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Classroom-Based Functional Assessment. Utah State University Effective Practices Conference 2009 Tyra Sellers, BCBA. A Question For You…. Why is it important to identify the function of a behavior problem?. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). What is it? When is it required?

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Classroom based functional assessment

Classroom-Based Functional Assessment

Utah State University

Effective Practices Conference 2009

Tyra Sellers, BCBA

A question for you
A Question For You…

Why is it important to identify the function of a behavior problem?

Functional behavior assessment fba
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

  • What is it?

  • When is it required?

    • Severe behaviors requiring a Behavior Intervention Plan

Review of terms
Review of Terms

  • Operational Definitions

  • Antecedent

    • SDs

    • MO’s: can change the value of the consequence

  • Consequence

    • Positive versus Negative

    • Reinforcement

    • Punishment

Review of functions
Review of Functions

Gain Access –attention, tangible

Escape –demands (social/work), environmental conditions

Automatic –internal states/sensations

Multiply Maintained

All behavior is a function of its consequences.

Types of fba methods
Types of FBA Methods

  • Indirect Functional Behavior Assessment

    • Information gathered from sources, no direct observations

  • Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment

    • Information gathered from direct observations in naturally occurring settings

  • Functional Analysis (Experimental)

    • Information gathered from direct observations in experimentally controlled settings

Indirect functional behavior assessment
Indirect Functional Behavior Assessment

  • Gather information from multiple sources

    • E.g., teacher, parents, siblings, care givers, DIS personnel, peers, target child him/herself, records

  • Use structured tools

    • E.g., interview forms, questionnaires, checklists

  • Use unstructured tools

    • E.g., open interviews

Indirect functional behavior assessment cont
Indirect Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Interview Goals:

    • Objective and descriptive info re: problem behavior, antecedents, consequences

      • When, where, with whom, how often, how long, how much intensity, what happens right before, what happens immediately after

    • Specific, clear, and free from your influence or bias

    • No interpretation or inferences

Indirect functional behavior assessment cont1
Indirect Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Benefits

    • Info from people familiar with student

    • Info related to inaccessible events/settings

    • Can help guide/structure next steps and save time

  • Limitations

    • Accuracy of information

    • Biases and perceptions

    • Research has shown low validity and inter-rater agreement

Descriptive functional behavior assessment
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment

  • Directly observe student in natural setting(s)

    • ABC Narrative –written descriptions, record only when the behavior occurs

    • ABC Continuous –record specific information (usually a checklist) regarding the antecedents, behavior, and consequences during a specific period of time

    • Scatterplot –record frequency of occurrences related to specific times of day, days of the week, or other common events (e.g., regular classroom activities)

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Benefits

    • Can show correlation that may describe causal relationships

    • Does not rely on memory

    • Reduced risk of bias

    • Minimal disruption to classroom routine, no disruption to student’s routine

  • Limitations

    • Narrative forms –potential for inaccuracies and bias

    • Staff may perceive as difficult to manage

    • May require long data collection period (e.g., 2 weeks)

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont1
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Use information from indirect methods

    • When

    • Where

    • With whom

    • How often

  • Decide on data collection method

    • What kind

    • What to include (may need to modify)

    • How often (event, interval, momentary sampling)

    • Who collects

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont8
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Practice using narrative ABC Data form and DA Card

  • Target Behaviors:

    • Hitting table: hitting table with one or both open hand(s)

    • Throwing Objects: throwing any object

    • Property Destruction: breaking, ripping, or otherwise destroying any property

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont10
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • How to use descriptive data


      • Tally the number of antecedents that preceded

      • Tally the number of each consequence that followed

      • Make a bar graph

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont13
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’




Asked to stop prf’d = 25

Denied rqst = 20

Asked to do = 2

One-on-One = 0

Group = 0

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont14
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Analyzing Data

    • Look for patterns of relationships between behavior and specific environmental events

      • Antecedents and behavior

      • Behavior and consequences

      • When does it occur?

      • When does it not occur?

    • Make a hypothesis about the function based on data

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont15
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

  • Questions to ask

    • Characteristics of antecedents/consequences?

    • What do antecedent/consequences have in common?

    • In what ways do they differ?

    • Do I need more specific information?

Descriptive functional behavior assessment cont16
Descriptive Functional Behavior Assessment Cont’

When analyzing, remember:


No inferences



Practice analyzing data
Practice Analyzing Data

Hypothesized Function?

Practice analyzing data1
Practice Analyzing Data

First impressions?

Practice analyzing data2
Practice Analyzing Data

Hypothesized function?

What other info would help?

Practice analyzing data3
Practice Analyzing Data

Did this help confirm/refine hypothesis?

Writing an fba
Writing an FBA

  • Identifying information (about student and you)

  • How data was collected

  • Graphs, if you have them

  • Summaries of data

    • High frequency

    • Low frequency

  • Hypothesis of function

  • District form versus written report

What to do with an fba
What To Do With an FBA

  • Informs Behavior Intervention Plan

    • How to arrange environment to reduce/prevent

    • How to respond when target behavior occurs

    • What replacement behaviors to teach

  • Informs general teaching and parenting strategies

How to tell if your hypothesis was correct
How To Tell If Your Hypothesis Was Correct

  • Implement intervention

  • Take data

  • Does target behavior decrease?

  • If it does not, consider:

    • Extinction bursts

    • Learning history

    • Other sources of reinforcement

Cookie cutter vs individual functionally matched interventions
Cookie Cutter vs. Individual Functionally Matched Interventions

  • Cookie Cutter

    • Pros

    • Cons

  • Individual Functionally Matched

Fba and bip analysis
FBA and BIP Analysis Interventions

  • Read the following scenario. Answer these questions:

    • What was the hypothesized function?

    • Why did the teacher end up making that hypothesis?

    • Was it reasonable?

    • What was the functionally matched intervention?

    • Was it effective in reducing the problem behavior?

    • What more information would you like?

    • What might you change about the intervention?

Fba and bip analysis scenario
FBA and BIP Analysis Scenario Interventions

Sammy is a preschooler with autism. He receives direct 1:1 instruction for most of his day, but participates in circle time with his other 12 classmates. Staff report that group time is not preferred for Sammy. ABC/DA data indicated that Sammy frequently hit the nearest peer on the head or shoulders during circle time. The teacher implemented an intervention plan where the aggression is physically blocked by an aide seated near him. The aide then pulls Sammy’s chair 5-10 feet back from the group, next to the aide, and sits quietly for 30 seconds. Instances of hitting experienced a slight, but steady increase following intervention that maintained for 2 weeks.

When to call in a specialist
When To Call In A Specialist? Interventions

  • After you have:

    • Conducted an FBA

    • Tested hypothesis

    • Made revisions

    • Revised hypothesis and/or intervention

    • Problem behavior continues to maintain or increases

  • Or, if:

    • The problem behavior is very dangerous

    • There seem to be multiple complex functions (e.g., result of descriptive assessment unclear)

    • The appropriate intervention requires a specialist

Functional analysis experimental
Functional Analysis ( InterventionsExperimental)

  • Systematic presentation of antecedents and consequences

  • Generally in contrived, controlled setting

  • Typically consist of 4 conditions (three test and one control)

    -Demand/escape -Alone

    -Attention -Play (control)

  • Measure frequency of target behavior(s) across conditions

Functional analysis experimental1
Functional Analysis ( InterventionsExperimental)

  • Benefits

    • Experimental control

    • Typically clear demonstration of controlling/maintaining variables

    • Allows for more precise intervention

    • Backed by empirical research

  • Limitations

    • Potentially strengthen target behavior during assessment

    • Negative perceptions

    • Contrived setting

    • Time, staff, training requirements

Functional analysis experimental2
Functional Analysis ( InterventionsExperimental)

What to do while collecting fba data
What To Do While Collecting FBA Data Interventions

Neutral, limit attention

Keep demands in place

Intermittent praise for appropriate behavior

Fuba example
FUBA Example Interventions

Fuba example1
FUBA Example Interventions

Questions?? Interventions

Tyrasellers@mac com Interventions

Thank you for your time!

Resources Interventions

  • Indirect Resources for Interview Tools, Checklists, and Scales:

    • Functional Assessment Interview form

      • O’Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, K., & Newton, J.S., (1997). Functional Assessment for Problem Behavior: A Practical Handbook (2nd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    • Functional Assessment Interview form for the student to fill out him/herself

      • Kern, L., Dunlap, G., Clarke, S., & Childs, K. E. (1995). Student assisted functional assessment interview. Diagnostique, 19, 29-39.

      • O’Neill et al., 1997

Resources cont
Resources Cont’ Interventions

  • More Indirect Resources:

    • Behavioral Diagnosis and Treatment Information Form

      • Bailey, J. S., & Pyles, D. A. M. (1989). Behavioral diagnostics. In E. Cipani (Ed.), The treatment of severe behavior disorders: Behavior analysis approach (pp. 85-107). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.

    • Stimulus Control Checklist

      • Rolider, A., & Van Houten, R. (1993). The interpersonal treatment model. In R. Van Houten & S. Axelrod (Eds.), Behavior analysis and treatment (pp. 127-168). New York: Plenum Press.

    • Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST)

      • Iwata, B. A., DeLeon, I. (1996). The functional analysis screening tool. Gainesville, FL: The Florida Center on Self-Injury, The University of Florida

Resources cont1
Resources Cont’ Interventions

  • Books:

    • Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

    • O’Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, K., & Newton, J.S., (1997). Functional Assessment for Problem Behavior: A Practical Handbook (2nd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

  • Websites


    • www.usu/teachall/text/behavior/LRBIpdfs/lrbiresource_02.pdf