Using Electronic and Other New Ways to Help Students Impvove Their Behavior

Article excerpt

Functional Behavioral Assessment at Work

As a special education teacher, you may be on the teacher assistance team or may be called on to consult with a student's general education teachers about behavior issues. Though your school has a schoolwide behavior support system in place, some students do not respond to the universal or specialized group interventions. These students are part of the 1%-7% of students who require specialized individual interventions (Sugai et al., 2000).

Functional behavioral assessments (FBAs) and behavior support plans are effective with many students with behavior issues (Broussard & Northup, 1997; Dunlap, White, Vera, Wilson, & Panacek, 1996). This article presents two case study examples from our own experience (names have been changed) to demonstrate how teachers can use FBA information to design behavior support.

Class Clown Learns New Ways to Get Attention

Jason was a student in a general education second-grade classroom. The classroom teacher asked for help from the teacher assistance team (TAT) because she was having a problem with Jason. She described him as the "class clown." When she moved away from him in the classroom, he would pretend to fall out of his chair. He also wandered around the room, talking to other students during lessons and independent work time. During transitions, Jason ran and pushed to the front of the line. He was frequently teasing and wrestling with other students in line.

The teacher was at her wit's end. She felt that the school had done everything possible for Jason. He had not only participated in the whole-school assemblies where students learned about school rules but had also participated in a "friendship" group set up to teach social skills to at-risk students. Jason was still receiving office referrals and minor incident reports for physical contact and off-task behavior that was extremely disruptive to the class. The team recommended conducting an FBA.

Functional Behavioral Assessment

FBA is a process of gathering information from interviews, direct observation, and school records, whereby "setting events" (or certain distractions), antecedents, and functions of a behavior are identified.

Many resources are available that explain how to conduct FBAs for behavior support (see box, "FBA Resources").

Before writing a behavior support plan, it is helpful to summarize all the information gathered by diagramming the "competing pathways" of behavior [see Competing Behavior Pathways (O'Neill et al., 1997; Sugai, LewisPalmer, & Hagan, 1998)]. Using the competing behavior diagram (Figure 1) as a guide, the team can fill out an Intervention Strategy Planning Chart to use as an outline in writing the specific plan (Figure 2). The competing behavior diagram shows three ways a student could respond to a given situation: (a) with the ideal, desired way; (b) with an inappropriate or problem behavior, and (c) with an alternative behavior that, although not ideal, is a way the student can meet his or her needs in a socially acceptable way. The planning chart has four columns for listing problem-solving ideas related to each of the four parts of a behavioral sequence: (a) setting events, (b) antecedents, (c) behaviors, and (d) consequences.

Jason's FBA

Interviews revealed Jason's strengths and interests. He was most interested in hands-on types of activities, such as art and construction projects. He received reading instruction in the Title I program and was beginning to enjoy showing off his new reading skills. Jason was responsive to positive feedback and enjoyed bringing positive behavior reports to his parents.

Interviews and direct observations allowed us to develop and test the hypotheses that two of Jason's most challenging behaviors, being off task and inappropriate physical contact, were actually being encouraged, or maintained, by attention from peers and, in the form of redirections, from the teacher. …