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Module PLP-4024:
Positive Behavioural Support I

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Stacey Hunter

Overall aims and purpose

This module explores behavioural approaches to promoting ordinary life outcomes for people with learning disabilities (but not exclusively). The module provides students with an understanding of positive behavioural interventions and systems, and an in-depth understanding of the methods used in functional assessments to lead to the development of function-based interventions.

Course content

The module will cover the definition and scope of positive behavioural support elements including conceptual issues and its application to a variety of settings. The module will address the issues of how organisational systems can operate to protect the rights of an individual and promote personal growth. Topics covered include behavioural conceptualisations of quality of life, the rights of vulnerable populations, and the application of behavioural systems such as active support and school-wide positive behavioural support.

Assessment Criteria


Threshold 50 – 59%

• Some basic consideration of the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Adequate knowledge of some of the key concepts in positive behaviour support only. • Weaknesses in understanding theoretical issues with multiple/major factual errors. • Limited evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Arguments are presented briefly, but they are weak with no synthesis or original interpretation. • Answer only briefly focussed on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure. • Weak presentation with disjointed structure and major APA format errors.


Excellent 70% +

• Depth of insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Comprehensive and detailed knowledge of positive behaviour support. • Excellent understanding and original interpretation of theoretical issues with no factual errors. • Clear evidence of critical analysis and insightful evaluation of theory and research. • Logically presented and defended arguments presented with coherent synthesis and original interpretation. • Answer focussed on question, with no irrelevant material and clear structure. • Well-structured presentation showing focus and clarity of argument and expression.


Good 60 - 69%

• Some insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Strong knowledge of key concepts in positive behaviour support. • Solid understanding of theoretical issues mostly free of factual errors. • Evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Coherent arguments presented, with some limited synthesis and original interpretation • Answer focussed on question, but with very little irrelevant material and clear structure • Well-structured presentation showing focus of argument and expression.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the definition and application of positive behaviour support.

  2. Critically analyse issues surrounding behavioural conceptualisations of quality of life, rights, employment, and service provision for vulnerable populations.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the on-site training and supervision procedures for staff working in practice settings.

  4. Describe procedures used in Identification of the Problem & Assessment, Behavior Change Systems, Implementation, Management and Supervision, accompanying the BACB Fourth Task List.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Functional assessment and intervention 50
Final Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Three interteaching seminar sessions across semester


Three hours lectures per week for 13 weeks

Private study 152

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Engage in effective teamwork for the purpose of collaborating on psychological projects.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Reading list

Core Text: Koegel, L. K., and Koegel, R,. L., and Dunlap, G. (1996) Positive Behavioral Support Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. 2nd Ed. (2007) Applied Behavior Analysis. NY. MacMillan.

Recommended Reading:

Carr, E. G., Dunlap, G., Horner, R.H., Koegel, R.L., Turnbull, A. P., Sailor, W., Anderson, J. L., Albin, R.W., Koegel, L. K. and Fox, L. (2002) Positive Behavior Support: Evolution of an Applied Science. Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions. 4, 4-16.

O’Brien, C. L. and O’Brien, J. (2002) The Origins of Person-Centred Planning. In S. Holbourn and P.M. Vietze (Eds) Person-Centred Planning: Research, Practice and Future Directions. Baltimore. Brookes.

O'Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Storey, K. & Sprague, J. R. (1997) Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behavior: A Practical Handbook. Pacific Grove, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Saunders, R.R. & Spradlin, J.E., (1991) A Supported Routines Approach to Active treatment for enhancing independence, competence and self-worth. Behavioural Residential Treatment. 6, 11-37.

Stancliffe, R.J., Jones, E., Mansell, J., & Lowe, K. (2008) Active Support: A critical review and commentary Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability 33, 196-214

Toogood, S. (2008) Interactive Training. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability 33 (3) 215-224

Totsika, V., Toogood, S., & Hastings, R. P. (2008). Active Support: Development, evidence base and future directions. In L. Glidden (Ed) International Review of Research in Mental Retardation. London, Elsevier Academic Press

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules