Common Curriculum for Graduate-Level Behavioral Classes

The demand for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) is growing, with many job openings across health care, education services, and social assistance. Behavior analysis uses empirically validated therapies from individualized and tailored treatment options in the single-subject design research literature. Behavior analysts do not believe in one-size fits all treatments, but instead, try to match everyone to their specific and individualized needs. Behavior analysis can be applied across a wide range of domains — from education and teaching to addiction, eating habits, and workplace safety.

Students enrolled in the Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis program at the University of Cincinnati (UC) will explore behavioral classes designed to prepare them for the process of pursuing a career as a BCBA. The curriculum not only teaches theories and principles of behavior, but it relates these concepts to real-world applications to help others, like students in need of academic support.

Skills Objectives of Behavioral Classes

Behavior analysts study the factors that influence behavior and work with clients to create goals, establish metrics for measuring progress and provide support during the process of pursuing those goals. The first step toward change is always direct observation. Behavior analysts consider the sources of influence on a client’s behavior. For example, peer pressure at school, family environment and cultural influences are factors unique to each individual. Behavior analysts evaluate an individual’s behavior in light of these influential factors and conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA) to determine what causes challenging behavior to occur, and what is minimizing appropriate academic skills.

Once problematic behaviors have been identified and assessed, behavior analysts establish goals, create metrics and design a behavior intervention plan (BIP). The BIP describes the client’s challenging behavior (aggression, property destruction, self injurious behavior etc.), identifies its causes and lists intervention strategies. Behavior analysts must monitor and adjust the BIP as needed, and every adjustment must be focused on achieving the end goal. Planning is a crucial skill for behavior analysts, and pivoting or adjusting the plan requires staying aware of the latest research and techniques and regularly monitoring each client’s progress.

The field of behavior analysis is impacted by legislation, regulations and court decisions, but it is also held accountable to ethical standards. The Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (the “Code”) developed by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) drew from the guidelines for professional conduct and ethical standards from multiple associations, including the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, the California Association for Behavior Analysis, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis. Board Certified Behavior Analysts must understand the importance of protecting client confidentiality and know how to adjust their own practices to meet the requirement.

Online Behavioral Classes

Students pursuing UC’s Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis take classes covering applied behavior analysis, ethics for behavioral practice and research, child development, frameworks for disabilities, and cultural and linguistic diversity. Upon completion, graduates are able to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination and apply their skills and knowledge in educational, clinical and residential settings. The following core classes serve as a foundation for the program.

Child Development. Students study the theories and empirical research related to child development from infancy through adolescence. The UC BA curriculum emphasizes the links among theory, research and practice to promote positive outcomes for all children. Students will review the existing literature on parenting behavior and its relationship to child development.

Academic Assessment and Intervention. This course focuses on child behavior in the school environment. Students study advanced techniques in direct and norm-referenced academic assessment for use in intervention planning and progress monitoring. Upon completion, students will have examined a wide range of research-based instructional and intervention practices designed to promote the development of academic skills and address problem behaviors in the school setting.

Functional Behavior Assessment. Essential to the field of behavior analysis, FBA is used to assess and analyze the causes of challenging behaviors. This course focuses on addressing behaviors of concern in a variety of settings and teaching alternative socially meaningful behaviors through effective interventions. Students will also explore how to help these individuals develop communication skills and social relationships.

Ethics for Behavioral Practice and Research. In this course, students will review the guidelines for professional conduct and ethical standards of the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis International and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Students will also study the ethical responsibilities of conducting research and ethical decision-making processes. Upon completion, students should understand the relationship between ethics and law.

Behavioral classes prepare students to work in a variety of settings. Graduates often go on to work in outpatient in home settings, or in treatment centers offering support to both parents and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. However, there are also opportunities to practice in educational services, among other professions. Though the demand for behavior analysts is growing, many choose the profession for the opportunity to impact the life of a child, adolescent or family — ultimately improving their clients’ quality of life by offering much-needed services ensuring that all behavioral health and safety needs are met.

Learn More

The online behavioral analysis program at the University of Cincinnati strives to prepare students for the process of pursuing careers in behavioral analysis. Learn more about UC’s online BA curriculum offerings.

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