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Conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment. Tracy Gershwin Mueller, Ph.D. University of Northern Colorado. Before Conducting an FBA…. Assess the overall classroom environment Ask your self if the student is “aware” of the expected behaviors

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conducting a functional behavioral assessment

Conducting a Functional Behavioral Assessment

Tracy Gershwin Mueller, Ph.D.

University of Northern Colorado

before conducting an fba
Before Conducting an FBA…
  • Assess the overall classroom environment
  • Ask your self if the student is “aware” of the expected behaviors
  • Talk with Teachers, parents, and student to see if there are any potential “setting events” that you may not be aware of
  • MOST IMPORTANT~ Be sure that all universal interventions are already being practiced!!


A Step by Step Process

Every behavior serves a purpose

Your job is to find that purpose and replace the problem behavior with a more appropriate one.

step 1 identify behavior describe in terms that are observable and measurable
Step 1. Identify Behavior: Describe in terms that are observable and measurable

Example: Physical Aggression

Observable: Striking or hitting another person with an

open or closed fist.

Measurable: Observed when student reaches arm to

another person and strikes them on part of their body. This

will be measured using event recording. Each occurrence of

hitting will be measured as one event.

step 2 collect data
Step 2: Collect Data:

Sources of Data

  • Interviews
  • Record Review
  • Behavior Assessment
    • Questionnaires, checklists, behavior rating scales
  • Direct Observation
  • Functional Analysis

Seek triangulation of data to support hypotheses

Source 2

Source 1

Source 3

the abc s of behavior
The ABC’s of Behavior
  • SETTING EVENT: Situations or characteristics that “set up” the problem?
  • ANTECEDENT: what happens before the behavior to “trigger it”?
  • BEHAVIOR: what is the specific problem behavior?
  • CONSEQUENCE: our response/”the payoff”?
types of observations
Types of Observations
  • Descriptive and Anecdotal Recording (ABC)

Antecedent Behavior Consequence

12:30 child sat next Sara hit child child left area- Sara

to Sara sitting alone

  • Structured Observations
    • Interval Recording (observe during interval times)
    • Event Recording (tally the number of events)
    • Duration Recording (how long the behavior lasts)
    • Latency Recording (record time between antecedent and behavior)
setting events look and listen for
Setting EventsLook and Listen for …
  • Broader issues that may be influencing behavior:
    • Daily activity schedule
    • Predictability of routines
    • Variety of activities or materials
    • Social relationships
    • Preferences of the student
    • Medical and physical issues (nutrition, illness, medications, sleep patterns)
    • Challenging family situations
antecedents or triggers look and listen for
Antecedents or TriggersLook and Listen For…
  • Under what circumstances is the behavior most/least likely
    • Changes in the environment
    • Time of day/activities
    • Clarity of expectations of activity/task
    • Reinforcement of expected behavior
    • Nature of interactions (tone, proximity, contact)
    • Amount & type of attention (peer, group, adult)
    • Child’s ability matched to the activity
maintaining consequences look and listen for
Maintaining ConsequencesLook and Listen For…
    • Social reaction/attention
    • Change in activity/routine
    • Increases assistance from adults or peers
    • Access to materials, activities, food/drink
    • Sensory stimulation or reduction
    • Change in the physical environment
    • Allowed space or movement
    • Delays activity/event
    • Avoids negative attention
step 4 develop a behavior intervention plan
Step 4. Develop a Behavior Intervention Plan

Make the behavior:

  • irrelevant (no longer meaningful),
  • inefficient (i.e., teach a socially appropriate replacement behavior that can achieve the same function), and
  • ineffective (i.e., minimize the likelihood of any reinforcement when the problem behaviors occur)
step 5 evaluate
Step 5. Evaluate
  • Be sure to create a fidelity of treatment plan (who, what where, when, why?)
  • Follow-up to see if the intervention is working
  • Continue to take data
  • Interview key stakeholders
  • Modify if needed
step 6 plan for sustainability
Step 6: Plan for Sustainability
  • Self-management
  • Self- advocacy
  • Self-regulation