Technology and behaviour analysis in higher education

Mickey Keenan, Giovambattista Presti, Karola Dillenburger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)


A key goal of higher education is to provide training that harnesses cutting-edge developments in both the theory and applications of a particular discipline. Currently in Europe, the up-take of the discipline of behaviour analysis is thwarted by a range of factors, the primary one being a hostile environment fuelled by misunderstandings of the science and its applications. In this paper, we offer suggestions for how to use behavioural as well as digital technology creatively to address this problem. We start with an overview of baseline conditions in which misinformation is rife, particularly in the field of autism interventions. We argue that, in advocacy for better services, there is a need for a more systematic use of behavioural technology. We call for the creation of a database of teaching gambits that provide illustrations of how to teach complex conceptual issues as well as guidance on running practical classes in the experimental analysis of behaviour. Furthermore, we examine the design of the discriminative stimuli used when explaining the natural science of behaviour, including the persistent reliance on the written word alone when discussing something dynamic like behaviour. We propose that behaviour analysts should embrace digital technology to develop these stimuli and we give some examples of how to harness this technology to develop an ecosystem that supports the coordination of behavioural services and the enhancement of treatment integrity. We consider how cloud-based archives can be used to keep track of behavioural progress and provide a learning management system that might potentially work with social robots, iPads, and interactive walls. Finally, we summarize how these issues are directly related to making the science of behaviour analysis accessible and fit for purpose for students and service users in the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Behaviour Analysis
Early online date11 Aug 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Aug 2019


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