EDF5680 - Behaviour analysis: Concepts and foundations - 2019

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Erin Leif


Erin Leif

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (Flexible)
  • Second semester 2019 (Flexible)


This unit consists of four modules; Philosophy of Learning (Module 1), Principles of Learning (Module 2), Behaviour Consultation & Assessment (Module 3), and Professional Ethics for Behaviour Analysts (Module 4). In Module 1, students will be introduced to philosophical foundations of behaviour analysis. We will explore the history of radical behaviourism, compare and contrast radical behaviourism with other theories of learning and behaviour, and discuss the basic assumptions and core characteristics of the science of behaviour analysis. In Module 2, students will be introduced to basic concepts and principles in behaviour analysis, including reinforcement, motivation, and stimulus control. We will explore two functionally distinct types of behaviour, respondent and operant, and discuss how the environment influences each type of behaviour. In Module 3, students will learn to conduct basic behaviour assessments to inform the selection of treatment goals and objectives. Students will learn about (a) important considerations for selecting and defining target behaviours, (b) various strategies for measuring behaviour, (c) methods for assessing and improving the quality of measurement, and (d) tactics for constructing graphic displays of data. In Module 4, students will be introduced to the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board's Professional and Ethical Code of Conduct. We will explore professional and ethical issues in behaviour analysis, including our ethical responsibilities to clients, colleagues, supervisees, other professionals, the BACB, and society as a whole. We will analyse common ethical challenges in applied behaviour analysis, and discuss potential solutions.

This unit aligns with BACB 4th Edition Task List requirements.


Upon successful completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Identify the goals of behaviour analysis as a science, and explain behaviour in accordance with the philosophical assumptions of behaviour analysis
  2. Compare and contrast behaviour analysis with other theories of learning and behaviour
  3. Apply the defining characteristics of applied behaviour analysis to various interventions and teaching tactics to determine if they are behaviour analytic
  4. Compare and contrast respondent and operant learning, and the role of antecedents and consequences in each type of learning
  5. Describe and provide examples of basic principles of learning, including reinforcement, punishment, extinction, motivation, and stimulus control
  6. Select and define socially significant target behaviours
  7. Identify the strengths and limitations of different measurement systems, select appropriate measurement systems for different dimensions of behaviour, and use continuous and discontinuous measurement systems
  8. Create graphic displays of behaviour
  9. Describe the BCBA's ethical responsibilities to clients, colleagues, supervisees, other professionals, the BACB, and society
  10. Identify potential ethical code violations, and describe strategies to remediate them.


Comparative essay (collectively 3200 words equivalent, 40%)

Case study (collectively 4800 words equivalent, 60%)

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload equals 288 hours per semester (24 hours per week of study). The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) is responsible for verifying that the Monash MEd in ABA course meets specific standards and rules. The ABAI requires that students participate in a total of 270 hours of direct instructional activities aligned to the 4th Edition Task List (across all units that comprise the verified course sequence). Coursework delivered via distance format is required to include verifiable methods that ensure student are in contact with the material for the time proposed. Therefore, participation in asynchronous and synchronous online learning activities is mandatory and must be verifiable. In EDF5680, students must complete 122 hours of direct instructional activities, comprising:

  1. Contact hours for flexible students:
    • 4 x 3 hour face-to-face workshops (12 hours), 16 x one-hour online tutorials, and 94 hours of online instruction over the semester; or
    • 4 x 3 hour online workshops (12 hours), 16 x one-hour online tutorials, and 94 hours of online instruction over the semester
  2. Additional requirements (all students):
    • 166 independent study hours

See also Unit timetable information