Utilising Applied Behaviour Analysis in Schools for Pupils with Special Educational Needs

Electronic versions


  • Laura Pitts

    Research areas

  • applied behaviour analysis, special education, autism/spectrum disorder (ASD), autism education, PhD, School of Education


Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) uses scientific principles of learning and behaviour to understand and develop socially significant behaviour. Interventions based on ABA have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing barriers to learning and improving outcomes for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Research on integrating ABA within UK schools for pupils with ASD is necessitated. This thesis explores the development and implementation of a school-based ABA intervention model which has been delivered and evaluated on-site within a UK special needs school. In this model behaviour analysts worked in collaboration with school-based teaching teams, together they designed and implemented function-based behaviour support plans and individual education programmes, utilised ABA teaching strategies, and promoted the generalisation of skills. This thesis discusses how this school-based ABA intervention model was practically and effectively implemented.
Chapter 2 looks at effective components of ABA-based skills teaching used within the model, and reviews some of the currently available literature on these components, including individual strategies and components of discrete trial teaching including, instructions, prompting, error correction, reinforcement, data collection, and mastery criteria. Chapter 3 presents the first study in the UK to utilise a control group study to compare the ABA intervention model to education as usual for young children with ASD. Chapter 4 presents the first study in the UK to evaluate the effects of the model across the key stages to look at older children and adolescents, as well as young children. Chapter 5 looks more closely at the under-researched area of mastery criteria and presents a study which evaluates the effects of differing mastery criteria on the maintenance of skills in children with ASD. In chapter 6 all three studies are discussed in light of their findings, implications for practice, limitations, recommendations for future work, and contributions to the field.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Bangor University
Award date22 Jun 2020