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Registration for the Winter 2020 semester begins soon.  Watch your email for more details.
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Foundational Principles of Behavioural Analysis

Course Code: DACS 5121
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Disability & Community Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Online, Partially Online
Typically Offered: Fall
course overview

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.

Methods of Instruction

  • 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.

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.