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Personal profile


Hello, and thanks for visiting my page! I am Dr Erin Leif, a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

Research Interests

Educating for Diversity and Inclusion, and Enhancing Health and Wellbeing

One of my primary research interests involves the exploration of strategies for building the capability of educators, behaviour support practitioners, and other professionals to better support individuals with additional needs, especially children and young people with behaviours of concern who are most at risk for exclusion and social isolation. I believe all people can thrive when provided with the right supports. I also believe that each person is unique, and what works well for one person may not be the right choice for someone else.  I advocate for people to have a choice about how they want to be supported, and a voice is creating those supports. I am currently conducting research in the areas of inclusive education, positive behaviour support, multi-tiered systems of support, and trauma-informed behaviour support. Research questions of interest to me in this area include:

  1. What does it mean to deliver educational and behavioural support programs that are aligned to the social and human rights models of disability, and that promote inclusion? What does this look like in practice, and how can we do it well?
  2. How can we conduct functional assessments and create educational and behaviour support plans that are person-centred, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive? How do these plans enhance participation and quality of life, and reduce the use of restrictive practices?
  3. What does it mean to experience good quality of life? How can we assess and measure quality of life? How can we design supports for individuals that enhance quality of life in meaningful ways?
  4. How can we include the voices and choices of the people we support in all aspects of educational and behaviour support planning (no matter their age, method of communication, or support needs)?
  5. What does effective interprofessional collaboration look like when supporting individuals with high support needs? What are the barriers to effective collaboration, and how can we overcome these barriers? How does effective collaboration improve outcomes for all members of the team?

Transforming Teaching and Learning, and Shaping Digital Futures

In this area, I am particularly interested in exploring effective tactics for creating engaging, accessible, and inclusive online learning spaces in higher education, using the principles of applied behaviour analysis and universal design for learning (UDL). I am keen to understand how the incorporation of the principles of UDL in online learning environments in higher education may enhance student outcomes and satisfaction. I am also interested in exploring strategies for promoting active student engagement in asynchronous online learning environments. Research questions of interest to me in include:

  1. What does UDL look like in practice in online learning environments? How can we do it well?
  2. What are student perceptions of UDL? Does UDL effectively address the challenges that students face when participating in online learning?
  3. Does UDL enhance outcomes for students (for example, in the areas of retention, grades, and satisfaction with the learning experience)? How can we assess and measure the effects of the UDL framework on student outcomes?
  4. What are educator perceptions of UDL? What challenges do educators experience when using UDL in practice? How can the UDL framework be used in ways that are practical and efficient for educators?

In 2021, I collaborated with the Australian Disability Clearinghouse of Education and Training (ADCET) and the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) program to create Australia’s first free e-learning course all about the principles and practice of UDL: Universal Design for Learning in Tertiary Education

Teaching Commitments  

I joined the Faculty of Education at Monash in 2018 to coordinate the Master of Education in Applied Behaviour Analysis program. Applied behaviour analysis offers a comprehensive framework for both discovering and understanding the environmental variables that influence socially significant behaviours, and developing an effective technology for helping people overcome problems and become more independent, productive and happy members of society. At Monash, Applied Behaviour Analysis is not taught an intervention. Within the course, the outdated concepts of behaviour modification, normalisation, and compliance training are rejected. Rather, ABA is taught as a framework for delivering a variety of teaching and behaviour support strategies. The different strategies that are used within an ABA-based therapy program have all informed by research. However, simply delivering an evidence-informed intervention is not enough. Educators and practitioners who use the ABA framework must be well-versed in the process of evidence-based practice and must be able to draw on published research, their own clinical judgement and expertise, and the values, preferences, strengths, goals, and needs of the person they are supporting when designing an educational/behaviour support program. This in emphasised throughout the course and reflected in the types of assessments that students complete. This unique course provides a pathway for students who wish to become Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs), and has been verified by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board as meeting the faculty and course content requirements.

I currently serve as Chief Examiner for the following units:

Master of Applied Behaviour Analysis (5th Edition Task List)

  • EDF5683: Philosophical Foundations of Behaviour Analysis
  • EDF5679: Behaviour Assessment and Treatment
  • EDF5687: Evidence-Based Instructional Design

I also co-developed a short course in Positive Behaviour Support for educators, behaviour support practitioners, and allied health professionals. Positive behaviour support (PBS) is progressively being adopted by state and national governments as a preferential model to address behaviours of concern displayed by individuals with diverse needs. This program, comprised of three modules, will provide essential knowledge relating to the tiers of support offered through PBS: Engaging in Positive Behaviour Support Practices

In 2019, I received the Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, and in 2020, I received the Monash Graduate Association’s Lecturer of the Year award and the Vice Chancellor's Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (Early Career). 

Professional Service and Community Engagement

I am currently a full professional member of the Association for Behaviour Analysis International, the Association for Professional Behaviour Analysts, the Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia. I am also a member of the Association for Positive Behaviour Support Australia (APBSA) and the Australia and New Zealand Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behaviour Science (ANZ ACBS). I am a board member of the Australian Association for Behaviour Analysis, the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, and Autism Pathways. I am a member of the Association for Positive Behaviour Support Australia’s research network. I have served as a guest reviewer for the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, The Australian Psychologist, the Australasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education, Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention, the International Journal of Inclusive Education, the International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, and AERA Open.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

Research area keywords

  • Positive Behaviour Support
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA)
  • Severe Problem Behaviour
  • Inclusion
  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
  • Response to Intervention
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Online Learning
  • Inclusive Education
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Quality Of Life
  • Treatment Efficacy
  • Treatment Acceptability
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • person-centred care

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or