Module PRP-4030:
Thesis in Behaviour Analysis

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

60 Credits or 30 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Rebecca Sharp

Overall aims and purpose

This module constitutes the thesis component of a Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis or Masters in Positive Behavioural Support degree. Students will conduct a novel research project, during which they will collect, analyse and interpret data. They will present their empirical project in a formal written dissertation, and communicate the results of their research at a conference.

Course content

Students will gain an understanding of how research is conducted and managed. They will gain skills in experimental design, data collection, analyses and interpretation, preparing abstracts, and reporting results. Students will also learn the importance of and gain experience with verbally communicating their research.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Adequate demonstration of behaviour analytic skills but little in depth analyses. • Considerable basic understanding of the potential applications of the research. • Good knowledge of key concepts of the research area. • Evidence of original analysis. • Solid understanding of theoretical issues with few factual errors. • Clear evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Use of recent research perspectives. • The communication style will be precise and concise with minor typographical or other errors. • There will be good to very good referencing of primary source material where appropriate. • Coherent arguments, with limited synthesis or original interpretation. • Key research questions are adequately addressed, with good structure and little irrelevant material. • Well-structured presentation showing focus of argument and expression. • Appropriate experimental design, data collection, and data analysis. • Adequate review of the relevant literature. • Appropriate integration of proposed research and results with the relevant literature. • Appropriate interpretation of results with the relevant literature.

excellent

Comprehensive and accurate application of behavioural concepts to applied problems. • Depth of insight into theoretical and applied issues. • Evidence of thorough understanding of and/or original insights as to the potential applications of the research. • Comprehensive and detailed knowledge of key concepts of the research area. • Solid understanding and original interpretation of theoretical issues with no factual errors. • Excellent depth and breadth of understanding • • Clear evidence of critical analysis and insightful evaluation of theory and research. • Coherent arguments, with accurate and succinct synthesis and original interpretation. • Key research questions are strongly addressed, with clear structure and no irrelevant material. • Well-structured presentation showing focus and clarity of argument and expression. • Strong experimental design, data collection, and data analysis. • Thorough yet concise review of the relevant the literature. • Exceptional integration of proposed research and results with the relevant literature. • Well-developed and supported interpretation of results with the relevant literature. • The communication style will be precise and concise with very few typographical or other errors. • There will be comprehensive referencing of primary source material where appropriate.

good

Reasonably comprehensive application of behaviour analytic concepts to clinical practice. • Some basic understanding of the potential applications of the research. • Some original interpretation. • Some evidence of extensive and thorough study • Use of recent research perspectives • The communication style will be acceptable with likely some fairly minor typographical or other errors. • There will be good referencing of primary source material where appropriate. • Adequate knowledge of some key concepts of the research area. • Weaknesses in understanding of theoretical issues with multiple/major factual errors. • Limited evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Arguments are weak or underdeveloped, with little synthesis or original interpretation. • Key research questions are only briefly and superficially addressed, with irrelevant material and poor structure. • Weak presentation with disjointed structure and major APA format errors. • Weaknesses in experimental design, data collection, or data analysis. • Incomplete or superficial review of the relevant literature. • Weak integration of proposed research or results with the relevant literature. • Weak/flawed interpretation of results with the relevant literature.

Learning outcomes

  1. Show evidence of advanced knowledge behaviour analysis and conceptualise problems in behavioural terms.

  2. Demonstrate a high order of skill in the planning, execution and completion of a research project

  3. Evaluate critically the findings and discuss in the context of the existing literature

  4. Demonstrate understanding of data collection methods, experimental design, and data analyses methods appropriate to their study.

  5. Engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem-solving

  6. Able to present their study and results in a formal written thesis that is underpinned by research, analysis and arguments from evidence.

  7. Able to present their research and findings orally, in a conference setting.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
DISSERTATION Dissertation

Students will be required to produce a thesis written in the style of published behaviour-analytic research that is conceptually systematic and technological. The thesis should contain an introduction to the topic, a review of the existing literature relating to the topic, the methods with which the research or investigation was conducted, the results of that research, a discussion of the results and their bearing on the thesis statement and conclusions that can be drawn from them, and an overall summary of the paper.

90
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Conference presentation

Students will give a 20 min (15 min talk and 5 min for questions) presentation in a course conference. The audience will be comprised of other students, staff, and key stakeholders in the community (e.g., teachers, care home managers). Students will also be required to answer questions from the audience about their work. The talk must must accurately introduce & summarise the student's topic by highlighting the key elements of the research (including background, methods, results, and key conclusions).

8
COURSEWORK Abstract

Students will produce a conference abstract that would convince conference organisers that their work is interesting enough to be presented either in oral or poster form at their conference. It must accurately introduce & summarise the student's topic by highlighting the key elements of the research. It should be self-contained in that it does not require clarification from a talk or poster. The abstract should be aimed at an educated audience with wide-ranging interests in psychology.

2

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Private study – the student will design and implement a study in the field of behaviour analysis (empirical study, systematic or narrative review). They will apply for ethical approval, design the data collection method, collect the data, and analyse the data. Students will be required to review the literature to inform their study, and attend any other meetings or trainings required in applied settings in which their research will be conducted (e.g., induction, staff meetings).

572
One-to-one supervision

Supervision – Supervision sessions will be conducted individually and as a group (supervision time divided equally between individual and group supervision). Supervision will occur both onsite in the settings, and off-site (i.e., office-based).

20
 

Conference - The student will attend and give a presentation at a conference.

8

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.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • 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.
  • Understand and investigate the role of brain function in all human behaviour and experience.
  • Carry out empirical studies by operationalizing research questions, generating hypotheses, collecting data using a variety of methods, analysing data using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and present and evaluate research findings (under appropriate supervision).
  • 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.
  • Use a variety of psychological tools, including specialist software, laboratory equipment and psychometric instruments.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.

Understand the scientific underpinnings of behaviour analysis as a discipline

Resources

Resource implications for students

Students must be able to provide their own transport to and from the setting in which their research is being conducted.

Reading list

Core text:

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.): Pearson.

Johnston, J. M., & Pennypacker, H. S. (1980). Strategies and tactics of human behavior research. New Jersey: Laurence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Recommended text:

Bailey, J. & Burch, M. (2006). How to think like a behaviour analyst: Understanding the science that can change your life. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bailey, J. & Burch, M. (2009). 25 Essential Skills and Strategies for the Professional Behavior Analyst: Expert Tips for Maximizing Consulting Effectiveness. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bailey, J. & Burch, M. (2011).Ethics for behaviour analysts (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: