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Assessment and
Functional Analysis
What Is a Functional Behavioral
• An FBA is an approach to figuring out why a student
acts a certain way. It uses different methods to
understand what’s behind behavior challenges.
• The basic idea is that a student’s behavior serves a
purpose. Whether they know it or not, kids act in
certain ways for a reason. If schools and families can
understand what’s causing a behavior, they can find
ways to change it.
• Here’s a real-life example.
• Aaron has strong math skills. But when the teacher hands out a
math worksheet, Aaron gets angry, crumples up the paper, and
throws it at classmates. He’s sent to the principal’s office, but the
behavior continues and the teacher doesn’t know what to do. The
school does an FBA and learns that although Aaron is good at math,
he has trouble showing his work on word problems. This is why he’s
acting out—to avoid this stressful math situation. Now, the school
can decide how to help.
• A school team works on the FBA. The team is led by a person
trained in understanding behavior, like a school psychologist or a
behavior specialist. The FBA team may also include:
• Teachers (both general and )
• School administrators
• Professionals who work with the student (counselors and speech
therapists, for example)
• The student and their family
The Steps of a Functional Behavioral
• During an FBA, the team gathers information and uses
it to make a plan to help with behavior. Here are the
steps the team takes.
• 1. Define the behavior.
• An FBA starts by defining a student’s behavior. Using
vague or general language makes it hard to understand
what’s happening. That’s why it’s important for the
team to be specific and objective. For example, instead
of saying the student is “disruptive” or “defiant,” the
team can say the student “rips up worksheets and
doesn’t respond when asked to show work in math
2. Gather and analyze information.
After defining the behavior, the team pulls together information. It may look at
school records, interview school staff who know and work with the student, and
screen or test the student. The goal is to answer questions like:
When and where is this behavior happening?
Where is it not happening?
How often is the behavior occurring?
Who is around when it occurs?
What tends to happen right before and right after the behavior?
The student can help provide this information, too. Only kids know how they feel
in the moment. Asking the student to try to keep track of feelings and emotions
could help the team. It can also help for the team to note the reactions from
• 3. Find out the reason for the behavior.
• Using the information collected, the team
makes a best guess about what’s causing the
behavior. It’s the team’s job to figure out what
the student is getting from the behavior. It
may be that the student is trying to escape or
avoid something, for example.
• 4. Make a plan.
• Next, the team tries to see if its best guess is right. The
school psychologist or behavior specialist leads this
part. It includes making changes at school to see if the
behavior changes. To do this, the school creates a
behavior intervention plan (BIP) to teach and reward
positive behaviors by the student.
• Using the above example about Aaron, it might help to
give him the chance to explain work out loud rather
than writing it. Or have the option to show work on
some, but not all the problems. As the school learns
more, they can adjust the plan.
Who is it used for?
Individuals with developmental disabilities
Young children with challenging behavior
Children with ADHD
Children with Conduct Disorder
Functions of Behavior
Process in Conducting an FBA
1. Describe and verify the seriousness of the problem behavior
2. Improve the definition of the problem behavior
3. Collect information that describes the function of the behavior
4. Analyze information using the triangulation and/or problem pathwayanalysis
5. Form a hypothesis statement describing probable function of the problem behavior
6. Test the hypothesis regarding the function of the problem behavior
Process Steps in
Conducting an FBA
Process in Conducting an FBA
1. Describe and verify the seriousness of the problem behavior—interview,
2. Improve the definition of the problem behavior—ABC, scatterplot
3. Collect information that describes the function of the behavior—ABC, scatterplot
4. Analyze information using the triangulation and/or problem pathwayanalysis
5. Form a hypothesis statement describing probable function of the problem behavior
6. Test the hypothesis regarding the function of the problem behavior
Descriptive Functional Behavioral
Assessment (FBA)
Direct measures in an FBA
Observing the behavior in person and describing it’s
context (function)
Describing antecedent and consequent events that occur
before/after the problem behavior
Recording the behavior during the observations using
multiple methods
• Indirect measures in FBA
• Relies on the use of interviews with educational faculty,
guardians, or significant adults figures who have direct contact
with student
• May also include a structured interview with student
• Not as reliable as direct assessments
• Indirect measures can also be obtained through surveys and
questionnaires completed by significant individuals/educational
faculty directly related to student
An FBA interview includes a structured set of questions that are asked to
an individual who is in direct contact with the student.
This process will gather crucial information about the context and function of
the problem behavior.
Steps during interview process
Have interviewee describe the behavior of concern.
How often it occurs? How long? How intense?
What is happening when the behavior occurs?
When/where is the behavior most/least likely to occur?
What conditions most likely set-off the behavior?
How can you tell the behavior is about to start?
What happens after the behavior?
What is the intent of the behavior?
What behaviors might serve the same function?
Who should be involved in creating/implementing the intervention plan?
Additional questions/information that the interviewee may find to be
Interview Example
Q: "In what settings and under what conditions do you observe the behavior?"
A: "Group discussions, usually when discussing what students learned from the previous night’sreading
Q: "Are there any settings/situations in which the behavior does not occur?"
A: "When Mandy is working alone or on small cooperative group projects."
Q: "Who is present when the behavior occurs?"
A: "The entire class and me."
Q: "What activities or interactions take place just prior to thebehavior?"
A: "The class is asked to take out their notes on the reading assignment."
Q: "What activities or interactions usually take place immediately followingthe behavior?"
A: "The class looks at Mandy and smiles; actually, there are times I can’t help laughing myself;
she is funny. But, it takes us a long time to get back on track and often a significant amount of valuable
instructional time is lost."
Q: "Are there other behaviors that occur along with the problem behavior?"
A: "None that I can think of."
Q: "Can you think of any reasons why Mandy might behave this way?"
A: "I think she really enjoys the attention. But, there are other, more appropriate ways for her to get
attention; maybe I could begin with that thought."
Q: "What would be a more acceptable way for the student to achieve the sameoutcome?"
A: "I’m not sure. I could give it some thought. Maybe if she contributed to the discussion instead of
getting us all off track, or if she could at least wait until we are finished to tell us what she finds funny
about the subject."
ABC data
An ABC data form is an assessment tool used to gather information that should
evolve into a positive behavior support plan. ABC refers to:
Antecedent- the events, action, or circumstances that occur before a behavior.
Behavior- The behavior.
Consequences- The action or response that follows the behavior.
Example of an ABC Chart
Student Name:
Observation Date:
Class Period:
Scatter plots- chart or grid where observer records a
single or multiple events when the behavior occurs.
Helps to identify patterns in time of day or activities to
identify function and environment factors
Scatterplot example
Scatterplot Example
Example of a Data Triangulation Chart
Problem Behavior Pathway
Example of Competing Behavior Pathway Chart
Generating Hypothesis Statement
Statement that derives from data collected from the
data triangulation chart or pathway analysis chart.
Describes the likely function of the student’s problem
Known as a “best guess” for the IEP team, a threefold contingency
“When ‘x’ occurs, the student responds with ‘y’ in orderto
attain ‘z’”
Example: When she does not get what she wants from her peers, Trish calls
them names and hits them until they give in to her demands.
Behavior Intervention Plan
Created or revised after appropriate information is
gathered from the IEP team about the context and
function of the problem behavior.
Should include positive strategies, program
modifications, and supplementary aids that address
the problem behavior in a nonrestrictive setting
Should provide specific approaches on how to teach
a target behavior that is functionally equivalent to the
problem behavior.
Functional Analysis (FA)
empirical demonstration of a cause-effect relationship
Antecedents and consequences are arranged so that
their respective effects on problem behavior can be
observed and measured
Functional Analysis applied to problem behaviors:
Applying contingencies and evaluating their effects
What is it used for?
To verify a hypotheses drawn from functional
To refine a hypotheses drawn from functional
To clarify results from a functional assessment
The initial step in hypothesizing the function of a
Who is it used for?
Individuals with developmental disabilities
Young children with challenging behavior
Children with ADHD
Children with Conduct Disorder
Basic Procedure
Place individual in two or more conditions in which
the settings and interactions are purposefully and
fully structured
Referred to as “analogue”
measurement of a client's overt behavior in a contrived
situation that is analogous to situations that the client is
likely to encounter in his or her natural environment.
Antecedents and consequences similar to those occurring
in natural settings are presented systematically-this
allows the behavior analyst to better control the
• Functional Analysis has the ability to
demonstrate how variables (e.g., attention)
relate to the occurrence of a problem behavior.
• By identifying variables that maintain problem
behavior, reinforcement based treatments can be
developed rather than relying on punishments.
Assessment process may temporarily increase the
undesirable behaviors.
Deliberately arranging conditions that reinforce
behavior can appear counterintuitive to those who do
not know its purpose.
Some behaviors (i.e., serious or dangerous
behaviors) may not be suitable for Functional
Analyses conducted in controlled environments may
not account for the occurrence of the problem
behavior in its natural setting.
The time, effort, and expertise required to perform
Functional Analysis limit its widespread use in
• Sample FBA
• https://studylib.net/doc/6647038/functionalbehavioral-assessment