Teacher-Student Collaborations: Finding What Works


How do you Select Readings and other Sources for Teaching?

Whether it is a textbook, articles, videos, or a combination of those, selecting sources to introduce behavior analysis to undergraduate students is critical for teaching. Learning and teaching basics of behavior analysis may occur in various contexts (e.g., online, in person, or hybrid courses, practical settings). The process of selecting sources to teach an introduction to behavior analysis can be fun and challenging. Keeping up with the research and advancements to provide a contemporary view of the field, while keeping some classic references takes time and effort. Part of the fun of this endeavor is the social process of consulting with colleagues. Asking for recommendations and reading a few sources on this very topic is all part of the invisible labor of preparing a course.

Teacher scholars like Frieder et al. (2018) formalized the process of consulting with colleagues when selecting sources by surveying faculty and practitioners about essential readings for undergraduate students in behavior analysis. After recruiting 314 participants, the authors identified 227 participants who completed the surveys accurately. The results revealed 10 top articles and books considered essential for teaching undergraduate students. To give you an idea, the first three articles listed under the top 10 were:

  1. Baer, D. M., Wolf, M.M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91–97. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1968.1-91
  2. Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1994). Toward a functional analysis of self-injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 197–209. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1994.27-197
  3. Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1987). Some still-current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 313–327. doi: 10.1901/jaba.1987.20-313

Frieder at al. (2018) compared their findings with other publications focused on graduate-level education and found similarities and differences. While recognizing the limitations of their study, Frieder et al. cautioned us on how their results may not represent the broader behavior-analytic community thus the lists provided “should not be considered a fully comprehensive list of essential readings” (p. 333).

But Wait, then what is Essential for Undergraduate Education?

Behavior analysis is an evolving field, so teaching it must be infused with such dynamism. Thus, there is room for discussion, disagreement, and flexibility on what to include when teaching an introduction to behavior analysis. Pertinently, a growing number of behavior analysts are working toward creating sources on advancement on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in behavior analysis.

As part of an introduction to applied behavior analysis undergraduate course, I have included the book “Multiculturalism and Diversity in Applied Behavior Analysis: Bridging Theory and Application” edited by Brian Conners and Shawn Capell (published in 2020). In their review of the book, Jimenez-Gomez and Beaulieu (2022) concluded:

“Multiculturalism and Diversity in Applied Behavior Analysis is an important addition to the published works in behavior analysis. It is notable as the first edited book to highlight the topic of diversity in the field and to center diverse voices as authors. In addition, the text provides content that will expand readers’ knowledge across all three dimensions of cultural competence: awareness, knowledge, and skills. This book emphasizes the importance of considering cultural variables in the work conducted by behavior analysts and serves as an introduction to the topic in a manner that is accessible to students and seasoned behavior analysts.” (p. 643).

The quest for essential sources is part of the fun and challenge of teaching behavior analysis to undergraduate students. In this process, I remind myself that I cannot include everything that my colleagues and I think is essential. I also incorporate student feedback on the selection of sources (i.e., by asking them about what they learned from reading or using certain sources). A selection and frequent revisions of such selection are warranted.

When balancing classic and contemporary topics in behavior analysis, teaching about its history is essential. Lattal (2022) reviewed sources, topics, and experiments to teach a graduate course in experimental analysis of behavior (EAB). Although this blog is centered on undergraduate education, I find Lattal’s review to be helpful for undergraduate education in behavior analysis. For example, the section of Lattal’s article titled “Other Considerations in Teaching the History of EAB” (pp. 751-752) provides sources and ideas to develop activities and assignments for undergraduate students centered on the histories of unrecognized contributors to the history of behavior analysis. More specifically, Lattal stated, “Increasingly featured in history of psychology courses are the professional histories of women, minority group members, and members and movements beyond the shores of the United States” (p. 751).

Consider Open-Educational Resources

Nowadays, when considering sources for teaching you may also have heard and considered open-educational resources (OER). “Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.” (https://www.unesco.org/en/open-educational-resources)

Many institutions encourage and fund opportunities to create OERs as they are considered an inclusive pedagogical strategy that removes a financial barrier for students who may not have the resources to cover materials such as textbooks for a course (Howard, 2019). In this way, following Howard, OERs can be part of a strategy for inclusive teaching that increases recruitment and retention. One example of a project led by Rice University is OpenStax. Another source of existing OERs is the OER Commons.

Although content on behavior analysis have been identified in OERs, some of these sources misrepresent concepts (Howard, 2019). Howard also found  a void in open-access sources in behavior analysis. A call to action to create more open-access resources to teach behavior analysis is amplified by Howard:

“If first-generation, low-income, and ethnic minority students cannot persist and graduate because of the cost of textbooks, how can they hope to become future behavior analysts? If the field of behavior analysis values diversity and inclusion, access to high-quality and low-cost educational materials must be part of the solution” (p. 851).


Are you Ready for the Semester?

When I hear the question: “Are you ready for the semester?”, I feel a mix of anxiety and excitement. I think (and sometimes actually respond): “Ready? What do you mean by ready?”. Perhaps I tend to feel a little insecure because seriously, when can one really be “ready”?  But I am starting to feel more comfortable accepting that, although courses can be prepared (i.e., having a selected list of readings), changes emerge as we teach. This dynamic and reciprocal process of teaching brings me to share a story about incidental learning and selecting sources for an undergraduate course.

Cases of incidental learning deserve reflection and documentation. These are cases of uplanned opportunities and experiences that complement and enrich the learning environment. In the Fall of 2013, I was scheduled to teach a course called Learning and Behavior at Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA. After reading Susan Schneider’s newly published The Science of Consequences. How they Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World (2012), I selected this book for the course. One reason for my selection was its accessibility; it is an excellent source for students with no previous exposure to behavior analysis. It is worth mentioning that Schneider’s book was the winner of the Media Award from the Association for Behavior Analysis International. Another powerful rationale for selecting this book for the course was its low cost (relative to other textbooks) which would likely increase access to the book for students. For each chapter of the book, I selected one of the articles referenced by Schneider, so every week (or so) we would read and discuss one chapter and one article. I also prepared classes with activities based on information from the sources selected by Schneider for her book. As part of the course, I was also intentional providing information about the author to students. To do this, I included the author’s website: https://scienceofconsequences.com/

The Joy of Meeting the Author

Early in the semester, a few of students in the Learning and Behavior course who had browsed the author’s website (mentioned above) noticed that Dr. Schneider was conducting a tour for her book (our book) and that one of her stops was within driving distance from us (Augusta, GA; approximately 130 miles from Savannah). The students proposed a road trip to meet Dr. Schneider and learn more about the book. Now, this was not part of what I had prepared for this course. The road trip and meeting Dr. Schneider were not on the syllabus; these activities emerged during the semester, as a collective project initiated by students. After figuring out funding and logistics, the students, with my support, proposed the road to trip to meet Dr. Schneider to the entire class and it was embraced by all. We found ourselves meeting Dr. Schneider, in the flesh!

We attended her talk at a public library, and also had lunch with her! Dr. Schneider spoke to every student and signed each book (including mine, see image below). This experience was long-lasting and it infused the semester with joy. Years later, several of these students still reminisce (on social media) about the experience of meeting Dr. Schneider. The students were impressed by Dr. Schneider’s humility and accessibility; they admired and appreciated the work involved in writing and publishing a book like the Science of Consequences.

Scanned image of dedication written by Susan Scheider to Mirari Elcoro during visit in Augusta, GA on September 28, 2013. The message on the image reads: “Mirari: It’s wonderful to share this science with you. Thank you for class such a long way to see my talk! Best regards, Susan M. Schneider. Augusta, GA 9-28-13”.

A similar unplanned visit from an author happened a few years later with an undergraduate laboratory group. We were reading Beyond the Box B. F. Skinner’s Technology of Behavior from Laboatory to Life, 1950s-1970s (2009) by Alexandra Rutherford. Incidentally, I met Dr. Rutherford at a conference, shared that we were reading her book, and asked if she would visit our class remotely. When I came back from the conference an announced this wonderful opportunity (that was also not on the syllabus) the student were excited. Dare I say that after announcing this visit, students became more deeply involved with the content of the book and the author. The conversation between Dr. Rutherford and the students occurred when we finished reading the book. Her visit to our class was a delightful and undistinguishable from the level of a graduate class.

When considering and selecting sources, interacting with the authors, if possible, can enrich the learning environment. Although planning a visit may be effortful and costly, it is worth considering and certainly more accessible with remote tools. Fortunately, in my experience, authors have been graceful and generous with their availability and time for undergraduate students. Thank you, authors! Also, collaborations between instructors and students is essential in finding what works.


Conners, B. M., & Capell, S. T. (2020). Multiculturalism and diversity in applied behavior analysis: Bridging theory and application. Routledge.

Frieder, J.E., Zayac, R.M., Ratkos, T. et al. (2018). Essential readings for undergraduate students in behavior analysis: A survey of behavior analytic faculty and practitioners. Behavior Analysis in Practice 11, 327–333 https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-018-0260-x

Howard V. J. (2019). Open educational resources in behavior analysis. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 12(4), 839–853. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-019-00371-4

Jimenez-Gomez, C. & Beaulieu, L. (2022). Review of Multiculturalism and Diversity in Applied Behavior Analysis, edited by Conners and Capell. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 55, 639-644. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.903

Lattal, K. A. (2022). Confluence of science and history in the experimental analysis of behavior course. Perspectives on Behavior Science, 45(4), 743–755. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-022-00348-9