The Shaping Skills Workshop

Would you like to be able to produce
faster learning and happier students? 

The Shaping Skills Workshop is a series of online courses that will help you improve your teaching skills. These classes are not your “typical” online courses. 

You will be an active learner.

Your instructor, Mary Hunter, will guide you through step-by-step activities as you learn core concepts, build your skills, and practice teaching more and more complex behaviors to human and animal learners. 

You’ll learn a “building blocks” approach to shaping. You’ll practice identifying and teaching prerequisite behaviors before moving to more advanced skills. At the same time, these classes will take the same approach with you, building your skills in a step-by-step progression.

What’s even better is that you won’t be learning alone. Instead, you’ll be part of a small, supportive community of students. Together, we will discuss concepts, help each other brainstorm and solve problems, and learn from each other’s experiences. 

As you work through each course, you’ll have the opportunity to privately submit short videos for instructor feedback, ask questions about the lessons, and discuss your insights and progress with the other course participants.

You can join our email list to be the first to know when registration is open for future classes.

Course Information

Course 1: Reinforcement Systems

In this class, you will learn what a reinforcement system is, the elements of a reinforcement system, and how to diagram and analyze reinforcement systems. You’ll use a shaping game called PORTL to explore the idea of the reinforcement system and to practice your reinforcement delivery and timing. In addition, you will design, build, evaluate, and improve a reinforcement system for an animal learner.

Prerequisites: None

** Follow this link to learn more and register for this course. **

Course 2: Foundational Skills for Shaping

You’ll learn a “building blocks” approach to teaching and practice identifying and shaping actions that make up more complex behaviors. As you complete exercises with PORTL and with an animal learner, you will practice designing optimal learning environments, capturing actions, and transferring actions. You’ll also practice evaluating your teaching and making adjustments.

Prerequisite: Part 1: Reinforcement Systems

Course 3: Merging and Expanding Behavior

In this class, you’ll learn how to create more complex behaviors. You will practice chaining smaller units of behavior to create larger behaviors. You’ll also complete exercises related to expanding behavior, raising the criteria for reinforcement, and building duration. In addition, you will continue learning how to analyze your training sessions and improve your training plans.

Prerequisites: Part 1: Reinforcement Systems and Part 2: Foundational Skills

Course 4: Shaping Laboratory

This is a project-based class that brings together the skills you have been learning and practicing in Parts 1–3. You’ll practice writing, implementing, and revising teaching plans for both animal and human learners. Our goal will be to create and implement teaching plans that create fast learning and happy learners.

Prerequisites: Parts 1–3

After completing this workshop, you will be able to: 

  • Deliver reinforcers fluently and efficiently while teaching. 
  • Design, evaluate, and improve reinforcement systems. 
  • Dissect a behavior, then write an objective and a teaching plan. 
  • Design learning environments that make certain actions very likely.
  • Transfer behaviors to new objects, props, or settings. 
  • Construct chains of two or more behaviors.  
  • Change your criteria for reinforcement based on your learner’s behavior. 
  • Teach a behavior using a plan you have written.
  • Create fast learning with minimal errors and maximum success.
  • Test and revise a teaching plan based on the behavior of your learners. 
  • Use video to assess and improve your teaching skills.

About your instructor, Mary Hunter

Mary Hunter earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 2008 and a master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas in 2013. Her master’s thesis was published in 2019 in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Mary owns her own animal training and consulting business in North Texas, working mainly with horses and dogs and their owners. She also serves as president of the Art and Science of Animal Training, a nonprofit organization that provides educational programs for professional animal trainers. 

From 2016-2019, Mary taught classes in the behavior analysis department at the University of North Texas as an adjunct instructor. This led to an interest in instructional design and course development. In 2017, she converted an upper-level undergraduate class into a completely self-paced, mastery-based course using Dr. Fred Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction (PSI). 

Mary’s research interests include studying the process of shaping and developing better methods for teaching both people and animals.


I’m really interested, but I’m not sure if this workshop is for me. How can I learn more?

Please contact us with your questions!

We would be happy to talk to you about whether these classes would be a good fit for you. 

Can I register for a course and make time payments?

Yes, time payments are available for these courses. Please contact us for more information and to register.

What is your refund policy?

A complete refund (less a $50 processing fee) will be available if requested on or before three days before the beginning of a class. No refunds will be available after this date.