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Empirical Basis of Behavioural Techniques

Course Code: DACS 5122
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Disability & Community Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 10 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Online, Partially Online
Typically Offered: Winter
course overview

This upper level undergraduate course builds upon the science of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). Concepts include ABA definitions and characteristics, behavioural assessments, intervention strategies and outcomes, behaviour change procedures and systems support. All topics will be addressed within the context of current best practices and contemporary professional ethics.

Course Content

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

  • The application of ABA is grounded in the empirical sciences.
  • Assessment, including direct, indirect, and experimental methods, precede clinical applications.
  • Contemporary best-practice behaviour analysis is predicated on:
    • Peer-reviewed, evidenced-based research
    • Interventions that are thoroughly individualized via detailed assessment processes
    • A contextual “Goodness of Fit” with families, schools and other clients
    • Contemporary professional ethics
  • Behaviour analysts rely on direct observation in which trained observers personally see and immediately record behaviour.
  • Behaviour analysts determine the reliability and social validity of their data.
  • Applied behaviour analysis is the most evidenced supported clinical methodology for individuals with disabilities.

Methods of Instruction

  • Lecture
  • Case studies
  • Audio-visual presentations
  • Data collection
  • 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
  • Fluency tests
  • Literature reviews
  • Class presentation

Learning Outcomes

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

Select behavioural strategies grounded in best practices and informed by

  • Valid single-subject experimental designs
  • Data collection methods
  • Contemporary professional ethics

Conduct functional assessments using indirect, direct, and experimental procedures.

Measure behaviour:

  • Select clincially relevant dimensions of behaviour
  • Collect quantitative data and plot using equal-interval line graphs

Develop individualized interventions using reinforcement and extinction procedures

  • Implement preference assessment procedures using direct, indirect, and experimental methods
  • Modify schedules of reinforcement and provide appropriate uses
  • Define, differentiate, and select clincially appropriate applications of differential reinforcement
  • Craft individualized shaping, modeling, and chaining programs

Articulate situations in which punishment may be an ethically appropriate, best-practice, and clinically warranted procedure:

  • Define and provide evidence-based and ethically-derived examples of positive and negative punishment
  • Appraise the pros and cons of punishment

course prerequisites

DACS 5121


DACS 5112

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.