PSYCHOL 3026 - Learning and Behaviour

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

The aim of this course is to provide students with an intermediate-to-advanced understanding of learning theory and behaviourism with a particular focus on how these principles can be applied to the study of human behaviour. The course will introduce students to the principal theoretical foundations of behavioural research as it has been developed through studies of animals, and it will place these principles in an applied clinical context. Key findings on the neurobiology of learning will also be discussed, as well as applications of these findings to clinical disorders.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 3026
    Course Learning and Behaviour
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites PSYCHOL 2004, PSYCHOL 2005, PSYCHOL 2006 and PSYCHOL 2007
    Assessment Practical report, online quiz, tutorial attendance, written exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Paul Delfabbro

    Course Coordinator:
    Dr Paul Delfabbro: Ph - +61 8313 4936; Email -

    School of Psychology Office:
    Ph - +61 8313 5693; Email -

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1.    Be able to comprehend and apply the principles of associative and operant leaerning theories.
    2.    Be able to understand the logic behind experimental designs and how they test various theories.
    3.    Be able to apply learning principles to applied contexts, including clinical applications. 
    4.    Be able to communicate experimental results in a written report in a concise and clear manner.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    For additional information regarding required resources please refer to the relevant Program Handbook at the following link:
    Recommended Resources
    Bouton, M. E. (2007). Learning and Behavior: A Contemporary Synthesis. Sunderland, MA:  Sinauer Associates, Inc.
    Mazur, J.E. (6th ed, 1998). Learning and behavior,  NJ:  Prentice Hall.      

    Barr Smith Library – Psychology on the Web
    The Library is a major resource centre for students. The Research Librarian for Psychology, Maureen Bell, provides some useful information through the Internet at The website contains a list of databases, links to tutorials and help with searching methods.

    For additional information regarding recommended resources please refer to the relevant Psychology Program Handbook and the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available at the link below):
    Online Learning
    Students are required to access MyUni regularly. In addition to containing course materials, important notices and information regarding the course will also be placed on MyUni. MyUni also contains Discussion Boards, and students are encouraged to use these to discuss aspects of the course or any concerns they have.

    Student email
    MyUni also allows staff and other students to send emails to student addresses. It is important that students check their student email regularly.

    This course may also use MyUni for one or more of the following:
    •    Communication with students via Announcements and Discussion Board
    •    Submission of summative assessment
    •    Access to lecture recordings
    •    Access to tutorial materials
    •    Additional readings
    •    Self-directed learning activities
    •    Exam preparation materials

    Link to MyUni:
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be delivered through the following means:

    Internal only:

    2 Lectures of 1 hour duration each week for a 12-week semester
    3 Tutorials
    1 online quiz
    1 Practical exercise
    1 Final exam

    The course will not be available externally, although lecture notes can be accessed remotely for students who cannot attend every lecture. Lecture attendance will be expected for successful completion of the course.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Lectures: 22 x 1 hour = 22 hours
    Tutorials: 3 x 1 hour = 3 hours
    Online quiz and preparation: 15 hours
    Practical preparation: 56 hours
    Exam preparation: 57.5 hours
    Exam: 2.5 hours

    Total: 156 hours
    Learning Activities Summary

    Week Topics
    Week  1 Introduction
    Innate vs. learned behaviours
    Week 2
    Hull Spence Model
    Innate vs. learned behaviours
    Week 3 Causal reasoning 1
    Causal reasoning 2
    Week 4 Rescorla-Wagner model
    Practical briefing
    Week 5 Thorndike to Hull 1
    Thorndike to Hull 2
    Week 6 Attention theories
    Learning and the brain
    Week 7 Avoidance and learned helplessness
    Practical feedback
    Week 8 Occasion setting
    Neuroplasticity 1
    Week 9 Neuroplasticity 2
    Neuroplasticity 3
    Week 10 Clinical applications 1
    Clinical applications 2
    Week 11 Clinical applications 3
    Exam revision
    Week 12 Online learning
    Online learning

    Disclaimer: This program is provisional and subject to change.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning outcome(s) being addressed
    Tutorial attendance Summative 5% 3,4
    Online quiz Summative 10% 1
    Practical report Summative 40% 2,4,5
    Final exam Summative 45% 1-3
    Assessment Detail
    Tutorial attendance
    Students are required to attend tutorials. The tutors will record attendance.

    Online quiz
    A short assessment exercise will occur at the approximate midpoint of the course. This will take the form of an online quiz on MyUni for which students will receive feedback.

    Practical report
    The practical report will be briefed before the mid semester break. Students will have sufficient time to comprehend the experimental design and the results, and write the report. The practical report will be due in week 9.

    Final exam
    The examination will assess all of the course material covered in the lectures, but students will have an opportunity to select questions from a choice of options so that they can focus on their strengths and areas of interest. The examination will be 2.5 hours, and include multiple-choice questions, short answers and essays. The examination will occur in the usual University examination period.

    For additional information regarding assessment please refer to the relevant Psychology Program Handbook and the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available at the link below): 

    Submission dates for all assessment tasks will be posted on MyUni. The online quiz will be completed online on MyUni. The practical report will be submitted electronically via MyUni.

    Please refer to the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available at the link below) for details on submission process/requirements, penalties for late submission, the process of applying for extensions, and the staff “turn-around” timeline on assessments and the provision of feedback and policy relating to re-submission/redemptive work.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.