Behaviour Analysis (BEHV) 655

Self-Directed Behaviour (Revision 4)

Revision 4 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

View Previous Version

Delivery Mode: Individualized-Study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: BEHV 655 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for Athabasca University's PSYC 655.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Integrated Studies

check availability

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Self-Directed Behaviour is designed with the hope that you will learn something new, challenge yourself, have some fun, become a more effective self-manager, and put yourself in a position to help others to learn self-management skills. This course differs from most university courses because in it so much of the emphasis will be on you, the student. Essentially, the course seeks to apply psychological self-management principles to the conduct of your day-to-day life—or at least significant portions of your day-to-day life. Although we will touch upon different approaches to self-management, a consistent focus will be on collecting data about your own behaviour and on evaluating that data.

Issues of the self and of self-management are neglected in formal education. From kindergarten to graduate school, educational curriculum is focused on teaching students to master educational content and develop skills. In the early grades, students learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. Later they learn more advanced skills in those basic areas and are also expected to learn science, social studies, history, typing, and computer use. These are all essential subjects, of course, but they bear no necessary relationship to the selves of individual students. At no point in their formal education are students explicitly taught to define themselves in relation to the subjects and skills they study, although some students are lucky enough to have parents and teachers who encourage them to develop a sense of self, to define their personal objectives, and to evaluate the extent to which they achieve their personal objectives. The purpose of this course is to help you to broaden your understanding of self-management principles and to teach you practical self-management skills.

Course Outline

Behaviour Analysis 655 Self-Directed Behaviour consists of six units.

  • Unit 1: Self-Direction and Self-Experimentation as a Way of Life
  • Unit 2: Behavioural Self-Management
  • Unit 3: Cognitive Self-Regulation I
  • Unit 4: Cognitive Self-Regulation II
  • Unit 5: Emotional Self-Regulation
  • Unit 6: Self-Management in Counselling

The 18-week schedule as posted in the course home page is a guideline, however, it is preferred that there be a 15-week minimum for completing BEHV 655. The course project involves measuring and recording the students' own behaviour and to do this properly demands a reasonably extended period of time to take a baseline and perform an intervention.

Note: this course has an online discussion component and students are expected to have regular access to Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet software, which is necessary for the course project.

Course Objectives

This course provides you with the opportunity to

  1. understand the theory and rationale for using personal objectives; to discriminate between good and poor objectives; to balance personal objectives between personal interests and external demands; to write useful personal and career objectives.
  2. describe and apply self-observation and self-recording methods; to describe the connection between self-knowledge and the use of empirical self-observation and self-recording procedures; to describe, apply, and evaluate the basic principles of behavioural self-regulation.
  3. describe, apply, and evaluate the basic principles of cognitive self-regulation, including the influences of antecedent conditions, actions, thoughts, and feelings in the process of self-regulation; to describe the causes of unhappiness from a cognitive perspective.
  4. describe, apply, and evaluate the basic principles of cognitive self-regulation, including the influences of attributing internal versus external motives, engaging in activities that induce flow experiences; to describe the causes of happiness from a cognitive perspective.
  5. describe, apply, and evaluate the basic principles of emotional self-regulation including facilitating emotional intelligence and using relaxation and meditation techniques to reduce stress.
  6. describe and evaluate behavioural and cognitive theories of self-management.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Integrated Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
Unit Quizzes 18%
Personal Objectives Pass/Fail
Objectives Quiz 3%
Behaviour Graph and Peer Commentary 10%
Project Proposal 19%
Project Report 50%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for Behaviour Analysis 655: Self-Directed Behaviour include the items listed below. If you find that any items are missing from your course package, please contact the Course Materials Production department at Athabasca University as soon as possible. You may call Athabasca University, toll free, from anywhere in Canada or the United States at 1-800-788-9041 and ask to speak to someone in Course Materials Production (ext. 6366). Students in the Edmonton and Calgary dialing areas are asked to call the Learning Centres to connect with the automated attendant, and then dial the four-digit extension. You may send e-mail to, or write to Course Materials Production at Tim Byrne Centre, 4001 Hwy 2 South, Athabasca AB T9S 1A4.


  • Benson, Herbert, & Klipper, Miriam Z. (2000). The relaxation response (Rev. ed.). New York: Harper-Torch.
  • Russell, Bertrand. (1996). The conquest of happiness. New York: Liveright. (Original work published in 1930)
  • Watson, David L., & Tharp, Roland G. (2006). Self-directed Behavior: Self-modification for personal adjustment(9th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Athabasca University Printed Materials

Reading File: The Reading File contains selected articles from various sources that are required reading for this course.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page. There are also several online quizzes and discussion forums in the course.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, April 1, 2009.