AC0798 - Applying PBS in Practice

What will I learn on this module?

This module enables you to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and values required to lead the process of functional behavioural assessment and develop, implement and evaluate a behaviour support plan (BSP) to support the specific needs of an individual with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges. It includes learning activities related to functional behaviour assessment, an analysis of the social and physical environment as well as mediator analysis to understand the context for the behaviour and implementation of the plan.
You will develop skills in gathering appropriate history, establishing clear descriptions of behaviour and obtaining information about factors that may contribute to challenging behaviour e.g., communication, level of social, cognitive, emotional skills and abilities, and mental illness. You will utilise a range of assessment strategies, measures and tools e.g., checklists, questionnaires, interviews and observation. You will then evaluate their respective validity and reliability. You will interpret this data and use the 4-term contingency to generate a formulation as to the function of the challenging behaviour.
This module will enable you to lead the development and implementation of a BSP with a range of strategies designed to improve an individual’s quality of life and reduce the likelihood of behaviour that challenges. You will learn how to monitor and review the effectiveness of a BSP and address attitudinal, individual and environmental barriers to its successful implementation. As well as enabling you to meet the requirements of a Northumbria Award it will also enable you to demonstrate behaviour specialist, supervisor or manager competencies of the PBS Coalition Competence Framework (2015) nationally recognised as best practice in this field.

How will I learn on this module?

This module is provided via a blended learning approach which is a mix of e-learning, independent and guided study, face to face and supervised work based learning. A variety of teaching and learning strategies will be used. You will use an interactive e learning package with guided study activities and further reading to help you understand the process of functional behavioural assessment. You will observe simulated scenarios to help you understand how to collect data using a range of tools and will use practice-based learning with feedback from the PBS regional workforce and practice development manager to enable you to practice and develop the skills you have learned.
You will develop understanding of the use and value of case studies to assist your learning. You will explore, through exposure to simulated and actual multidisciplinary formulation meetings how this data contributes to the development of an individualised behaviour support plan specific to a person at risk of or demonstrating behaviours that challenge. You will lead the implementation of behaviour support plans and the review their effectiveness in practice through reflection with others members of the team providing support and adapting the plan to overcome barriers encountered.

A wide range of learning resources will also be available for you to access via the e-learning portal. This includes skills plus, which is a wide collection of learning resources to help you with all aspects of study, particularly helpful to those returning to study, and our exceptional library services which offers remote access to materials.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by the module teacher and PBS regional workforce and practice development manager who will guide your learning and assessment throughout the module. They have been involved in developing the e-learning materials and assessment exercises and will provide some of your face-to-face teaching and feedback on your progress. Support can be accessed face to face, by telephone or email. You will also have an allocated personal/guidance teacher who will provide advice and support in relation to academic, procedural, and (where desired and appropriate) personal matters during the programme of study you have enrolled on. You will have access to 24/7 generic IT support available via telephone or online, and support from the programme team in working hours with any specific IT issues related to the e-learning package. You will also have access to the full range of student administration and support services offered by Northumbria University which includes library and learning support outlined fully in the programme handbook.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

Please list below essential key text underpinning the module content and ultimately the learning outcomes:

Allen, D., McGill, P., Hastings, R.P., Toogood, S., Baker, P., Gore, N.J. and Hughes, J.C., 2013. Implementing positive behavioural support: changing social and organisational contexts. International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support, 3(2), pp.32-41.

Ashman, B & Beadle-Brown, J (2006) A Valued Life: Developing Person- Centred Approaches so People can be more included. London: United Response

Baker, P. (1998) The use of contingency diagrams in the functional analysis of challenging behaviour, Positive Practices, 3(3), pp. 17-21.

Carr, E. G., Levin, L., McConnachie, G., Carlson, J. I., Kemp, D. C. and Smith, C. E. (1994) Communication-based intervention for problem behavior: A user's guide for producing positive change, Baltimore, Paul H.Brookes.

Chaplin, J., Hastings, R.P. and Noone, S.J., 2014. Improving the quality of behavioural support plans through service development initiatives. International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support, 4(2), pp.14-23.

Donnellan, A. M., LaVigna, G. W., Negri-Shoultz, N. and Fassbender, L. L. (1988) Progress Without Punishment: Effective Approaches for Learners with Behavior Problems, New York, Teachers College Press.

Emerson, E. (2001) Challenging behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with severe intellectual disabilities (2nd ed.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

LaVigna, G. W., Willis, T., Shaull, J., Abedi, M. and Sweitzer, M. (1994) The Periodic Service Review: A Total Quality Assurance System for Human Services and Education, Baltimore, Paul H Brookes.

Lucyshyn, J. M., Dunlap, G. and Albin, R. W. (Eds.) (2002). Families and Positive Behavior Support: Addressing Problem Behavior in Family Contexts.Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

McGill, P., Clare, I. C. H., & Murphy, G. H. (1996) Understanding and responding to challenging behaviour: From theory to practice. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 1, 9-17.

Mansell, J., and Beadle-Brown, J. (2012) Active Support: Enabling and Empowering People with Intellectual Disabilities. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Mansell, J., Beadle-Brown, J., Ashman, B. & Ockenden, J. (2004) Person Centred Active Support: A Multi-Media Resources for Staff to Enable Participation, Inclusion and Choice for People with Learning Disabilities. Brighton: Pavilion Publishing.
Toogood. S. (2010) Interactive Training: Supporting people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities in meaningful activity. Brighton: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd.

O'Neill, R. E. et al.(1997) Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook (2nd ed.), Pacific Groves, CA, Brooks/Cole.

Sigafoos, J., Arthur, M. and O'Reilly, M. (2003) Challenging Behaviour and Developmental Disability, London, Whurr Publishers.

Willis, T. J., LaVigna, G. W. and Donnellan, A. M. (1993) Behavior Assessment Guide, Los Angeles, Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Critically analyse theory, concepts and principles underpinning functional behaviour assessment

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. Select, justify and evaluate methods of assessment and data collection in reaching valid conclusions about the function of a person’s behaviour.
3. Synthesise data to formulate behaviour support plans utilising a range of strategies
4. Critically evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of behaviour support plans

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. Address attitudinal, individual and environmental barriers to implementation of behavioural support plans through application and modelling of an appropriate value base for PBS

How will I be assessed?

Formative exercises
1. There will be learning exercises and short tests of knowledge and understanding as you progress through the e- learning package and workbooks. Immediate corrective feedback will be given from on-line tests. You will be invited to share your learning from workbook tasks with your work-based mentor /supervisor individually or within group learning sessions and feedback will be provided

2. Using case study material provided, collect data using agreed tools
LOs assessed- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Summative assessment

Using a case study approach based on someone you support (but ensuring they are anonymised) justify the methods of assessment used, synthesise assessment information and make conclusions (formulation) about functions of behaviour. Develop behaviour support strategies within a behaviour support plan, evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the BSP and explain how you addressed barriers to implementing the plan in practice. 3000-word
Tutor assessed – feedback and feedforward

MLOs assessed – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

2. Work-based assessment of identified competencies for behaviour specialist/supervisor/manager (PBS Coalition Competence Framework, 2015).
These will be assessed by the PBS regional workforce and practice development manager
Pass/ refer grade
MLOs assessed – 2,3,4,5


In order to undertake this module, you must be supporting a person or people at risk, or with, behaviour that challenges/and or supporting staff that


In order to achieve the Postgraduate Certificate in Leading Positive Behavioural Support you must also undertake AC7000 and AC0799.

Module abstract

This module will enable you to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and values required to lead the process of functional behaviour assessment (including data collection) informing the development of a behaviour support plan (BSP) for specific individuals. The module will enable you to lead the implementation of a BSP, monitor and review its effectiveness and address barriers to its use. It will also enable you to demonstrate the competencies required for behaviour specialists, supervisors or managers. The PBS Coalition Competence Framework (2015) is recognised as best practice for supporting someone with learning disabilities and challenging behavior. As such PBS competence is a future commissioning requirement for those who provide paid direct support. Doing this programme should improve your employability. The module is provided via blended learning with work-based support and assessment making it accessible even if you are distant to the University.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Part Time (Distance Learning)

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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