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Graduate Courses in Applied Behavior Analysis

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Clinical Faculty from the DDDC teach graduate level courses in Applied Behavior Analysis through the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) at Rutgers University. Students are admitted to the course sequence if they possess a graduate degree in a related field, or if they are currently enrolled in a graduate program (although it need not be at Rutgers University).

Students who are not yet enrolled in a graduate program and would like to pursue a Masters Degree in Special Education with a Concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis should contact to apply, or call 848 932 3232.

The ABA classes are taught in a six course sequence and are approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as meeting the academic requirements necessary for sitting for the certification exam. For information about the BACB's other requirements for certification visit

Course Sequence

Each course is a prerequisite for subsequent courses. The sequence begins every fall and continues over a six semester timeframe.

First Year

Fall: Basic Principles of Behavior Analysis

Spring: Introduction to Analysis and Single Case Design

Summer: Ethical Issues in Behavior Analysis

Second Year

Fall: Applications of Behavior Analytic Principles: Changing Behavior

Spring: Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior

Summer: Advanced Topics in Behavior Analysis: State of the Art Teaching Strategies For Children With Autism And Related Disorders

dddc student working on augmentative communication

Basic Principles of Behavior Analysis (Fall)

Purpose: This course will present the student with an introduction to the basic principles of applied behavior analysis, learning theory and the fundamental principles of science and behavior. The course will also provide an introduction to the process of measuring and recording behavior. The application of behavior analytic principles will be illustrated through readings regarding the treatment of individuals with autism and related disorders.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. State the underlying assumptions of science
  2. Distinguish between behaviorism, the experimental analysis of behavior, and applied behavior analysis
  3. Describe the dimensions of behavior analysis
  4. Interpret articles from the behavior analytic literature
  5. Define key behavior analytic terms
  6. Describe respondent and operant conditioning models
  7. Distinguish contingency shaped from rule-governed behavior
  8. Describe methods for measuring and recording behavior

Introduction to Analysis and Single-Case Design (Spring)

Purpose: This course will introduce the student to the process of analysis utilizing baseline logic and how it applies to single-case methodology. The course will provide an overview of behavior measurement and recording, and visual analysis and graphing. Basic single-case research designs will be discussed, including general characteristics, strengths and considerations. General issues regarding internal and external validity will be discussed, as well as ethical considerations in research design and implementation. Students will practice applying the principles of research design and ethics to the interpretation of research literature.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. State the principles of baseline logic
  2. Describe the process of planning and direction behavior recording procedures
  3. Identify key features or visual data display and analysis
  4. Use and interpret Standard Celeration Charts
  5. Identify and describe advantages and disadvantages of basic single-case designs
  6. Discuss issues in planning, replicating, evaluating and disseminating ABA research
  7. Describe ethical principles as they related to ABA research
  8. Interpret research articles from the behavior analytic literature

Ethical Issues in Behavior Analysis (Summer)

Purpose: This course will familiarize the student with ethical issues and responsibilities of special educators and behavior analysts in the fields of education and mental health. Informed consent, due process, protection of confidentiality, and selection of least intrusive, least restrictive behavior change procedures will be presented and discussed within the context of case method. Ethical decision making processes will be emphasized, and the relationship between ethics and law will be explored.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. Know the core principles of ethical conduct
  2. Understand how these principles apply to ABA
  3. Understand frequent ethical problems encountered by behavior analysts
  4. Understand responsible conduct of a behavior analyst
  5. Understand their ethical responsibility to clients
  6. Understand how to ethically assess behavior
  7. Understand the application of ethical principles to individual behavior change programs
  8. Understand their ethical responsibilities as a teacher, supervisor, and co-worker
  9. Understand their ethical responsibility for the field of behavior analysis, their colleagues, and to society.
  10. Understand the ethics of conducting research
  11. Understand risk-benefit analyses

Applications of Behavior Analytic Principles - Changing Behavior (Fall)

Purpose: This course will present the student with information on the applications of behavior analytic principles in changing behavior. Specifically, students will learn to select behavior targets for change, to establish and strengthen behavior, and to weaken behavior. The application of these principles in changing behavior will be illustrated through a variety of books and articles, which highlight the breadth and power of ABA in this context.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. Select targets for behavior change
  2. Identify intermediate and ultimate outcomes
  3. Identify functional relationships
  4. Establish and strengthen behaviors using stimulus control procedures
  5. Establish and strengthen behaviors using shaping and chaining
  6. Establish and strengthen behaviors using reinforcement
  7. Weaken behaviors using extinction and differential reinforcement
  8. Weaken behavior using punishment procedures within ethical guidelines
  9. Manage emergencies
  10. Identify cultural and social issues relevant to behavior change procedures

Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior (Spring)

Purpose: This course will present the student with information on observation, data collection, and data interpretation in the context of assessing and treating maladaptive behavior. Students will learn procedures for conducting functional assessments, including indirect assessments, descriptive assessment (e.g., ABC data) and functional analyses (i.e., systematic manipulations. Students will also be taught to develop function-based treatments from assessment results. Specific single subject experimental designs will be discussed. The ethical considerations inherent in behavioral assessment, treatment and research will be reviewed.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. Identify the characteristics and rationale of different interview techniques
  2. Identify the characteristics and rationale of descriptive analysis
  3. Describe methods for gathering, organizing and interpreting descriptive data
  4. Identify the characteristics and rationale of different preference assessment techniques.
  5. Describe methods for conducting preference assessments
  6. Identify the characteristics and rationale for conducting functional analyses
  7. Describe various methods for conducting functional analyses
  8. Identify the rationale for linking assessment to treatment
  9. Identify common procedures used to match treatment to function based on functional analysis results
  10. State the ethical principles in behavioral assessment, intervention and research

Advanced Topics in Applied Behavior Analysis: State-of-the-art Strategies For Teaching Children with Autism and Related Disorders (Summer)

Purpose:This course will present the student with a sampling of state of the art teaching strategies for learners with autism and related disorders. Specifically, the student will develop a framework for conceptualizing verbal behavior and gain familiarity with the application of this framework to the education of children with autism and related disorders.

Furthermore, the student will develop an understanding of additional teaching strategies such as Fluency-based instruction, precision teaching, and activity schedules. The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the unique applications of a variety of ABA instructional techniques for learners with autism. The students should be able to conceptualize a comprehensive ABA program, and be able to select specific methodologies to address specific skill deficits.

Objectives: The student will be able to:

  1. Articulate the environmental variables responsible for language
  2. Interpret language assessment based on a behavioral analysis of language
  3. Develop language programming based on assessment results
  4. Identify the theoretical and practical issues involved in the choice of a communication
    system for learners with autism
  5. Describe teaching procedures appropriate for given language based skills
  6. Compare and contrast natural environment training with discrete trial training
  7. Describe Fluency-based instruction
  8. Describe precision teaching
  9. Describe the use of activity schedules to promote independence
  10. Identify the applications of Fluency-based instruction and its relevance for learners with autism

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