Psy 443
For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | CTL | WKU 

This syllabus is a sample formatted for general information and to be accessible via the WWW. This sample is subject to modification for any particular semester although the general activities and requirements are likely to be similar. If you register for the course, you will receive the current version from the instructor.

Behavior Modification (Psy 443, 443G)

3 credit hours. Semester Offered
Western Kentucky University, Room Location

Web Site Syllabus: All course information located on the websites, including policies, is subject to being changed until the first day of the semester. Check the date at the bottom of the website for currency

Course Information

What does the course cover?

Catalog Description. An introduction to techniques of behavior modification. Both theory and application of behavioral techniques will be covered with special emphasis on their use in education, child rearing, clinics, and self modification.

What will I learn in the course?

Course Objectives. Upon completion of this course students will

    1. understand and be able to accurately describe behavioral principles, terminology, and techniques;
    2. gain a practical understanding of behavior modification by personally attempting to alter a behavior (self or pet) using appropriate techniques;
    3. be familiar with general applications of the scientific literature on behavior therapy;
    4. be thoughtful and ethical in the use of behavioral principles to alter behavior.
    5. Know how to present the results of data collection and to connect data to the literature.

Who is most likely to succeed in this course?

Persons who have

  1. completed the prerequisite of Introductory Psychology (Psy 100),
  2. are a Junior or Senior (by credit hours)
  3. with at least 6 credit hours in psychology. (Sophomores may be permitted if there are no graduate students registered for the course. No freshmen.)
  4. an interest in learning about behavior modification techniques.

Persons who do not satisfy these requirements do not have the prerequisite skills and knowledge to succeed.

This is a course offered in English to a North American audience. It is a course offered in a face-to-face format and sometimes via Interactive television. It does have additional technology components, typically involving the ability to find webpages on the Internet, to use E-mail, and to enter text in webpage forms. Other policies regarding Internet activities will be found on the Course website.

This course is an optional psychology class with regard to the psychology major.

Students with disabilities who require accommodations (academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids or services) for this course must contact the Office for Student Disability Services, Room 445, Potter Hall. The OFSDS telephone number is (270)745-5004 V/TDD.

Please DO NOT request accommodations directly from the instructor without a letter of accommodation from the Office for Student Disability Services.

For additional advising regarding this course, please contact me.

What materials do I need to succeed?

Required Text and Materials

    1. The text changes over time. Do not buy it until you have attended class and ascertained what the current requirement is. The last text I used was: Sarafino, E. (2001). Behavior Modification: Understanding principles of behavior change, 2nd Ed. NY: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 0-7674-1855. Available at the WKU bookstore ( Or call 1-800-444-5155 or 270-745-2466. There is a shipping/handling charge per book. You can buy with MasterCard or Visa. You can also order COD but there is an additional fee. Books are shipped UPS, usually within 2 days of placing the order.
    2. Additional materials are available at the websites listed below. Some helpful supplemental materials are available on the instructor's web page (see below for address). I oversupply information so you have many options and examples.
    3. A few sheets of graph paper for recording your data are necessary. Trying to draw a graph on notebook or typing paper will earn zero credit. If you are comfortable with graphing software you may use it. More information will be provided in class.
    4. Reliable Internet access is necessary. This means a computer and software that are capable of handling basic websites. As a general principle, I use materials which are capable of being viewed on equipment that is 2-3 years old. If I ever make an exception to this principle it would be only for materials that are optional and I consider it my responsibility to help you get that material in some form if you want it. (It is your responsibility to inform me that you want it and to cooperate in scheduling a session to obtain it). Your browser version should be within 1 or 2 steps of the latest release (not including Beta versions). Persons with AOL may encounter some problems using the AOL browser and are advised to use Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. AOL will tend to time users out and log you off.
    5. I will occasionally provide documents in Word (not Works) doc format or in rtf (Rich Text Format). You must be able to open these types of documents on your computer and print them. I will lean toward rtf which is universal.

Instructor Information

Instructor. Sally L. Kuhlenschmidt, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Phone: (270)745-6508; Office: Cravens Ground Floor, Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) Fax. (270)745-6145. Notice I'm not located in the Psychology department

Address. Center for Teaching & Learning, Western Kentucky University, 1 Big Red Way, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Office Hours. Office hours are announced each semester and can be held face-to-face, using the phone, or via chat room (arrange later in advance). Appointments outside of office hours are welcome. I am more than happy to make appointments. My position at the CTL sometimes prevents me from keeping designated hours as someone with a bigger title than mine may schedule a meeting for me. Please, please, please, leave a phone number or message if you call and cannot reach me directly. I will track you down! I often work in the evenings and weekends.

Times announced in class are for the Central Time Zone.

Web Pages. My home page (
My Behavior Modification links (
Blackboard CourseInfo Portal. ( This site is your portal to the Psy 443 Blackboard page, which is the primary source for information on Psy 443. Visit the above URL, read the instructions and select Login. Once logged in you will see a list of all courses in which you are enrolled that are also using Blackboard's CourseInfo websoftware. Select Psy 443 to enter this course. You will not have access until shortly before the term begins.

E-Mail. Contact information at this page. (I respond quickly to Email. It is probably the fastest means of reaching me. Educators are constrained by federal law from discussing individual grades in detail via insecure methods, specifically standard Email, without signed permission. Discussion of specific grades is best done by phone or in person.)

When E-mailing me, in the subject line type "Psy 443" to avoid being missed.

Course Policies

What happens if bad weather or the like interrupts the usual class activities?

Unscheduled Class Interruptions. Continue reading as per the syllabus. Forward your questions to me via course discussion board, email, fax, or phone. Distance Learning Classroom Rules: Sorry but no food, drink, tobacco products, small children, or nuclear submarines in these rooms.

What are the Grading Policies for the course?

Before preceding with the rules for the course, let me sincerely thank the many students who are conscientious and courteous while endeavoring to meet course obligations. Your efforts are noticed. It is these students that make the work rewarding. Thank you for being there.thumbs up

Rules are necessary to establish an even playing ground for everyone in the class. Occasional individuals need more assistance in understanding the boundaries of any system. It is easier for everyone to lay those limits out in advance.

I begin with the assumption that students are responsible for their own learning. It is of no benefit to you if the experiences are in my head and not yours. While I will make a reasonable effort to notify students in advance (e.g., in the syllabus), I assume students will periodically review the syllabus without my having to remind them. Students are also expected to actually be the person they represent themselves as being on all work.


How do I recognize and avoid academically dishonest behavior?

Plagiarism. Copying another person's work (in any form, including images, web pages, textbooks, etc., without giving credit is plagiarism. Copying the exact words and giving credit is still plagiarism unless you indicate which words are yours and which words are the other persons' by means of quotation marks. As a rule of thumb, do not copy more than three consecutive words. Rephrase any ideas into your own words. A copy machine can duplicate material. You are a scholar who must think about (rephrase) an idea to own it. Plagiarism will result in an F on the project. I check for plagiarism. The most common error is copying the author's words without using quotation marks. The most common reason for plagiarism that I hear is "the author expresses it better than I can." Well, you are doing the paper to learn to write that effectively. You won't learn it if you don't push yourself. Rephrase, rephrase, rephrase.

How many points is each assignment worth?

Grades are calculated from point totals for the course using 10% cutoffs (e.g., 90% and above is an A). (Grading is NOT done on a curve. Everyone in the class could earn an A.) For those registered for 443G (graduate section) an additional 100 points for a special project are possible. Grade divisions will also be by percentages.

  • Quizzes
  • Exam 1:
  • Exam 2:
  • Exam 3:
  • Final :
  • Project
  •  25 points 
  •  50 points
  •  50 points
  • 100 points
  • 100 points
  • 100 point

443 Total:

425 points

443G Project
100 points


What are the course assignments?

Assignments are devised to aid you in meeting learning objectives.

Participation and Quizzes

Class participation provides the practice needed to learn any new behavior. If you ask questions, then ambiguous information is clarified for you and your classmates. If you are anxious about speaking out, talk with me and I can probably provide some help.

For those who do speak up, thank you for your contributions. I consider class participation in assigning final grades when points fall on the border for a person. Ask your questions anytime during class.

Those who are paying attention throughout the class are rewarded with a very easy quiz given in unexpected class sessions. There are no make-up quizzes--the only choice is to be present the next time one is given. I am particularly inclined to reward those who are present at challenging times (e.g., after an exam). I do administer a few more than needed to earn the full points. The quiz points may come from in class quizzes or the completion of occasional exercises which will be judged on a completed/not completed basis. The point of these exercises is to enhance your understanding without increasing your stress level regarding performance.

What do I do if I miss a class?

The student is responsible for obtaining missed information from classmates.

A student who misses the first few days of classes may be dropped from the course. Do not assume the drop will occur without action on your part. If you intend to be dropped--take responsibility for seeing it done.


The core of behavioral approaches is measurement (observation). Measuring the behavior of interest is a means of identifying progress or (lack of progress) toward a goal and can serve as a motivator. Accordingly, your knowledge of the material and your long term retention of the same will be measured via exams. Because of the hierarchical nature of behavioral principles, each exam must include cumulative items and concepts.

Each chapter includes self-quizzes and review questions. Take a few moments to complete each of them as you read the chapters because the information they cover is very likely to appear on your examinations.

Evaluation methods incorporate material that occur only in class sessions. Students are responsible for material presented in videotapes, audiotapes or other media as well as discussion and lecture. Take notes. I do cover material not included in the text and I do test over that material. Remember, you are here to learn.

How can I most effectively and efficiently study?

According to the research, students do not realize that they do not understand the material. The most important thing you can do for improving your grasp of any material is to

  1. read a paragraph,
  2. look away and quiz yourself,
  3. look back and see if you were correct.
eyeglasses image

Without self-correction learning is impossible therefore step 3 is vital. If you have ever been shocked when looking at your score on an exam you now know why and how to prevent it in the future. More study tips can be found at my website for the course (listed above).

What about missed exams?

I have experimented with a variety of methods. I have found offering an alternative test to be unsatisfactory as the person is so distressed by the life stressor that they typically do very badly, compounding their pain. It works better for the student to put their effort into a later exam after they've had a chance to adjust to the trying circumstances.

Drive carefully, check your car tires, beg grandparents to stay healthy, get medicine at the first signs of ill health, set two alarm clocks but don't miss the exam date. I don't give make-up exams. I usually hear complaints about this, that it isn't "fair."

However, providing a make-up exam is not fair to those who arrive on time and prepared and are tested under common conditions. Each term there are students who forge ahead through terrible burdens without asking for special dispensation. If someone asks for special treatment I owe it to the others in the class to expect a certain standard of life difficulty and a particular level of documentation. It is not a sign of distrust of an individual but of maintaining trust with the entire class.

It is selfish to ask for special dispensation for any but the most exceptional circumstances. What are those special circumstances?

1. A personally life-threatening emergency (includes fever over 100 or being shipped off by military). I expect appropriate documentation. I will discuss other options with the student. The following are NOT life-threatening emergencies: Your best friend's relative dies; a cold (no fever); a hangover; a trip to Bermuda; leaving early to attend a wedding at Christmas; a flat tire. Life is about making choices. They are not always easy choices. Having to make a difficult choice is part of being an adult, it is not a sign of being mistreated. I hope no one has to make these types of choices in this class.

Business accepts as an excuse the deaths of grandparents, parents, children, or spouse with documentation so I'll follow the same model. Although I am very sympathetic you will have to bring me a newspaper obituary and funeral home card or confirmation from an established citizen, such as the minister, giving the date and time of the funeral and the relationship to you. I regret the inconvenience for those truly experiencing such a loss, but it is too commonly used as an excuse by a segment of the student population without a genuine funeral. This is fulfilling my obligation to your classmates to provide as level a playing field as possible. Once upon a time in small communities everyone knew everyone else. Today I have students all over the country and thus need separate confirmation.

2. The university chooses to approve certain types of absences.

If you meet one of the above 2 conditions your grade on the missed test will be the average of your grades on the other exams. You must take the final exam to receive course credit.

Course Project

To give students an opportunity to try the content of the course and to learn more in an area of special interest, students will conduct a behavior modification study using themselves or a pet as a subject. You may not do a project on a family member. See separate handouts on the project for instructions.

Graduate Student Project (For those enrolled in 443G)

Students taking 443G (graduate level) should formally meet/talk with the instructor within the first two weeks of the semester. We will discuss selection of a presentation topic and accompanying paper to be completed by the 12th week of classes (the first of November). The selected topic could be leading an already scheduled class, a theoretical issue in behavior modification, an examination of a particular treatment approach, a review of behavior modification techniques used for a particular disorder or cluster of disorders, or a biographical account of a prominent figure in behavior modification. This project will be worth l00 points. It must be approved in advance and involve references from professional psychology journals, not popular media or general public Web sites.

Rules for Projects

How do I avoid pressing one of the professor's "hot buttons?" Use some permanent device, such as staples or a 3-ring notebook, to bind products. Do not ever use paperclips or any similar clipping device. Do not use plastic clip folders. Do not expect me to provide staples. no paperclip image

APA Style. Any written product is expected to conform to the standards set forth in the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association unless my directions indicate otherwise. Some helps are available on my web site (see address above).


One of the goals of a college education is to prepare you to behave as a professional and to be successful in the real world. Most students will behave responsibly and thoughtfully with consideration for their peers and instructor. Thank you, I truly appreciate you. Some are still learning how to balance conflicting demands.

A significant portion of life success, particularly in today's society, rests on producing a good product on time. Timeliness is a hard skill to learn but worth the sacrifice. It is not fair to the students who are prompt to allow lateness without penalty. It is also not fair to the late individual to reinforce that lateness.

Materials due are to be handed in at the beginning of class time on the due date. You may always turn materials in early but get a signed note from me saying you did so. This simple precaution will protect you from my memory. Students are expected to keep a copy of their product.

Each day late is an additional letter grade reduced. Don't show up late the day the papers are due. (One day is counted for arrival after materials are collected in class). A product not given directly to me or a teaching assistant is a product not officially delivered. For example, if you put it in my box or give it to a secretary and I never see it--you are obligated to produce another copy promptly and the late penalties are enforced. Check that you have all the pieces before turning it in. I provide checklists to help you.

In the event of a family emergency or illness that prevents you from coming to class, express mail your project or ask a classmate to turn in your product. You have plenty of notice of due dates in this syllabus and may want to work ahead, just in case. The IRS, justice system, employers want your product, rain or shine, on time. So do I.

In the event of a protracted emergency a good faith effort to be on time (e.g., a handwritten copy to show the work is basically done) is a very good idea. In the event that you just can't manage to get it in on time, do still give me a copy. I can give you feedback before the next piece is due even if that element doesn't earn credit.

All students should read Internet Policies (

I get to decide the outcome of any loopholes in these rules. Most students are conscientious and responsible. Thank you, I do appreciate and notice your effort and courtesies to me and to your classmates.

Psy 443/G Schedule (This is a sample calendar for a fall semester)

I try my best to avoid changing this schedule but circumstances sometimes force a change. I will try very hard to avoid this and will announce any changes on the Website announcements and in a class session. Chapters are from the textbook.Worksheets are at the end of the particular chapter.

Date(s) Chptr Assignmnt Topic/ Suggestions for Project Activities
Aug 24, 26 1 Worksheet Intro;

What is Behavior Modification?

Aug 31, Sep 2, 3 2





Specifying Target; Chaining

Sep 7   Continue
Sep 9   Exam 1 50 points (Ch 1-3)
Sep 14, 16 4



PIEQ (Fig 5.2)

Basic Methods for Change: Antecedents

Reinforcement; Shaping; Schedules; Avoidance Conditioning

Sep 17, 21 5   Finish above and Extinction
Sep 23, 28 6 Worksheet Continue and Punishment
Sep 30, Oct 1   Worksheet Continue.

Perhaps meet with me on your project.

Oct 5   Exam 2 50 points (Ch 4-6)

Oct 12 7 DUE:


1-6, PIEQ

p. 152, Draft


Changing Emotional Behavior

Respondent Conditioning.

Wrksheets/PIEQ/Draft Grading: Complete/incomplete 7 quiz points.

Oct 14   TBA Work ahead in reading; do library work
Oct. 19, 21 8   Covert Methods.

Draft of Your Report

Oct 22 9   Program Design and Evaluation
Oct 26 10   Using Data.
Oct 28, Nov. 2     cat demo
Nov 4 11   Maintenance
Nov 5      
Nov. 9   Exam 3 100 Points (Ch 7-11)
Nov 11, 16





How do you know if it works? Research

Specialized Methods

Token Economies

GRAD Student project due.

Nov 18, 19 14   Behavioral Medicine
Nov 23 15 PROJECT DUE Cognitive Behavior Modification
Nov 24-26   THANKSGIVING-- Primary reinforcer Day
Nov 30, Dec. 2   Continue....
Dec. 7, 9, 10 16 Optional


Ethical Issues and Challenges.

Presentation: up to 10 extra credit points

Dec 14 8:00-10:00 am FINAL 100 points, emphasis on Ch 12-16 but also comprehensive. NOTE different time. (9-10 for E'town students).

Just In Case...

Special functions or Off-Campus Sites: Although I do not currently anticipate any trips, students may need or choose to make trips to off-campus sites in partial fulfillment of the requirements of this course in order to meet program accreditation standards.

The schedule and procedures in this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances (Altman, 1989).

Psy 443
For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | CTL | WKU 

Contact the author with comments or questions about this site by following the directions at this page (which will open in a new window.)

All contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.
Website created: June 1996. Page Created: August 28, 1999. Last modified: August 12, 2002.