Teaching & Learning: Introduction to Communication & Behaviour

Applied Community Studies
Disability & Community Studies
Course Code
DACS 1256
Semester Length
2-15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
In this introductory course, students learn the principles of behaviour (e.g., ABC pathway ) and the elements of communication (e.g. methods and content). Emphasis will be on supporting communication (including augmentative and alternative communication) and understanding its connection to the function of behaviour.
Course Content

The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  • Communication is a means for transmitting and receiving information. It is essential to the growth and participation of all individuals and enables them to develop control and autonomy in their daily lives.
  • Individuals communicate using a variety of methods and modes. 
  • Augmentative and alternative communication includes all communication that supplements or augments speech or replaces speech.  Everyone uses many modes, which can be symbolic, non-symbolic or multifaceted.
  • Individuals are unique in how they send and receive information.  Practitioners can enhance communication exchanges by identifying, recognizing, respecting and responding to the dynamic communication methods used by the people they support.
  • Observing and listening are fundamental aspects of effective communication and are critical to assessing and enhancing communication with and by individuals who rely on augmentative and alternative methods for their interactions.
  • Behaviour is a form of communication.  A person’s actions serve functions for that individual. Why individuals act in a given manner may change from moment to moment.
  • The presence of a challenging behaviour can be communicating that the individual feels that they are not valued by others, that they have no choices or control and may feel that they do not ‘belong’.
  • Effective practitioners need well developed listening and observational skills.  These skills develop through practice and over time and are building blocks of effective practice.
Methods Of Instruction

F2F: Lecture,  Video, Guest Speakers, Group activities, Readings

Hybrid: Lecture,  Video, Guest Speakers, Group activities, Readings and online readings

Online: Video lectures, guest speakers, discussion forums/blogs; groups activities, online readings

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations:

  • Using an AAC system 
  • Create a topic board with picture symbols
  • Case Study         
  • Quizzes                
  • Personal and Professional Accountability
Learning Outcomes

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

1.  Experience and reflect on processes and content as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users and as communication partners.

  • Demonstrate awareness of the range of communication methods, abilities, functions and content in self and others.
  • Practice effective listening skills as a communication partner including observation and clarification strategies (e.g., ask for repetition, ask permission to compete sentences).

2.  Use decision-making process to develop, enhance and facilitate AAC communication opportunities, methods and strategies.

  • Identify, respond to, and respect individuals’ present and emerging communication methods (flexible and responsive support)
  • Consider using a wide range of augmentative communication methods and devices, including simple and more complex technologies (e.g., alphabet, BoardmakerTM or other symbol boards; picture and object systems (PCS, PECS); dedicated electronic speech devices; scanners or personal computers, iPads).

 3.  Analyze complex nature of individuals’ behaviour, considering the whole individual, context, history and possible multiple meanings of single behaviour

  • Recognize behaviour as a powerful form of communication
  • Consider influence of historical trends, person’s own history and the unique nature of an individual’s situation and abilities
  • Use context to understand purpose of behaviour (e.g. ABC pathway, functional assessement)

4.  Consider the behaviour principles underlying a functional behaviour assessment

  • Use an operant definition to describe and measure behaviour
  • Apply observation, recording, and information gathering skills to facilitate a FA Interview (e.g., quantitative and qualitative data collection)
  • Understand principles of behaviour (e.g, stimulus, response, reinforcement).
  • Create a behaviour hypothesis (setting events, antecedent trigger, behaviour, consequence and function) based on the information gathered and confirm or deny with observations.
  • Differentiate between Funtional Assessment and Functional Analysis.
Textbook Materials






No corequisite courses.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.