Overview: This field-based assignment requires you to observe a student and directly apply course emphasized professional skills. These skills include being able to operationally describe and define behavior; engage in behavior observation, data collection and interpretation; hypothesis development; graphing; and the ability to generate data-linked, proactive recommendations to address challenging behavior and enhance students’ educational and other school outcomes.
Critical skills of focus: The critical skills of focus in this assignment include being able to identify socially significant behavioral concerns; developing clear, objective, operational definitions of behavior; conducting indirect assessment to gather information about students’ behavior, including interviewing key personnel, parents, and/or students themselves as well as reviewing past records; scheduling direct assessment through behavior observation and data recording in classroom settings; synthesizing varied sources of information in order to formulate evidence-based hypotheses to explain behavior patterns and potential underlying functions; and recommend data-linked proactive and educative recommendations to decrease challenging behavior and enhance students’ access to social, academic, and other opportunities.
Field based expectations: To fulfill the assignment, you must select a student with disabilities who exhibits challenging behaviors and schedule times for you to directly observe the student in different classes and activities. Your observations and data collection should take place over the span of at least five different days, and you need to be the person observing and recording information. To maximize the benefit of your observations, you should try to schedule observations at different times of day as this will allow you to see how the student behaves with different people (school personnel and peers), during different subjects, and under different levels of demand.
Directions: Identify the student you will observe!
Once you have selected your student, begin your indirect assessment to gather background information about the student, his/her behavior, and whether or not this behavior has occurred in the past. This also requires you to review past records, the student’s IEP, work samples, etc. This also should include interviews with the classroom teacher, family members, previous instructors, and even the student, when feasible.
Select a socially valid behavior concern, and operationally define it. If the student engages in multiple behaviors, choose only one for this assignment.
Sometimes this step is difficult because you may think that one label or category of behavior will be appropriate for the assignment, but it is not. Think about a student who exhibits “aggression.” In all likelihood this represents a group of behaviors, not a single one. It also is likely that these behaviors do not always happen at the same time or in a set sequence. For instance, “aggression” could include hitting, kicking, slapping, and punching others. For the sake of this assignment, and to practice all the skills of focus, you need to pick and then operationally define only one of the behaviors that falls under the label/category “aggression”.
Arbitrarily, let’s focus on punching. One way to define it is: John forms a “fist” (i.e., fingers grouped tightly together against the palm with nails facing out and thumb across the knuckles) and brings it into contact with another person’s body (anywhere, anyone) with enough force that the contact leaves a red mark and/or bruise.
An example of punching is when John forms a fist and moves his arm so that he forcefully brings his fist into contact with anyone who is near him when he waits for his teachers to open the classroom door. A non-example is when John forms a fist and then brings it in contact with the fist of his 1:1 paraprofessional (i.e., he fist bumps) after he has done good job and/or to greet him.
Once you have selected and defined the behavior of concern, develop a data sheet that you will use to record observations. This sheet must allow you to record all behavior incidents and the antecedent, setting events, and consequence conditions that appear to maintain it. You also need to write down the perceived function of behavior, by incident. Finally, your data sheet should have space for you to include comments, and should also include the date, time of day, instructional format, people present, etc.
Before you begin observing behavior, make sure that you schedule enough observations to be able to “catch” behavior and also be sure that you observe behavior for five different days and at different times of day (if behavior does not happen often, you may need to schedule observations throughout the day to “catch” its occurrence).
Once observations are completed, you should review all of your information. Organize, summarize, and tabulate incidents in terms of the antecedents, setting events, consequences, and perceived functions associated with each occurrence. You will be expected to be able to interpret these patterns in relation to specific demands, subjects, instructional formats/styles, times of day, and other conditions and be able to develop hypotheses to explain these patterns. You will also need to be able to graphically illustrate different patterns. The last part of the assignment requires you to synthesize everything that you observed and interpreted and to come up with recommendation in at least three (3) areas: 1) strategies to decrease challenging behavior; 2) specific skills to teach the student to effectively prevent the behavior from occurring and that will meet his/her needs; and 3) proactive steps that instructors can take to increase the student’s access to social, academic, and other experiences that will enhance his/her quality of life.
FBA Summary Outline & Headings:
Introduce the child being observed. At minimum, provide brief background about his/her strengths, interests, and learning needs; his/her age; information about his/her family; and finally, the school/classroom where s/he is placed (i.e., where observation took place). Include the current educational supports s/he receives.
Identify the specific indirect assessment approaches you used to gather background information (interviews, record reviews & from whom you got this information) and summarize what you learned about the focus student’s strengths, preferences, behavioral, linguistic, cultural, and/or other needs, including those related to disability, as well as the types of instructional services/supports that are provided to the student. Be sure to convey information professionally (i.e., use objective and person-first not deficit based language) and preserve the student’s privacy by using only a first name and last initial.
Target behavior, definition, and example
Describe the behavioral concern, why it was chosen for observation over other potential concerns, and how it impacts the student’s quality of life (i.e., why it is a socially valid concern). Be sure your definition is written in operationally clear, objective, and measureable terms so that anyone reading it would be able to recognize and document the behavior without having to know the student (i.e., the stranger test). Supplement your definition with BOTH an example and a non-example to ensure clarity.
Data sheet, measurement, and observation schedule
[~1-3 paragraphs; 2 completed “raw” data sheets]
Describe how you created/developed your data sheet (i.e., the types of information that the form allowed you to collect), the schedule you followed for your observation, and specific steps you implemented to observe and record information accurately and unobtrusively.
Specify the behavioral dimension that you observed (e.g., frequency, duration, rate, percent, time sampling, whole or partial interval).
Graphic illustrations of data patterns
[data summary chart; at least one line graph and one cumulative bar graph]
First tabulate and summarize data patterns across antecedents, setting events, consequences, and perceived functions in a computer generated table. Then, based on your summary of data, graphically illustrate key – and different antecedent, setting event, and consequence patterns related to the behavior. Each computer generated graph should include required components and labels.
You must include at least one line graph (often this represents frequency) and at least one cumulative bar graph. REMEMBER that a line graph that illustrates the number of correct math problems over time and the % correct over time does not provide different information.
Hypotheses [~2-3 paragraphs]
Summarize your interpretations of the behavior patterns you observed and illustrated in your graphs. Formulate hypotheses to explain behavior in terms of the student’s needs and underlying communicative function(s) of behavior. Use the format provided below.
Sample Hypothesis Statement Format:
When ____________________________ occur(s) during ______________________
(setting events, antecedents) (location/activity)
[the influences/triggers; the “what”] [the “where” & “when”]
__________________ engages in _______________
[the “who”] [the “problem behavior”]
in order to get/avoid _________________.
[the “why”/ “what typically happens”]
Recommendations [~4-6 paragraphs]
Building from your data summary chart,…