Curriculum-Based Assessment Procedures Embedded within Functional Behavioral Assessments: Identifying Escape-Motivated Behaviors in a General Education Classroom

By Roberts, Maura L.; Marshall, Jody et al. | School Psychology Review, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

Curriculum-Based Assessment Procedures Embedded within Functional Behavioral Assessments: Identifying Escape-Motivated Behaviors in a General Education Classroom


Roberts, Maura L., Marshall, Jody, Nelson, J. Ron, Albers, Craig A., School Psychology Review


Abstract. The purpose of this study was to examine whether curriculum-based assessment (CBA) procedures could be incorporated into a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to identify antecedent events that occasion off-task classroom behaviors of students in a general education classroom. A multi-element design was used to conduct a two-phase FBA and monitor changes in off-task behavior of 3 male students in the classroom. Phase 1 consisted of a teacher interview, an academic assessment, and a descriptive analysis. Phase 2 consisted of an antecedent manipulation phase in which the difficulty level of academic activities was systematically manipulated to determine events that may elicit the off-task classroom behaviors for each student. The present study builds upon the FBA and functional analysis literature in two ways. First, this study examined the use of CBA procedures to identify antecedent events related to off-task classroom behaviors, given the assumption that these behaviors were motivated by escape from academic activities that were too difficult relative to students' skill levels. Second, this study examined the use of FBA in a general education classroom rather than analogue or clinic-based school settings in which these procedures frequently have been employed. Third, their use was examined with general education students who were experiencing problem behaviors rather than with special education students for whom FBA procedures are often implemented.

Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures have revolutionized the assessment and intervention of problem behaviors. Unlike traditional approaches to behavioral assessment, FBA procedures focus on the environmental etiology rather than the topography of problem behaviors as a basis for the selection of treatment procedures (Mace & Roberts, 1993). The emergence of FBA has provided a set of procedures to identify the function of a problem behavior (e.g., escape motivated or attention-seeking) by examining events related to its occurrence. This information can then be used to develop a positive behavioral intervention plan that directly addresses the identified function of a behavior.

Over the years, a variety of practical and valid methodologies have been developed to identify the environmental etiology of problem behaviors. Experts in the field typically distinguish between the concepts of FBA and functional analysis (Nelson, Roberts, Mathur, & Rutherford, 1999). FBA describes the full range of procedures that can be used to identify the antecedents and consequences associated with the occurrence of behavior. FBA procedures can be indirect (e.g., rating scales, interviews, and records) or direct (e.g., direct observation in naturalistic or analog settings). The term functional analysis specifically involves the direct experimental manipulation of environmental events and the systematic observation of their effect on the frequency of behavior. To date, functional analysis is the only approach to FBA that can be used to make "causal" rather than descriptive statements about the function of behavior (Homer, 1994; Mace & Lalli, 1991; Touchette, MacDonald, & Langer, 1985).

An extensive body of literature has demonstrated the use of functional analysis to reliably identify the operant function of certain classes of behavior (Cooper, Wacker, Sasso, Reimers, & Donn, 1990; Dunlap, Kern-Dunlap, Clarke, & Robbins, 1991; Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982; Mace & Belfiore, 1990; Northup et al., 1994; Roberts, Mace, & Daggett, 1995; Vollmer, Marcus, & LeBlanc, 1994). Researchers have identified a number of environmental factors that influence problem behavior. One factor that has been extensively examined has been the effect of academic variables on student performance. Collectively this literature has indicated that specific curriculum variables, such as task requirements (Cooper, Peck, Wacker, & Millard, 1993; Winterling, Dunlap, & O'Neill, 1987), type of instructions given (Singer, Singer, & Homer, 1987), student preference (Cooperet al. …

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