PSYCHOL 6509OL - Learning and Behaviour

Online - Online Teaching 2 - 2020

How do we learn from the environment around us? In this course you will explore the theoretical foundations of learning and how they have been supported by research. We will also outline how this knowledge is applied to human and animal behaviour in a variety of real-world contexts.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 6509OL
    Course Learning and Behaviour
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Online Teaching 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Online
    Units 3
    Contact 1 to 2 hour online tutorial
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites PSYCHOL 6500OL and PSYCHOL 6501OL
    Restrictions Graduate Diploma in Psychology or Graduate Certificate in Psychology
    Course Description How do we learn from the environment around us? In this course you will explore the theoretical foundations of learning and how they have been supported by research. We will also outline how this knowledge is applied to human and animal behaviour in a variety of real-world contexts.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Lynn Ward

    Additional academic staff:
    Dr Tiffany Lavis
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Critically analyse major theories and debates within classic and modern learning theories
    2. Synthesise key principals of a variety of approaches to learning.
    3. Apply principals of learning theory to humans and animal behaviour.
    4. Communicate applications of learning theories to a variety of audiences
    5. Formulate research designs based on learning theories
    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
    This is a fully online offering. Students will require access to the internet to access course content and will be provided with curated, required and recommended readings and resources. They will use a telecommunications application (Zoom) to engage in online tutorials.
    Recommended Resources
    Textbooks available online via Barr Smith Library - relevant chapters will be indicated in the course.

    Mazur, J., E. (2016). Learning and Behaviour. United Kingdom: Routledge
    Passer, M. W., & Smith, R. E. (2018). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. Third ed. Australia: McGraw-Hill.

    Online Learning
    This is a fully online offering. MyUni will be used for all course materials, communication, links to curated resources, online tutorial support and assignments including submissions, feedback and grades.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This is a fully online offering. Engagement with course content is facilitated by online lectures, interactive online activities, curated readings and resources, and self directed study supported by weekly online tutorial sessions. There are 6 Weekly Modules with learning scaffolded across the modules to ensure that students develop deep discipline knowledge as well as the academic literacy, research skills and capacity to apply and communicate their understanding as specified for an AQF8 level offering.


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

    This course is a 6-week intensive, accelerated learning offering. Students should expect to spend around 24 per week engaging with the online content, in private study and completing the assignments for this course.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Weekly Module topics cover:

    1. An introduction to learning and learning theories:
    • Adapting to the environment
    • Habituation
    • What is learning?
    • The adaptable brain
    • Interdisciplinary work
    2. Classical conditioning: principles, constraints and applications:
    • Pavlov’s dogs
    • Principles of classical conditioning
    • Stimulus generalisation and discrimination
    • Higher-order conditioning
    • Biological constraints on learning
    • Applications: fear and anxiety
    3. Operant conditioning: principles; schedules of reinforcement & creating complex behaviours:
    • Thorndike and Skinner
    • Principles of operant conditioning
    • Types and schedules of reinforcement
    • Which has better behavioural outcomes: reinforcement or punishment?
    • Creating complex behaviours
    • Avoidance learning
    4. Applications of classical and operant conditioning:
    • Therapies
    • Health Contexts
    • Animal training
    • Business and marketing
    5. Social cognitive learning: principles and applications:
    • Tolman
    • Language
    • Bandura
    • Social learning and criminal behaviour
    • Using social learning for good
    6. Cognitive learning theories:
    • Expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies
    • Superstitious beliefs and illusion of control
    • Information processing theories
    • Constructivism


    Specific Course Requirements
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable. This course offers weekly online tutorials (1.5 hours each)
  • 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 Assessment Weighting Hurdle Requirement

    Course learning outcomes


    Check your understanding quizzes/activities

    Formative  0 No 1,2,3

    Assessment 1 (3 parts - 10% each)
    Short answer, free text and multiple choice   




    Assessment 2 (2 parts - 10% and 20%)
    Behaviour management plan (group task)
    Blog post (Individual task)

    Summative 30 No 1,2,3,4
    Assessment 3 
    Research proposal
    summative 40 No 1,2,3,4,5
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment # 1: 3 parts - Short-answer and MCQ; Due end of weeks 2,3,5).

    Assessment #2: Applying and Communicating Principals of Operant Conditioning: (30% Due end of week 4)
       Pt 1 (group submission: 10%).Groups prepare a classroom behaviour management plan for primary school-aged children.
       Pt 2 (individual submission:  20%).  Write a blog post on a specific topic (details available during the course). 

    Assessment #3: Research Proposal on the Application of a Selected Learning Theory (40% Due end of week 6).
       Prepare a research proposal for an academic audience based on a specific learning theory.
    E-Submission, feedback and grades via myuni. 
    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
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