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Single Subject Research and Applications

Course Code: DACS 5123
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: Summer
course overview

This upper level undergraduate course builds upon the science of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). Topics focus on the use of the scientific method to evaluate behaviourally-based interventions and applications to modify human behaviour. Topics include single-subject experimental designs, variables (including dependent, independent and confounding), data collection methods and procedures, the graphic display of behavioural data, verbal behaviour, antecedent controls, maintenance and generalization. Topics are presented in context of best practices and contemporary professional ethics.

Course Content

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

  • Professional ethics and social validity are fundamental to the field of ABA.
  • Behaviour analysts employ a scientific approach to the study of human behavior and avoid pseudo- and anti-scientific approaches.
  • The field of ABA is predicated on research employing single-subject research designs.
  • The collection and interpretation of data underscore all aspects of ABA.
  • Assessing and changing problem behaviour is achieved via a functional and not a structural analysis of behaviour.
  • Changing dimensions of behaviour are the result of manipulating antecedent and consequence stimuli.
  • Setting generalization, response generalization, and response maintenance are considered prior to developing behaviourally-based interventions.
  • Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behaviour emphasized a functional approach to language acquisition and maintenance.

Methods of Instruction

  • Lecture
  • Case studies
  • Audio-visual presentations
  • Data collection and visual analysis of graphs
  • 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
  • Final test
  • Fluency tests
  • Journal reviews
  • Presentation or critical research paper

Learning Outcomes

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

Define and apply the ethical framework in which the behaviour analyst works

Differentiate science from pseudo- and anti-science approaches to working with people with developmental disabilities and apply the components of the scientific method to single subject experimental designs:

  • Distinguish key terms including:  baseline, baseline logic, stable/steady state responding
  • Outline pros and cons of the alternating treatment designs, changing criterion design, multiple baseline (including multiple probe and nonconcurrent) designs, and reversal designs

Display data and offer interpretations via visual analysis:

  • Constructs equal-interval, bar, cumulative and scatterplot graphs
  • Calculates split middle, and quarter-intersect lines of progress

Construct methods to assess procedural integrity and competency based training:

  • Identify factors that confound internal validity including subject, setting, and measurement confounds
  • Identify factors that lead to independent variable confounds including treatment integrity and treatment drift
  • Identify factors that influence external validity including direct and systematic replications
  • Identifies threats to measurement accuracy and reliability:

Implement and evaluate various antecedent and teaching strategies:

  • Define, differentiate, and offer applied examples of establishing and abolishing operations, ecological strategies, setting events, and the matching law
  • Develop interventions with consideration to generalization and maintenance.
  • Summarize Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957) text and its application to teaching language.

course prerequisites

DACS 5121, DACS 5122

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.