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This slide show is part of a workshop given by Tom McIntyre (Dr. Mac)

Your “Do Now” Assignment

Visualize a behavior that is you would like to see change for the better. What exactly do you wish to see change? How would the behavior “morph”? What aspect or characteristic of the action should change?

Behavioral Recording: The collection of quantitative data regarding an identified behavior

Tom McIntyre, Ph.D.


SPED 702

  • Our class covered the 6 dimensions of behavior before moving to the following slides.

  • You can find this dimensions handout on this blackboard site list. Look for “BehRecord&DimensionHandout.ppt” below.

The Dimensions

  • There are 6 aspects or characteristics of behavior that can be changed (increased or decreased).

  • Behavior management interventions attempt to modify a dimension for the better.

  • Procedures have been developed to assess (measure) each of those dimensions.

  • In order to determine the degree to which our interventions have been successful, we continue to measure the dimension(s) of concern during and after those “experimental” periods.

Please turn to the page in your packet titled “Dimensions of Behavior”

Which Dimension?

The “traffic light” in the cafeteria changes color as the noise level in the cafeteria rises & falls.







Which Dimension must change?

Reducing the average number of misspellings (or increasing accurate spellings) on the weekly spelling test.







Multiple dimensions (but which ones?)

Which Dimension?

The track team’s sprinters are trying to reduce the time between the starting tone and exit from the starting blocks.







Which Dimensions?

For your fieldwork paper, you must record the style of praise used by your supervising teacher and how often each type is used.

Frequency & Locus

Frequency & Magnitude

Frequency & Topography

Locus & Magnitude

Locus & Duration

Collecting Data on the Dimensions: Behavioral Recording

  • Various measurement procedures have been developed to gather quantitative (numerical) information regarding a “target behavior” & the dimension that we wish to change.

  • This “data” provides us with valid & highly useful information for determining the:

    • severity or inadequacy of a behavior’s dimension

    • effectiveness of our interventions

3 Basic Types (The ones used most often in schools) ^

Frequency(short-lived behaviors):Tally marks made when

- action is witnessed OR

- “permanent product” is produced.

Duration(long-lived or variable-length behaviors):

Use stop watch to help determine

-average length of display of behavior OR

-% of time consumed by the behavior.

Interval:“Yes” or “No” mark depending on whether action:

– Occurred during any part of the observation period (Partial)

– Exhibited for the entire observation period (Whole)

– Happened at the exact instant that you glanced over to look for it

(Momentary Time Sampling –MTS,

a short cut procedure for duration recording…later).

Show visual depictions of the different interval recording procedures.

Now that we’re familiar with dimensions…

  • We can select which:

    • Dimension needs to change

    • Measurement procedure to use to determine:

      • Starting point or Severity/Inadequacy of the behavior

      • Degree of change in the dimension

Step by step… ^

  • 1.Define the behavior that you wish to observe.

  • 2.  Decide which type of recording is best suited to monitor the behavior.

  • 3. Decide when & whereto observe the behavior.

  • 4. Decide how long each observation will last (and how long the intervals will last if using interval recording).

    • 10 to 20 minutes is often adequate, but…

    • More time spend observing =more accurate results.

  • 5.Observe and collect data on the student's behavior.

    • Conduct multiple observation sessions in order to create a more representative profile.

  • 6.Compute rate/ratio of occurrence, & plot on graph.

  • 7.Repeat steps 5 & 6.

Defining the behavior

  • Be very specific.  Be certain that your definition is so precise that others would observe only what you had in mind.

  • Avoid “mind-reading” (whether there is “intent” behind the behavior). Identify “observable & measurable” actions.

  • Word the definition so that it tells the reader which actions comprise the behavior (versus what it isn’t).


  • One is standing when…

    • 1.

    • 2.

    • 3.

  • Flamingo standing?

  • Touching wall or table(or umbrella) ?

  • Hands on knees?

Dictionary & Thesaurus(My favorite dinosaur)

  • Teams: Describe how one particular student shows the following behaviors in his/her idiosyncratic manner: (Select two) Then determine dimension to change.

  • Pinching

  • Cursing

  • Tattling

  • In seat (What is minimum acceptable criteria?)

  • Echolalia

  • Gnawing on pencil

  • Spitting (versus drooling)

  • On task (versus “off task”)

  • Non-compliant.

Frequency ^

  • Used for “short-lived” behaviors (Less than 10 seconds?)

  • Make a tally mark when the behavior is witnessed during the observation period.

  • Compute average # of times the behavior occurs per some human designated time period. Huh?

    • Minute

    • Hour

    • Class period

    • Day

    • Week

    • Month.

*ACTIVITY (Figure Frequency)

Times witnessed =

# of time periods.

  • During the school week, Jane was sent to the office five times.

    1. Once every five minutes

    2. Once every five periods

    3. Once per day

    4. Like it says; 5 times per week.

Compute the Frequency

  • You witness the demonstration of the target behavior 12 times during a 48 minute class period. How often does the behavior erupt? (use basic division, not formula)

Frequency Recording(Use the “Joe” video clip found on BehaviorAdvisor.com inside the button titled “Free Podcasts & Videos”)

  • Situation… Joe, known for his “passive aggressive” behavior, once again befuddles & angers a teacher. This vignette can be used for many other purposes, but it does give us the opportunity to conduct a “Frequency count”.

  • How many times does the teacher engage in “hesitation behavior”?

  • “Hesitation” is any time the teacher says

    “Uh” or “Um”.

    (Can’t use clip in Canada…)

Clicker: Joe: How many “hesitation” incidents were observed?

A. 6

B. 7

C. 8

D. 9

E. 10

F. 11 or more

Duration ^

  • Using a stop watch, for each behavior display:

    • Start the watch when the behavior occurs.

    • Stop the watch when it ceases.

  • Compute

    • average length of occurrence


    • % of observation time that behavior was displayed.

Calculate the duration for the upcoming clicker slides

Total time witnessed

Total time of observation =%.

During a 20 minute session, you observed the behavior emerge 5 times for a total of 15 minutes. Calculate the:

  • % of the block of time that it occurred (use formula)

  • Average length of episode (use basic math).

Clickers:During a 20 minute session, the behavior emerges 5 times for total of 15 minutes. %?

1. ¾ (75% of the time)

2.1/3 (33% of the time)

3. 1¼ (125% of the time)

4. ¼ (25% of the time).


  • = 4

    Fact: 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions

Clickers: Average length of display?

1. 5 minutes

2. 3 minutes

3. 3/5ths of a minute

4. I’ve run out of fingers & toes while counting.

(Partial) Interval Recording ^

  • Periodically (determined ahead of time, e.g. “every 20 minutes”) watch a student for a period of time (pre-determined, e.g., “one minute”).

  • For each interval, make a “yes” or “no” mark depending on whether the behavior was displayed at ANY POINT during the observation period.

  • Compute the % of intervals that the behavior was displayed.

  • At any point since the “block of time” slide”, did anyone in our class ask a question?

(Whole) Interval Recording ^

  • Periodically (determined ahead of time) watch a student for a period of time (pre-determined).

  • For each interval, make a “yes” or “no” mark depending on whether the behavior was displayed for the ENTIRE length of the observation period.

  • Compute the % of intervals that the behavior was displayed.

  • During the last 10 minutes (or since the “block of time” slide) (the interval), was the person next to you “seated” for the entire time (posterior in contact with a horizontal surface)? Yes or No?

Momentary Time Sampling ^

  • Periodically (predetermined times) look at the student to determine if s/he is displaying the identified behavior at that very moment.

  • Make a “yes” or “no” mark depending on whether or not the behavior was displayed at that instant in time.

  • Compute the % of intervals that the behavior was displayed.

Clickers(Figure Interval Recording)

# of times behavior was witnessed =

# of times you watched for it.

  • Once per minute for a ½ hour observation session, you made a mark to indicate whether the behavior was observed. You made a “yes” sign for the following intervals:


    During what percent of the intervals was the behavior displayed?

    • 15%

    • 20%

    • 33%

    • 500%

Show the “Josh” video clip( www.BehaviorAdvisor.com inside button labeled “Free Podcasts & Videos”)

  • Session leader: Go over directions for activity (below). Then play video & call out “Now” every 10 seconds.

  • Participants should have a pencil & paper, and have decided on two marks; one for “yes”, the behavior is occurring (e.g., check mark, “Y”, plus sign) and one for “no”, Josh is NOT engaged in the designated behavior (minus sign, check mark with horizontal slash, “N”). OR

    Make yes & no columns in which to place tally marks.

  • Behavior to be observed: “Palming”, defined as “when an object unrelated to the lesson is touching the inside surface of the hand (show palm of hand) from the end of the fingernails to the 1st crease under the palm of the hand.” If “Now” is called when the camera is not showing Josh, do not make a mark.

Discussion: What things interfered with accurate accounting of the behavior?

Clickers:What percentage of “moments” (in time) was Josh “Palming”?

  • A. 75-80%

  • B. 81-90%

  • C. 91-100%

  • D. More than 100%

Which Type of Recording Procedure?

  • (In groups) Which type of recording would you use for each action?

  • Spitting (versus drooling)

  • In seat

  • Tattling

  • Echolalia

  • Gnawing on pencil

  • Cursing

  • Pinching.

    In seat?

Clickers:Which type of recording would you use for “On task”?(versus “off task”)

  • 1. Frequency

  • 2. Duration

  • 3. Momentary Time Sampling

  • 4. Whole interval

  • 5. More than one of the above (but which ones?)

Clickers:Which type of recording would you use for “non-compliant” behavior?

1. Frequency

2. Duration

3. Momentary Time Sampling

4. Whole interval

5. Partial interval

6. More than one of the above (but which ones?)

7. I refuse to answer. Dr. Mac can figure out what to do with my non-compliance.

Decide Where & When to Observe

  • Determine:

    • Do I want to observe the behavior in a number of situations or just one (e.g., math class, story time)?

    • If multiple settings or situations/circumstances,(Time of day, subject, teacher, peers present),why?

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