Foundational Principles of Behavioural Analysis

Applied Community Studies
Disability & Community Studies
Course Code
DACS 5121
Semester Length
Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
This upper level course will introduce students to the science of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). The basic principles of operant conditioning including stimulus control, motivation, reinforcement, punishment, extinction, and schedules of reinforcement will be emphasized using examples of everyday behaviours. Students will also learn how these principles can be applied to persons with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Course Content

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

  • The philosophy of behaviourism is grounded in observable facts.
  • The overarching goal of ABA is to enrich the quality of people’s lives.
  • Before implementing behavioural principles and procedures on others, students of behaviour analysis should first be able to identify behavioural principles and procedures in their own everyday behaviour.
    • A personal understanding of ABA procedures and their effects on individuals informs subsequent professional ethical practice.
  • Single-subject experimental designs are the standard means by which research is conducted within the behavioural sciences and visual analysis in the standard means by which data are analyzed.
  • Students employ direct observation methods to collect data on their own everyday behaviour.
  • Students relate the causes of their own behaviour as embedded within environmental events.
Learning Activities
  • Lecture
  • Audio-visual presentations
  • Case studies
  • Data collecting one's own learning
  • Self-directed online learning
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
  • Final exam
  • Fluency tests
  • Journal reviews
  • Presentation or critical research paper
Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Define, differentiate, and provide everyday examples of behavioural concepts, principles, and procedures including reinforcement and punishment (and their schedules), extinction, shaping, discrimination and generalization training, programming and fading, modeling, and imitation.
  2. Summarize single subject research and visually analyze single-subject data including comparison withdrawal/reversal, and multiple baseline designs.
  3. Identify data collection methods and accurately collect data using event, outcome, interval, and time sample recordings.
  4. Plot data and make data-based decisions using the standard celebration chart.
  5. Select behaviours in need of change using the behavioural, reinforcement, stimulus control, and aversive control strategies.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:

  • Miller, L. Keith. (2006). Principles of Everyday Behavior Analysis (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Pryor, K. (1999). Don't shoot the dog! The new art of teaching and training. (Rev. ed.). New York: Bantam.
  • Course pack of assigned journal readings



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent 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

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for DACS 5121
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU EDUC 4XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Individual assessment
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) No credit
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC CYC 3XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) No credit

Course Offerings

Summer 2023