PSY 271


PROFESSOR :            Dr. Kirk M. Lunnen

CLASS TIME :           7:40-9:10 T TH

ROOM :                      HSC 150

OFFICE :                     HSC 135; ex7203

OFFICE HOURS :      MWF 9:30-11:30, or by appointment

E-MAIL :           


TEXT:                          Miller, K. L. (1997). Principles of Everyday Behavior Analysis . (3rd Edition). Brooks/Cole.




COURSE DESCRIPTION :  The course provides a survey of key areas of relevance in behavioral modification across a variety of settings.   As an introduction to behavior modification, the course tackles the fundamental goals and applications of behavior analysis as both a scientific and philosophical pursuit. 


COURSE OBJECTIVES :  The primary goals of this course are to provide a basic understanding of current and historical views on behavioral modification and increase students’ basic research, writing, and critical thinking skills.  Upon completion of the course the student should:


-           Demonstrate mastery of the fundamental principles and assumptions of operant and classical conditioning

-           Gain an understanding of research methods used to investigate behavioral modification strategies

-           Learn to critically analyze theories, research results, and treatments used in behavioral modification programs





Proportion of Grade

Date Due

Exam 1


27 Feb

Exam 2


17 Apr



9 May




Program Design Presentation


22-29 Apr

Application Assignment Paper


6 May


            Grading:  The course will use the following scale


                        GRADE           PERCENTAGE              

                        A                     93 to 100                    

                        A-                    90 to 92                      

                        B+                   87 to 89                      

                        B                      83 to 86                      

                        B-                    80 to 82                      

                        C+                   77 to 79                      

                        C                     73 to 76                      

                        C-                    70 to 72                      

                        D+                   67 to 69                      

                        D                     63 to 66                      

                        D-                    60 to 62                      

                        F                      0 to 59                            


            Examinations (50%):   There will be two midterm examinations and one final examination.   The midterms will consist of objective items and one or more essay questions covering material from the text and lecture covered since the previous midterm.  The Final will be comprehensive and will include both objective and essay items.   If you have a conflict with an exam you must notify me at least 24 hours in advance.  If an exam is missed, and I am not notified in advance, you will receive a zero for that exam.  Make-up exams will only be given for the following reasons:  (1) sickness—you must provide a note from the health center verifying your illness, (2) a family emergency/crisis/death—must be verified by the Dean of Student Affairs.


                Quizzes (10%):   During each class period you may be given a short quiz pertaining to the assigned reading material for the lecture that day.   The purpose of these quizzes is (a) to enhance your level of preparation for classroom discussion and (b) increase preparation for the midterms.   Quizzes missed due to unexcused absence will be given a zero (see exam policy listed above).  


            Program Design Assignment/Presentation (20%) :  Much of this class will focus on using learning principles to modify the behaviors of individuals.   However, this assignment will focus on behavioral modification strategies for groups of individuals.  Groups of 2-3 students will be assigned to act as a “behavioral modification team” to develop a behavioral intervention for a real-life social problem of their own choosing.  For example, groups may choose to tackle topics such as teenage smoking, recidivism of criminals, childhood obesity, political apathy, etc.  Creativity on this assignment is highly encouraged.   The group will create an intervention strategy for their selected issue and present their results in the form of a 20-minute oral presentation.   The presentation should include the following: (1) a description of the nature and relevance of the target problem, (2) a functional analysis of current procedures, (3) a proposal for modifying those procedures (e.g. intervention strategy), and (4) a method for evaluating the proposed program.   All team members must participate in all aspects of the assignment.


            Application Assignment (20%): Throughout the course you will be exposed to a number of behavioral assessment and intervention techniques.  This assignment will give you the opportunity to put some of these strategies to work in your own life!   We all have things about ourselves that we would prefer to change/improve.   For this assignment you will select an undesirable behavior that you would like to discontinue or a desirable behavior you would like to initiate.   The choice is completely up to you.   You will utilize behavioral modification strategies outlined throughout the course.  Your self-modification program must be of at least 6-weeks duration.   You will be required to draft a report of your behavioral modification program.  The report will be in APA format and will include a complete functional analysis of the target behavior, rational for behavioral intervention, summary of progress/set backs, and conclusion.  While no specific length requirement is being stipulated, more detailed and comprehensive reports will result in better grades.  The use of figures and tables is highly recommended.   


            Attendance:   Although attendance is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged and will be recorded.  Not only will you do better on quizzes and exams if you attend regularly but you will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of activities that will be included in your final quiz score.


            Academic Integrity:   Honesty is an essential part of your collegiate experience.   Individual students are responsible for doing their own work and for not taking credit for the effort and ideas of others in any way.   This includes plagiarism and/or cheating in any form.   This obligation is based on mutual trust and is expected of every student.  Cheating on any of the class requirements listed above will not be tolerated and will result in appropriate disciplinary actions.  See below:

Central to the purpose and pursuit of any academic community is academic integrity. All members of the Westminster community are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity, in keeping with the philosophy and purposes of the College.

Academic dishonesty is a profound violation of this expected code of behavior. It can take several forms, including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, misrepresentation of facts or experimental results, purposely altering the work of another (without that person’s permission) or engaging in any activity which attempts to alter or harm another’s academic standing.

Academic dishonesty in any of these forms will not be tolerated. Students who engage in academic dishonesty face penalties such as failure in the course involved or expulsion from the College. All instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of the College.

                                                                        Westminster College Online Student Handbook





Lecture Topics


21 Jan


Miller 1

23 Jan

History of Behavior Modification/Applied Behavior Analysis ( ABA )

Kazdin (1)

28 Jan

Respondent or Classical Conditioning

Watson & Raynor

30 Jan

Applications of Respondent Conditioning:   Relaxation & Systematic Desensitization

Goldfried & Davidson

4 Feb

Behavioral Assessment

Miller 2 & 3

6 Feb

Behavioral Assessment (Cont.)

Miller 4

11 Feb

Experimental Designs; Visual Analysis of Data and Examples

Miller 5 & 6

13 Feb

Reinforcement of Behaviors; Extinction of Behaviors

Miller 8 & 9

18 Feb

Differential Reinforcement of Behaviors; Shaping of Behaviors

Miller 10 & 11

20 Feb

Reinforcer Effectiveness

Miller 12

25 Feb

Schedules of Reinforcement

Miller 13 & 14

27 Feb

Exam 1


4 Mar

Application Assignment Workshop


6 Mar

Stimulus Discrimination; Stimulus Generalization

Miller 16 & 17

18 Mar

Programming and Fading

Due Date for Application Assignment Target Behavior

Miller 18

20 Mar

Imitation and Instructions

Miller 19; Bandura & Ross

25 Mar

Conditioned Reinforcers

Miller 20

27 Mar

Aversive Control; Punishment of Behaviors

Miller 22 & 23

1 Apr

Punishment (Cont.)


3 Apr

Other forms of Aversive Control: Negative Reinforcement

Miller 24

8 Apr

Critical Issues and Future Directions:  Behavior Modification in Education: Beyond Rewards?


10 Apr

Critical Issues and Future Directions:  Treatment Acceptability and Treatment Outcome; Ethical and Legal Issues

Kazdin (2)

15 Apr

Critical Issues and Future Directions:  Behavioral Health Psychology


17 Apr

Exam 2


22 Apr

Program Design Presentations


24 Apr

Program Design Presentations


29 Apr

Program Design Presentations


1 May

Open Date


6 May

Final Review Session

Due Date for Application Assignment Report


9 May

Final Exam 11:30-2:00