PSYCH 203 : Learning and Behaviour


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A consideration of the environmental factors that control and modify animal (including human) behaviour. Generally, an experimental laboratory approach is taken, and quantitative theories are stressed. Topics include: classical and operant conditioning, theories of reinforcement, the stimulus control of operant behaviour, behavioural analyses of problem solving, concept learning and language, choice, self control, remembering and experimental design. This course includes a compulsory laboratory component.

Course Overview

This course considers the environmental factors that control and modify human and non-human behaviour. We take an experimental laboratory-based approach with an emphasis on quantitative theories, and consider how basic laboratory findings can be used in the assessment and intervention of behaviour in natural settings. The lecture component of this course focuses on knowledge about the interaction between behaviour and environment, while the laboratory component focuses on data analysis, research, and communication skills. This course is highly recommended for those intending to study Behaviour Analysis at postgraduate level.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage I in Psychology or 15 points from BIOSCI 101, 103

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of some characteristics of the scientific methods and conceptual approaches provided by the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour for the study of learning and behavior. (Capability 3, 4, 6 and 8)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of some characteristics of Applied Behaviour Analysis and how basic learning principles are applied to behavior in the natural world. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7)
  3. Describe how the experimental process, data and quantitative models can contribute to our understanding of the interaction between environment and behaviour. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Use and evaluate research to support arguments. (Capability 4 and 6)
  5. Find relevant research in journal articles. (Capability 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Use research to support an argument. (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  7. Analyse and explain data. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Coursework 60% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Special Requirements

This course contains a compulsory laboratory component.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. For this course, each week you can expect 3 hours of lectures, a 2-hour tutorial some weeks, an average of 2.5 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 2.5 hours of work on assignments and/or exam preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Attendance is required at scheduled activities, including tutorials, to complete components of the course.
  • Lectures will be available as recordings. 
  • Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Prescribed Text: 
  • Davison, M, Jones, M, Elliffe D, Krägeloh, C, Podlesnik, C., & Cowie, S. (2016) Learning and Behaviour
 (available as a PDF on Canvas).
Recommended Text: 
  • Mazur, J.E. (2006). Learning and Behaviour (6th edn). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Halluse

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

We appreciate course feedback and incorporate suggestions into our course planning.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Assignments will not be accepted under any conditions after marks for that assignment have been released to students. Extensions must be requested before the due date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 07/11/2023 08:09 a.m.