Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Classroom-Based Functional Analysis and Intervention for Students with Emotional/behavioral Disorders

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Classroom-Based Functional Analysis and Intervention for Students with Emotional/behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt


We conducted functional analyses of disruptive behavior in a classroom setting for two students of typical intelligence with emotional/behavioral disorders (E/BD) using the classroom teacher to implement functional analysis conditions. The functional analyses suggested that both participants' disruptive behavior was maintained by escape from task demands and access to attention. Based on this information, we implemented a DRA procedure in which participants could request either escape or attention while disruption was placed on extinction. DRA decreased the disruptive behavior of both participants and the schedule of reinforcement was successfully thinned to a level that was practical for the classroom teacher to consistently implement. KEY WORDS: classroom-based functional analysis, differential reinforcement of alternative behavior, emotional/behavioral disorders


Behaviors that are distractive or disruptive occur more commonly than severe behaviors and comprise the majority of school-based disciplinary referrals (Sterling-Turner, Robinson, & Wilczynski, 2001). Decreasing disruptive behavior may be of particular importance for students classified with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD), as this is often the primary reason they are placed in restrictive educational placements outside of the general education classroom. In recent years, the experimental functional analysis methodology developed by Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman (1994) in an institutional setting has been increasingly used in educational, residential, and vocational settings (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003). Within the educational setting, several researchers have demonstrated the effective use of structural/antecedent analysis to address the inappropriate behavior of students classified as E/BD (e.g., Ervin et al., 2000; Kern, Delaney, Clarke, Dunlap, & Childs, 2001; Lee, Sugai, & Horner, 1999; McComas, Thompson, & Johnson, 2003; Meyer, 1999). While multiple studies have documented the effectiveness of classroom-based functional analyses involving the manipulation of environmental consequences with individuals with various other disabilities (e.g., Ervin, DuPaul, Kern, & Friman, 1998; Sasso et al., 1992), relatively few classroom-based functional analyses have been conducted with students with E/BD.

Ellis and Magee (1999) conducted analog and in-class functional analyses with three students with E/BD who exhibited disruptive classroom behaviors. Graduate students conducted the initial analog functional analyses while participant's teachers, with assistance from graduate students, conducted the in-class assessments with 2 of 3 participants. Results of the two functional analyses were generally consistent with one another and one of the in-class assessments produced clearer results than did the analog assessment. For the two participants who experienced both functional analyses, interventions were developed and implemented based on the results of the in-class functional analyses. The intervention for the third participant, who did not receive an in-class functional analysis, was developed and implemented based on the results of the analog functional analysis. Treatment results were evaluated using an A-B design. All participants' inappropriate behaviors decreased from baseline levels indicating that the functional analyses had accurately identified the behavioral function of the participants' inappropriate behavior.

Moore and Edwards (2003) conducted functional analyses with four participants who exhibited problem behaviors and were enrolled in K-12 general education classrooms, one of which was classified with an emotional disturbance. All of the sessions were conducted by the teacher during ongoing instruction within the participants' class. As functional analyses indicated that all participants' aberrant behaviors were escape maintained, additional analyses of the demand condition, including a concurrent operants analysis, were conducted in an attempt to identify the specific aspects of the demand context which were producing participants' aberrant behavior. …

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