PSYCH 751A/B : ABA: Concepts and Principles


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

Course Prescription

A study of the techniques and issues 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 techniques and issues involved with modifying human behaviour in applied settings. Appropriate and effective applications of scientific principles of learning will be taught. Topics will include the application of research into associative learning,reinforcement, punishment, extinction, avoidance, stimulus control, and choice.

Course Requirements

To complete this course students must enrol in PSYCH 751 A and B

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Distinguish between habituation, respondent conditioning, and operant conditioning, and define the terms used to describe each. (Capability 1 and 4)
  2. Describe various basic principles and phenomena that have been reported in the literature on respondent conditioning, and identify how various applications of respondent conditioning make contact with these basic principles. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  3. Identify the implications for Applied Behaviour Analysis of the operant class, higher-order operants, superstition, behaviour during extinction, and behaviour on simple-schedules of reinforcement. (Capability 1)
  4. Identify the factors that influence the effectiveness of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction, and identify behaviour-modification techniques that are alternatives to punishment. (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Describe how the basic-research literature on choice and behavioural momentum has been, and can be, applied in behaviour-modification interventions. (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Analyse behaviour in terms of three- and four-term contingencies of reinforcement, and use discrimination-training techniques involving stimulus and response prompting, transfer of stimulus control, instructions, imitation, and modelling to establish these units. (Capability 1 and 2)
  7. Identify how establishing operations, setting events, and contextual variables contribute to the control of behaviour and design interventions that use these factors. (Capability 1)
  8. Identify the ways in which classes of stimuli serving the same behavioural function (i.e., stimulus classes) can develop, and design interventions to facilitate concept learning and/or stimulus equivalence. (Capability 1 and 2)
  9. Use a variety of methods to assess preferences and reinforcers for individuals. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  10. Describe and use a behavior-analytic approach to language and rule-governed behavior. (Capability 1 and 2)


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

Learning Resources

 All students are advised to purchase from the University Bookshop a copy of the following book:  
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.).  Pearson.   

Special Requirements

Classes will consist of lectures, videos, role-play and demonstrations, and interteaching organised by academic staff and/or visiting speakers.  

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, you can expect 2 hours of lectures, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 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 03:17 p.m.