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Trish hits other students during recess when she does not get her way. Carlos makes irrelevant and inappropriate comments during class discussion.
Jan leaves her assigned area without permission. Jan completes only small portions of her independent work. Jan blurts out answers without raising her hand. It may be necessary to carefully and objectively observe the student's behavior in different settings and during different types of activities, and to conduct interviews with other school staff and caregivers, in order to pinpoint the specific characteristics of the behavior.
Once the problem behavior has been defined concretely, the team can begin to devise a plan for conducting a functional behavioral assessment to determine functions of the behavior. The following discussion can be used to guide teams in choosing the most effective techniques to determine the likely causes of behavior.
Top of page Alternative assessment strategies The use of a variety of assessment techniques will lead teams to better understand student behavior. Each technique can, in effect, bring the team closer to developing a workable intervention plan.
A well developed and executed functional behavioral assessment will identify the contextual factors that contribute to behavior. Determining Functional strategies specific contextual factors for a behavior is accomplished by collecting information on the various conditions under which a student is most and least Functional strategies to be a successful learner.
That information, collected both indirectly and directly, allows school personnel to predict the circumstances under which the problem behavior is likely and not likely to occur.
Multiple sources and methods are used for this kind of assessment, as a single source of information generally does not produce sufficiently accurate information, especially if the problem behavior serves several functions that vary according to circumstance e.
It is important to understand, though, that contextual factors are more than the sum of observable behaviors, and include certain affective and cognitive behaviors, as well. In other words, the trigger, or antecedent for the behavior, may not be something that anyone else can directly observe, and, therefore, must be identified using indirect measures.
For instance, if the student acts out when given a worksheet, it may not be the worksheet that caused the acting-out, but the fact that the student does not know what is required and thus anticipates failure or ridicule.
Information of this type may be gleaned through a discussion with the student. Since problem behavior stems from a variety of causes, it is best to examine the behavior from as many different angles as possible.
Teams, for instance, should consider what the "pay-off" for engaging in either inappropriate or appropriate behavior is, or what the student "escapes," "avoids," or "gets" by engaging in the behavior.
This process will enable the teams to identify workable techniques for developing and conducting functional behavioral assessments and developing behavior interventions.
When carrying out these duties, teams might consider the following questions. Is the problem behavior linked to a skill deficit? Is there evidence to suggest that the student does not know how to perform the skill and, therefore cannot? Students who lack the skills to perform expected tasks may exhibit behaviors that help them avoid or escape those tasks.
If the team suspects that the student "can't" perform the skills, or has a skill deficit, they could devise a functional behavioral assessment plan to determine the answers to further questions, such as the following: Does the student understand the behavioral expectations for the situation?
Does the student realize that he or she is engaging in unacceptable behavior, or has that behavior simply become a "habit"? Is it within the student's power to control the behavior, or does he or she need support?
Does the student have the skills necessary to perform expected, new behaviors? Does the student have the skill, but, for some reason, not the desire to modify his or her behavior? Sometimes it may be that the student can perform a skill, but, for some reason, does not use it consistently e.
This situation is often referred to as a "performance deficit". Students who can, but do not perform certain tasks may be experiencing consequences that affect their performance e.
If the team suspects that the problem is a result of a performance deficit, it may be helpful to devise an assessment plan that addresses questions such as the following: Is it possible that the student is uncertain about the appropriateness of the behavior e.
Does the student find any value in engaging in appropriate behavior? Is the behavior problem associated with certain social or environmental conditions? Is the student attempting to avoid a "low-interest" or demanding task? What current rules, routines, or expectations does the student consider irrelevant?
Addressing such questions will assist the IEP team in determining the necessary components of the assessment plan, and ultimately will lead to more effective behavior intervention plans. Some techniques that could be considered when developing a functional behavioral assessment plan are discussed in the following section.Strategy (from Greek στρατηγία stratēgia, "art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship") is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.
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