Research Methods in Applied Behaviour Analysis - TZRD9070

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 7 20 (10) checkmark-circle


The aim of this module is to develop competencies in the definition, observation, recording and analysis of behaviour and its controlling variables. While the module provides an introduction to research methodology more generally, the focus is primarily on those data collection methods and experimental designs used in applied behaviour analysis. Topics will include:
Observational methods of data collection
Reliability and validity of observational data
Practical approaches to checking and calculating reliability
Visual representation of data
Internal and external validity
Practical and theoretical aspects of using reversal, multiple-baseline, alternating treatments and changing criterion designs
Visual and statistical interpretation of single case data
Comparative, component and parametric analyses.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 45
Private study hours: 155
Total module study hours: 200


MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)
MSc in Positive Behaviour Support (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)
PG Diploma in Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)
PG Certificate in Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework - assignment – report - (2750 words) - 50%
Coursework -Worked problem (1,000 words) – 25%
Coursework – timed quiz (1 hr) – 25%

Reassessment methods


Indicative reading

Coolican, H. (2009) Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology. (5th ed.) Hodder & Stoughton.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E. and Heward, W. L. (2nd Ed.) (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall.
Johnston, J. M. and Pennypacker, H. S. (3rd Ed.) (2008). Strategies and Tactics of Behavioral Research. New York: Routledge.
Kennedy, C. H. (2005). Single-Case Designs for Educational Research. Boston: Ayllon & Bacon.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Effectively identify and utilise advantages and disadvantages of different methods of data collection (direct observations, rating scales,
questionnaires, interviews) and different research designs.
8.2 Access and interpret complex research and data sources.
8.3 Select and use critically appropriate methods of observational measurement to conduct a descriptive assessment from a range including:
frequency and duration recording; momentary time sampling; real time recording; whole interval recording; partial interval recording.
8.4 Select, use and critically interpret appropriate methods of data display including equal-interval graphs, bar graphs and cumulative records.
8.5 Discuss, at an advanced level, the factors that influence the reliability and validity of informant-based and observational data.
8.6 Describe and critically discuss the use of single-case experimental designs in applied behaviour analysis including the concepts of internal
and external validity.
8.7 Describe and critically discuss the appropriate use of single-case experimental designs from a range including: reversal; multiple-baseline;
alternating treatments; changing criterion

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Effectively integrate complex knowledge from different sources, including published work and personal experience.
9.2 Demonstrate the ability to understand, and communicate in writing, complex, abstract concepts.
9.3 Show a capacity to effectively prioritise the demands of work and study.
9.4 Use information technology to a high level (word processing, email, Moodle, e-journals and other online resources).
9.5 Conduct an in-depth recording of the behaviour of an individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities, requiring the identification,
definition and collaborative solution of difficult problems.
9.6 Conduct in-depth analysis and visual representation of quantitative data arising from direct observation.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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