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PSYC12-250: Learning and Behaviour January 2021 [Standard]

General information

 This subject introduces students to the theories and fundamental findings from experimental research employing principles of associative learning. It provides students with an understanding of human and animal behaviour derived from Pavlovian conditioning, operant conditioning and observational learning. The subject allows students to develop a critical thinking perspective on issues and findings in learning research.


Academic unit:Faculty of Society & Design
Subject code:PSYC12-250
Subject title:Learning and Behaviour
Subject level:Undergraduate
Semester/Year:January 2021
Credit points:10

Delivery & attendance

Delivery mode:


Workload items:
  • Lecture: x12 (Total hours: 24) - Weekly Lecture
  • Tutorial: x12 (Total hours: 12) - Weekly Tutorial
  • Personal Study Hours: x12 (Total hours: 84) - Self Directed Study


Prescribed resources:
  • Russell A. Powell,P. Lynne Honey,Diane G. Symbaluk (2016). Introduction to Learning and Behavior. 5th, USA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning , 640. 13
  • American Psychological Association (APA) (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Edition). [Book: APA Publication Manual (7th Edition)] APA.
After enrolment, students can check the Books and Tools area in iLearn for the full Resource List.
[email protected] & Email:[email protected] is the online learning environment at Bond University and is used to provide access to subject materials, lecture recordings and detailed subject information regarding the subject curriculum, assessment and timing. Both iLearn and the Student Email facility are used to provide important subject notifications. Additionally, official correspondence from the University will be forwarded to students’ Bond email account and must be monitored by the student.

To access these services, log on to the Student Portal from the Bond University website as

Enrolment requirements

Requisites: ?


Assumed knowledge:

Assumed knowledge is the minimum level of knowledge of a subject area that students are assumed to have acquired through previous study. It is the responsibility of students to ensure they meet the assumed knowledge expectations of the subject. Students who do not possess this prior knowledge are strongly recommended against enrolling and do so at their own risk. No concessions will be made for students’ lack of prior knowledge.

All Psychology programs are accredited in the sequence presented and designed to provide students with learning and graduate outcomes in line with APAC accreditation standards. In order to meet these outcomes, students in the Undergraduate program should complete PSYC11, then PSYC12, and finally PSYC13 subjects in the order sequenced.

Restrictions: ?


Assurance of learning

Assurance of Learning means that universities take responsibility for creating, monitoring and updating curriculum, teaching and assessment so that students graduate with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for employability and/or further study.

At Bond University, we carefully develop subject and program outcomes to ensure that student learning in each subject contributes to the whole student experience. Students are encouraged to carefully read and consider subject and program outcomes as combined elements.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Program Learning Outcomes provide a broad and measurable set of standards that incorporate a range of knowledge and skills that will be achieved on completion of the program. If you are undertaking this subject as part of a degree program, you should refer to the relevant degree program outcomes and graduate attributes as they relate to this subject.

Find your program

Subject Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject the learner will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings and historical trends in learning research.
  2. Comprehend and apply a broad and coherent body of knowledge of Psychology, with depth of understanding of underlying principles, theories and concepts in the discipline, using a scientific approach.
  3. Apply knowledge and skills of Psychology in a manner that is reflexive, culturally appropriate and sensitive to the diversity of individuals.
  4. Analyse and critique theory and research in the discipline of Psychology and communicate these in written and oral formats.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of appropriate values and ethics in Psychology.
  6. Demonstrate interpersonal skills and teamwork.
  7. Demonstrate self-directed pursuit of scholarly inquiry in Psychology.


Assessment details

TypeTask%Timing*Outcomes assessed
Presentation Small Group Presentations Weeks 4, 5, 6. Plus written learnings from presentations. 30% Week 4 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.
Laboratory Report Behaviour change project due day of tutorial 35% Week 10 1, 2, 3, 4, 7.
Take-home Examination Examination questions released week 12 day of lecture, for submission 7 days later in week 13. 35% Week 13 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Pass requirement

Nil. However completion of all pieces of assessment to the appropriate standard facilitates success.

  • * Assessment timing is indicative of the week that the assessment is due or begins (where conducted over multiple weeks), and is based on the standard University academic calendar
  • C = Students must reach a level of competency to successfully complete this assessment.

Assessment criteria

High Distinction 85-100 Outstanding or exemplary performance in the following areas: interpretative ability; intellectual initiative in response to questions; mastery of the skills required by the subject, general levels of knowledge and analytic ability or clear thinking.
Distinction 75-84 Usually awarded to students whose performance goes well beyond the minimum requirements set for tasks required in assessment, and who perform well in most of the above areas.
Credit 65-74 Usually awarded to students whose performance is considered to go beyond the minimum requirements for work set for assessment. Assessable work is typically characterised by a strong performance in some of the capacities listed above.
Pass 50-64 Usually awarded to students whose performance meets the requirements set for work provided for assessment.
Fail 0-49 Usually awarded to students whose performance is not considered to meet the minimum requirements set for particular tasks. The fail grade may be a result of insufficient preparation, of inattention to assignment guidelines or lack of academic ability. A frequent cause of failure is lack of attention to subject or assignment guidelines.

Quality assurance

For the purposes of quality assurance, Bond University conducts an evaluation process to measure and document student assessment as evidence of the extent to which program and subject learning outcomes are achieved. Some examples of student work will be retained for potential research and quality auditing purposes only. Any student work used will be treated confidentially and no student grades will be affected.

Study information

Submission procedures

Students must check the [email protected] subject site for detailed assessment information and submission procedures.

Policy on late submission and extensions

A student who has not established a basis for an extension in compliance with University and Faculty policy either by 1) not applying before the assessment due date or 2) by having an application rejected due to failure to show a justifiable cause for an extension, will receive a penalty on assessment submitted after its due date. The penalty will be 10% of marks awarded to that assessment for every day late, with the first day counted after the required submission time has passed. No assessment will be accepted for consideration seven calendar days after the due date. Where a student has been granted an extension, the late penalty starts from the new due date and time set out in the extension.

Policy on plagiarism

University’s Academic Integrity Policy defines plagiarism as the act of misrepresenting as one’s own original work: another’s ideas, interpretations, words, or creative works; and/or one’s own previous ideas, interpretations, words, or creative work without acknowledging that it was used previously (i.e., self-plagiarism). The University considers the act of plagiarising to be a breach of the Student Conduct Code and, therefore, subject to the Discipline Regulations which provide for a range of penalties including the reduction of marks or grades, fines and suspension from the University.

Bond University utilises Originality Reporting software to inform academic integrity.

Feedback on assessment

Feedback on assessment will be provided to students within two weeks of the assessment submission due date, as per the Assessment Policy.

Accessibility and Inclusion Support

If you have a disability, illness, injury or health condition that impacts your capacity to complete studies, exams or assessment tasks, it is important you let us know your special requirements, early in the semester. Students will need to make an application for support and submit it with recent, comprehensive documentation at an appointment with a Disability Officer. Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Office at the earliest possible time, to meet staff and learn about the services available to meet your specific needs. Please note that late notification or failure to disclose your disability can be to your disadvantage as the University cannot guarantee support under such circumstances.

Subject curriculum

This lecture provides an overview of the subject requirements and introduces basic principles of learning and behaviour. Schools of behaviourism and applied behaviour analysis is reviewed. Key research methods terms, approaches to measurement and research design is reviewed.

This lecture outlines the development of involuntary reactions to specific stimuli. Mechanisms for differing classical conditioning are reviewed, including appetitive, aversive, excitatory and inhibitory conditioning. Classical conditioning differs according to the temporal arrangements between neutral and unconditioned stimuli. Who we are attacted to can be shaped by classical conditioning.

This lecture outlines major theoretical approaches to explain the complexity of classical conditioning: Stimulus-substitution, preparatory-response, and the Rescorla-Wagner theory. Practical applications of classical conditioning are described for understanding and treating phobias, aversion therapy for problem behaviours, and medical applications.

This lecture describes basic conditioning phenomena including acquisition, extinction, generalisation and discrimination. Classical conditioning is extended to consider the effects of mutiple stimuli presented simultaneously. Situations that can interfere with the process of conditioning are reviewed, and the mechanism by which exposure to unpredictable events can result in experimental neurosis is outlined.

Operant conditioning explains how the recurrence of a behaviour is dependent upon the consequences produced. The consequences may result in an increase (reinforcement) or decrease (punishment) in the probability of the behaviour re-occurring. Differing forms of reinforcement influence the extent to which behaviours are likely to continue. Shaping, the reinforcement of gradual approximations to novel behaviour, has an important role in training animals, and humans, engaging in complex behaviours.

Schedules of reinforcement refers to the response requirement that must be met to obtain reinforcement. The effects of differing schedules for behaviour acquisition and persistence of behaviours are outlined. This has important implication for understanding how some problematic behaviours persist over time. The practical importance of reinforcement is highlighted while describing the major theories of reinforcement.

This lecture outlines how the nonreinforcement of a previously reinforced response leads to a decrease in that response (extinction) and how the presence of a stimulus influences the tendency for an operant response to occur (stimulus control). Understanding extinction has important implications for assisting parents with children’s temper tantrums, while stimulus control is useful for enhancing study environments.

This lecture describes how negative reinforcement contributes to escape and avoidance behaviours, with important implications for the persistence of phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The use of punishment in suppressing problematic behaviours is described, highlighting the challenges to ensuring effective behaviour change from the administration of punishment.

This lecture outlines the role of choice in differentiating alternative sources of reinforcement, and how the amount of behaviour is often proportional to the amount of reinforcement (matching). Enacted behaviour is not always automatic and may be involve selecting a larger later reward over a smaller sooner reward (self-control). Self-control, as opposed to impulsiveness (selecting smaller rewards sooner over later larger rewards), contributes to the development of problem behaviours such as drug use.

Beyond direct consequences for behaviour, humans learn by witnessing another person's behaviour (observational learning). This has provided an understanding for how children learn aggressive actions from watching other people enact similar behaviours. Learning also arises indirectly through the exposure to rules (rule-governed behaviour). This lecture outlines the process by which observational learning and rule-governed behaviour develops.

This lecture describes the role of biological preparedness in how easily an organism learns certain types of behaviours, and how genetically based, fixed action patterns can displace learned behaviours. This facilitates understanding how some responses are learned quickly, while other learned behaviours dissipate. In contrast, comparative cognition refers to the study of information processing in various animals to understand differences in learning across species.

Summary of weeks 1-11 with exam tips.

Approved on: Nov 5, 2020. Edition: 6.1
Last updated: May 18, 2021.