Collecting Information About the Target Behavior

Collecting Input, Observations and Information

Collecting Data
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When you are writing an FBA (Functional Behavior Analysis) you will need to collect data. There are three kinds of information you will be choosing: Indirect Observational Data, Direct Observational Data, and if possible, Experimental Observational Data. A true Functional Analysis will include an Analogue Condition Functional Analysis. Dr. Chris Borgmeier of Portland State University has made a number of helpful forms available online to use for this data collection.

Indirect Observational Data:

The first thing to do is to interview parents, classroom teachers and others who have had ongoing responsibility for supervising the child in question. Be sure that you give each stakeholder the functional description of the behavior, to be sure it is the behavior you are seeing.

You will want to explore instruments for collecting this information. Many questionnaire formats evaluative forms are designed for parents, teachers and other stakeholders to create observational data that can be used to support student success. 

Direct Observation Data

You will need to determine what kinds of data do you need. Does the behavior appear frequently, or is it the intensity that is frightening? Does it seem to occur without warning? Can the behavior be redirected, or does it intensify when you intervene?

If the behavior is frequent, you will want to use a frequency or scatter plot tool. A frequency tool can be a partial interval tool, that records how frequently a behavior appears during a finite period. The results will be X occurrences per hour. A scatter plot can help identify patterns in the occurrence of behaviors. By pairing certain activities with the occurrence of behaviors, you can identify both antecedents and possibly the consequence that is reinforcing the behavior.

If the behavior lasts a long time, you may want a duration measure. The scatter plot may give you information about when it happens, a duration measure will let you know how long a behavior tends to last.

You will also want to make an ABC observational form available for any people who are observing and collecting the data. At the same time, be sure you have operationalized the behavior, describing the behavior's topography so each observer is looking for the same thing. This is called inter-observer reliability. 

Analogue Condition Functional Analysis

You may find that you can identify the antecedent and consequence of behavior with direct observation. Sometimes to confirm it, an Analogue Condition Functional Analysis would be helpful.

You need to set up the observation in a separate room. Set up a play situation with neutral or preferred toys. You then proceed to insert one variable at a time: a request to do work, removal of a favored item or you leave the child alone. If the behavior appears when you are present in a neutral setting, it may be automatically reinforcing. Some children will hit themselves in the head because they are bored, or because they have an ear infection. If the behavior appears when you leave, it is most likely for attention. If the behavior appears when you ask the child to do an academic task, it is for avoidance. You will want to record your results, not only on paper but perhaps also on a videotape.

Time to Analyze!

Once you have collected enough information, you will be ready to move on to your analysis, which will focus on the ABC of the behavior (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence.)

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Webster, Jerry. "Collecting Information About the Target Behavior." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Webster, Jerry. (2020, August 27). Collecting Information About the Target Behavior. Retrieved from Webster, Jerry. "Collecting Information About the Target Behavior." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2023).