PSYCHOL 6509OL - Learning and Behaviour

Online - Online Teaching 6 - 2022

How do we learn from the environment around us? In this course you will be introduced to a variety of learning theories including, classical and operant conditioning, cognitive learning theories, and constructivism. You will learn the major principals underpinning the theories and evidence supporting them. A major focus of the course will be applying the conceptual knowledge you have gained to a variety of modern contexts.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 6509OL
    Course Learning and Behaviour
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Online Teaching 6
    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 be introduced to a variety of learning theories including, classical and operant conditioning, cognitive learning theories, and constructivism. You will learn the major principals underpinning the theories and evidence supporting them. A major focus of the course will be applying the conceptual knowledge you have gained to a variety of modern contexts.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Matthew Kaesler

    For all enquiries about this course please contact Matt Kaesler:
    Course Timetable

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

    Full details of each week's activities can be found in MyUni.
  • 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 principles 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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    This is a fully online offering. Students will require access to the internet to access course content, readings, assessments, and to engage in tutorials (via zoom). All required readings, including the online text-books, will be provided within course modules (relevant textbook chapters will be indicated in the course). If you wish to also purchase hard copies of the textbooks, please find the details below, in ‘Recommended Resources’. 
    Recommended Resources
    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
    Engagement with course content is facilitated by online presentations, interactive online activities, curated readings and resources, and self directed research and 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.

    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 24-25 hours per week engaging with the online content, in private study, attending online tutorials and completing the assignments for this course.

    Hours per Week:
    1.5 Hours - Tutorial
    1 Hour - Tutorial Preparation
    9 Hours - Assessment related tasks
    10 Hours - Engaging with online content including video presentations, podcasts, directed research activities, discussions, interactive tasks
    3 Hours - Readings
    Learning Activities Summary
    Weekly Module topics cover:

    1. An introduction to learning and learning theories:
    -Adapting to the environment
    -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:
    -Health Contexts
    -Animal training
    -Business and marketing

    5. Social cognitive learning: principles and applications:
    -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
    Specific Course Requirements
  • 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 Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcomes
    Check your understanding quizzes Formative open submisison 0% formative only 1, 2, 3
    Assessment 1: (3 parts - 10%
    1 short answer and 2 multiple
    choice quizzes
    Summative Sundays 11:59pm, Weeks 2, 3 and 5 30% (3 x 10%) 1, 2, 3
    Assessment 2:
    Behaviour management plan
    (group task)
    Summative Sunday 11:59pm, Week 4 30% 1, 2, 3, 4
    Assessment 3: Research proposal Summative Sunday 11:59pm, Week 6 40% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Submission is via MyUni. All assignments are due by 11:59pm on the Sunday at the end of the week in which they are due. A penalty of 5% per day of the total marks available applies for late submissions.

    Extensions are granted on medical, compassionate or other special circumstances recognised under the University’s Modified Arrangements for Coursework Assessment Policy. The completed extension application form and any documentation (such as a medical or counsellor's certification) should be emailed to the course coordinator and submitted before the due date. The course coordinator will consider the request in the light of the case made and University deadlines, and may grant an extension of up to three days.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment 1: 1 Short-answer and 2 MCQ (30% due end of weeks 2, 3 and 5)

    Assessment 2: Applying The Principles of Operant Conditioning (30% Due end of week 4)
    Groups prepare a classroom behaviour management plan for primary school-aged children. 

    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.
    Online submission 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

    Counselling for Fully Online Postgraduate Students

    Fully online students can access counselling services here:

    Phone: 1800 512 155 (24/7) 

    SMS service: 0439 449 876 (24/7) 


    Go to the Study Smart Hub to learn more, or speak to your Student Success Advisor (SSA) on 1300 296 648 (Monday to Thursday, 8.30am–5pm ACST/ACDT, Friday, 8.30am–4.30pm ACST/ACDT)

  • 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.