PSYCH 750A/B : ABA: Methods and Measurement


2020 Semester One (1203) / Semester Two (1205) (30 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A study of the underlying concepts and principles involved with modifying an individual human or animal's behaviour in some applied setting. Appropriate and effective applications of scientific principles of learning will be taught, as will pertinent topics researched in the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour. Topics will include the application of research into associative learning, reinforcement, punishment, extinction, avoidance, stimulus control and choice.

Course Overview

 A study of the principles and issues involved with the observation, measurement, and functional analysis of an individual human’s behaviour in applied settings. Particular emphasis will be placed on the rationale behind single-subject research designs, and their application to the evaluation of interventions aimed at modifying behaviour.

Course Requirements

To complete this course students must enrol in PSYCH 750 A and B

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Distinguish between Behaviourism, the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour, Applied Behaviour Analysis, and Behavioural Technology. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  2. Describe the defining characteristics of Applied Behaviour Analysis and identify the domains in which Behaviour Analysts work. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  3. Select define, and measure appropriately target behaviours that are socially significant for an individual or a group. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Use a variety of observation strategies to measure a variety of dimensions of target behaviours, and select the appropriate strategy given a specific dimension of the target behaviour (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Use and critically evaluate a variety of techniques for evaluating the reliability and validity of behavioural measures. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  6. Compare and contrast he rationale underlying small-N (or single-subject) research designs with that underlying large-N (or between-groups) designs, and identify how each approach claims internal and external validity. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  7. Describe hat is meant by baseline logic with reference to prediction, verification, and replication, and explain how reversal, withdrawal, alternating treatments, multiple baselines, and changing criteria components of designs apply these principles. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  8. Critically assess published empirical behaviour-analytic studies in terms of measurement, design, validity, technology, generality, and scientific contribution. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  9. Describe the rationale underlying, and use of, various methods of functional assessment. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  10. Describe Radical Behaviourism including its basic assumptions, the various ways in which it has been commonly misunderstood, and how it has been applied to various human activities with particular reference to private events. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Practical project 25% Individual Coursework
Quizzes 5% Individual Coursework
measurement project 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Practical project
measurement project
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Required texts: Students are advised to purchase a copy of the following book:
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. (2nd ed.): Pearson.
Additional text books – it’s always useful to consult for 2nd opinion:
Mayer, G. R., Sulzer-Azaroff, B., & Wallace, M. (2012). Behavior analysis for lasting change (3rd ed.). Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing. [Note: Some students in 2013 preferred this as their main textbook source]
Fisher, W. W., Piazza, C. C., & Roane, H. S. (2011). Handbook of applied behavior analysis. New York: The Guilford Press.
Recommended readings: These are ordered by level of complexity (top is easiest). Additional reading will be recommended for every lecture session.
Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2006). How to think like a behavior analyst: Understanding the science that can change your life. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Bailey, J. S., & Burch, M. R. (2002). Research methods in applied behaviour analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Baum, W. (2005). Understanding behaviorism: Science, behaviour, and culture (2nd ed.) Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Sturmey, P. (Ed.) (2007). Functional analysis in clinical treatment. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
Kazdin, A.E. (1982). Single case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. OUP.
Johnston, J.M. & Pennypacker, H.S. (2009). Strategies and tactics of behavioral research. (3rd ed.) New York: Routledge.
Sidman, M. (1960). Tactics of scientific research. Boston: Authors Cooperative.

Special Requirements

Students are required to participate in two onsite projects. Which will occur outside of teaching times. These projects will be worked around student availability. If students wish for an alternative this can be arranged.  

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 30 point course, 15 points per semester, and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course,per week, you can expect 2 hours of lectures in first semester, 2 hours in practical work in second semester, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital 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.


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.

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 against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

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 at

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.

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.

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 you may be asked to submit your 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. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 03:15 p.m.