PSY304 Human Associative Learning Lab report assessment guidelines Description: The purpose of this report is to further develop and refine your lab report writing skills by using the principles of an associative learning theory that we cover in class to modify behaviour. Students are required to prepare a laboratory report outlining the results of a behaviour modification program. Students will be required to select a behaviour they wish to modify, collect data outlining the operant (baseline) level of the behaviour, design and implement an intervention strategy (based on the principles of core learning theories), monitor changes in the behaviour post-intervention,

PSY304 Human Associative Learning

Lab report assessment guidelines

Description: The purpose of this report is to further develop and refine your lab report writing skills by using the principles of an associative learning theory that we cover in class to modify behaviour. Students are required to prepare a laboratory report outlining the results of a behaviour modification program. Students will be required to select a behaviour they wish to modify, collect data outlining the operant (baseline) level of the behaviour, design and implement an intervention strategy (based on the principles of core learning theories), monitor changes in the behaviour post-intervention, and critically evaluate their intervention. The results of this program are to be presented in an APA style laboratory report. Some guidelines are provided at the end of this document and will be elaborated on during tutorials.

Please note: for ethical reasons, the behaviour modification program should only be applied to your own behaviour and should not be used on someone else. It is strongly recommended that you consult with the lecturer/tutor before starting your assignment.

Word limit: 2000-2500 words (no +/- 10%), worth 40%

Due date and submission details: Friday of Week 11. All assignments should be submitted electronically through SafeAssign.

The key criteria you will be marked on are:

  • Understanding and critical review of relevant literature
  • Development of an appropriate behaviour modification program (and effective use of learning principles)
  • Interpretation and analysis of the results
  • Critical analysis of outcome of the program
  • Clear quality of expression. Use of written expression that is consistent with writing for psychology.
  • Correct use of APA style

A more detailed marking criteria sheet can be found below.

PSY304, 2019. Lab report.          Student name:
Criteria Content High Dist. (85-100%) Distinction (75-84%) Credit (65-74%) Pass (50-64%) Fail (0-49%) Mark
Plan Use of learning principles to shape & maintain behaviour.           10%
Title                   Clear, concise, and informative          
Abstract Aim & hypothesis/es           10%
  Method          
  Results          
  Conclusions          
Introduction General statement of investigation           20%
Definition of key terms / theories          
Comprehensiveness of review          
Critical thinking          
Link between theory, literature, & plan          
Aims / hypotheses          
Method Participant/s           15%
Design          
Materials          
Procedure          
Results Interpretation of baseline data (descriptive statistics)           15%
Interpretation of behaviour change (descriptive statistics)          
Tables / figures          
Discussion Statement of support for hypotheses / plan           20%
Explanation of results          
Results linked to previous research & theory          
Critical evaluation of plan (including non-trivial methodological issues)          
Future recommendations / continuation of plan          
Conclusion          
Presentation Writing style           10%
APA style / referencing          
OVERALL MARK / GRADE Marker:   (17-20)   (15-16.5)   (13-14.5)   (10-12.5)   (<10) /20
Comments:  


Some tips for the behaviour modification program.

(notes to guide tutorial activity)

Behaviour selection

  • Pick a modifiable behaviour. Choose whether you want to increase or decrease a particular behaviour. For example, you may want to increase: exercise behaviour, cleaning, studying, dog walking, yard work, vegetable consumption, etc. Or, you may want to decrease: number of cigarettes smoked, swearing, Facebook use, consumption of junk food, etc. Do not choose an overly complex behaviour or one that is currently undergoing (or needs to undergo) medical / psychological treatment.
    • I would recommend primarily using the principles of Operant Conditioning (with a focus on reinforcement rather than punishment) but other Learning theories would also be acceptable.
    • It is critical to note that this is a course on learning and therefore the focus of the report needs to be on quantifiable, observable behaviour rather than things like thoughts, feelings, motivations etc…
  • Clearly operationalise the behaviour to be modified (i.e., describe the target behaviour in measurable terms).

Baseline level

  • Measure the behaviour for at least 7 days (e.g., number of minutes exercised) and present this data as your baseline measure in the Results section.

Modification plan

  • Clearly outline the modification plan. For example, what sort of reinforcement will you use? On what schedule? How do you move between schedules of reinforcement? Are you shaping an existing behaviour or acquiring a new behaviour? What theories are you using?
    • It is CRITICAL that you outline the theoretical process (and link to literature) behind the elements of your plan.
  • Relevant literature should be used to support your claims (i.e., develop a strong rationale for your plan).
  • Details of the modification plan should be presented in the Method. Note that there are marks allocated as a separate criterion in the marking sheet for the quality of plan – but this not does mean that you have a separate section in the report called ‘plan’.

Success of modification plan

  • Measure the behaviour for at least another 7 days and make notes on how effective your modification plan was in changing the behaviour.
  • The success of the modification plan should be evaluated by comparing your pre- and post-test scores.
  • You can use the data record form at the end of the document or you can devise one of your own. You do not need to include this in your report – but you do need to present the data in an A-B figure, as per the eg on Bb. You can also use any extra statistics needed to describe your data (e.g., percentages). 
    • This data should be presented in the Results section.
  • You should also critically evaluate your plan in the Discussion section by considering factors that worked well, elements that needed revision, and what changes could be made.
    • You are not being assessed on the actual success of your plan (provided it was a reasonable plan), but rather how you interpret and critically evaluate the success (or failure!).

In summary, you are being assessed on:

  • Operationalisation of target behaviour: Description of target behaviour in measurable terms.
  • Description of the operant level of the behaviour (with supporting data).
  • Detailed modification plan (using theory-consistent terminology)
    • Effective use of theory & literature.
  • Analysis of behaviour change pre/post intervention
  • Critical evaluation of the intervention:
    • Environmental factors that elicit and diminish the behaviour (focus on environmental rather than psychological).
    • Modifications to the program based on above elements.

Example data collection forms

(Please note: you are not required to use these forms, you are welcome to design your own. You will need a way to collect baseline levels and behaviour during the modification).

Name: ____________________________________

Target behaviour: _________________________________

Baseline rate of behaviour

  Date Amount of target behaviour Observations
Day 1      
Day 2      
Day 3      
Day 4      
Day 5      
Day 6      
Day 7      
                                              Mean =             Standard Deviation = 

Behaviour modification data

  Date Amount of target behaviour Observations
Day 1      
Day 2      
Day 3      
Day 4      
Day 5      
Day 6      
Day 7      
                                             Mean =            Standard Deviation =

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