What Is A Functional Behavior Assessment?

Discover 'what is a functional behavior assessment?' and how it shapes behavior intervention strategies.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
June 18, 2024
Published On
June 18, 2024

Understanding Behavior Technicians

When discussing the topic of functional behavior assessments, one cannot overlook the vital role that behavior technicians play. Their expertise and involvement are critical in conducting these assessments and implementing effective interventions.

Role of Behavior Technicians

Behavior technicians, also known as behavior analysts, are professionals who specialize in understanding and modifying behavior. Their role is particularly important in the context of functional behavioral assessments (FBA).

As part of the FBA process, behavior technicians gather and analyze data to understand the underlying reasons for a person's challenging behavior. They are typically part of an FBA team led by a person trained in understanding behavior, such as a school psychologist or behavior specialist.

In the course of their work, behavior technicians collaborate with other professionals, such as school counselors and special educators, and may carry credentials like BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) after their name.

Importance of Behavior Technicians

The importance of behavior technicians in an FBA process cannot be overstated. Their expertise in behavioral support is brought to bear when addressing challenging behaviors.

Through their careful analysis, behavior technicians help to create behavior intervention plans (BIP) that contain strategies and interventions designed to improve the behavior under question. They use their professional understanding to ensure these interventions are effective and beneficial for the individual.

Moreover, behavior technicians play a crucial role in the success of the FBA process. Their involvement ensures that the assessment is conducted accurately and that the resulting interventions are tailored to the individual's needs.

In conclusion, behavior technicians play an integral role in the FBA process. Their expertise and involvement are crucial in understanding and addressing challenging behaviors, making them an invaluable part of the team conducting a functional behavior assessment.

Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)

Understanding the function and driving factors of a student's behavior is paramount in education and behavior intervention. This is where a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) plays a vital role.

Purpose of FBA

An FBA is a systematic approach aimed at identifying the function or purpose behind a student's behavior and the elements that maintain it. This process aids teachers and behavior technicians in understanding the reasons behind the behavior, thereby enabling them to design appropriate interventions. These interventions are geared towards teaching more acceptable methods of achieving the desired outcomes, especially for students with challenging behaviors.

In certain specific situations, an FBA is required, particularly when a student is disciplined or removed from school. These situations could include cases where the behavior is caused by or has a direct relationship to their disability, or when law enforcement, weapons, drugs, or serious injury are involved.

Process of Conducting FBA

The process of conducting an FBA involves a series of steps, often starting with direct observation of the student in various settings. Behavior technicians and analysts collect data on the student's behavior, including the frequency, duration, and intensity of the behavior.

Next, the ABC Model (Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence) is usually employed to identify what happens before the behavior (antecedent), the behavior itself, and what happened after the behavior (consequence). This model helps in understanding the triggers and reinforcements of the behavior.

The data collected is then analyzed to determine the function or purpose of the behavior and the maintaining factors. This analysis forms the basis of the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) that is developed to address and modify the student's behavior.

Success of FBA

Research indicates that FBAs have a high success rate in producing desired outcomes across various settings and student behaviors. They have become an invaluable tool for addressing challenging behaviors in the school setting [2].

FBAs are often part of multi-tiered systems of support, offering increasingly intensive and individualized levels of support for behavior. One such system is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which emphasizes positive behavior reinforcement.

In conclusion, an FBA is a comprehensive approach that helps in understanding the root cause of a student's behavior, devising appropriate interventions, and creating a conducive learning environment for all students.

Behavior Analysts in FBA

To understand what a functional behavior assessment (FBA) is, it's critical to recognize the role of behavior analysts in the process. They are experts in behavioral support and significantly contribute to the FBA process.

Involvement of Behavior Analysts

Behavior analysts, having undergone rigorous credentialing requirements, are typically involved in conducting an FBA to analyze and address challenging behaviors. Part of an FBA team led by a person trained in understanding behavior, such as a school psychologist or behavior specialist, a behavior analyst works alongside teachers, school staff, service providers, the student, and their family. Together, this team gathers information, analyzes data, and creates a behavior intervention plan (BIP) with strategies and interventions to improve the behavior.

Education professionals such as behavior analysts, school counselors, and special educators are typically involved in the FBA process. The process includes various steps and may involve professionals with credentials like BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) after their names.

Expertise of Behavior Analysts

Behavior analysts bring their specialized knowledge and skills to the FBA process. They utilize their expertise in analyzing behavior and developing effective interventions to address challenging behaviors [2].

Their knowledge is integral to identifying patterns and developing targeted interventions to address challenging behaviors effectively. This expertise is crucial in the FBA process, contributing significantly to the success of the intervention plan.

In conclusion, the involvement and expertise of behavior analysts are fundamental to the process of conducting a functional behavioral assessment. Their specialized knowledge and skills are invaluable in analyzing challenging behaviors and developing effective intervention strategies.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Multi-tiered systems of support are an integral part of managing and improving behavior in educational settings. They provide a framework for implementing proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors. Two commonly used models in this context are the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and the Response to Intervention (RTI).

PBIS in Behavior Support

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success. It is typically a key component of a multi-tiered system of support [2].

PBIS focuses on creating a positive school environment by setting clear expectations for behavior, teaching students how to meet these expectations, and then regularly acknowledging and rewarding students for doing so. This method is often used in conjunction with a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), which helps to identify the root causes of challenging behavior and inform the development of effective interventions.

Individualized Support Levels

In multi-tiered systems of support, the intensity and individualization of the support provided increase with each tier. For example, tier one (universal) support typically includes strategies that are applicable to all students, such as teaching and reinforcing positive behavior expectations.

Tier two (targeted) support may include small group interventions for students who need additional help in mastering these expectations. Finally, tier three (intensive) support is typically individualized and may involve more comprehensive interventions tailored to the needs of individual students.

An FBA is often used to inform the development of these individualized interventions, especially for students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan or those who have been removed from school due to disciplinary issues [1].

These multi-tiered systems of support work synergistically with FBAs to create a comprehensive and effective approach to behavioral support in educational settings. By understanding and addressing the root causes of challenging behavior, schools can help all students succeed.

FBA Team and Interventions

When conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), a team of professionals comes together to gather information, analyze data, and create a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). This section will delve into the composition of the FBA team and how they create the BIP.

Composition of FBA Team

An FBA team is typically led by a person trained in understanding behavior, such as a school psychologist or behavior specialist. However, the team is often multidisciplinary, including teachers, school staff, service providers, and even the student and their family. These individuals come together to form a comprehensive team that can effectively assess and address behavioral concerns.

In some settings, like Ms. Rollison's school, education professionals such as behavior analysts, school counselors, and special educators are also involved in the FBA process. These professionals often have specific credentials, like BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst), that indicate their expertise in the field.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Once the FBA team has gathered and analyzed all relevant information, they then develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). The BIP is a detailed plan that outlines specific strategies and interventions designed to improve the targeted behavior.

The BIP is not a one-size-fits-all document. Instead, it is tailored to the individual student's needs, taking into account their unique circumstances, strengths, and challenges. The BIP outlines the targeted behaviors that need to be addressed, the strategies that will be used to promote positive behavior, and how progress will be measured.

It's important to note that the BIP is a living document, meaning it can and should be revised and updated as necessary based on the student's progress and changing needs. Regular check-ins and data collection are key components of this process, ensuring that the BIP remains effective and relevant.

In conclusion, the FBA team plays a crucial role in understanding and addressing challenging behaviors in the educational setting. By working collaboratively and using data-driven strategies, this team can help students improve their behavior and achieve greater success in their learning environment.

Data Collection and Analysis

In the process of a functional behavior assessment, the collection and analysis of data play a significant role. It enables a more profound understanding of the behavior, leading to more effective interventions.

Direct Observations

Direct observations are a primary method of data collection during a functional behavior assessment. These observations can provide insight into when, where, and how often a behavior occurs, as well as how long it lasts. The data from direct observations should ideally be collected by an objective observer to ensure the accuracy of the information. Understanding the context and frequency of the problem behavior is crucial to formulating effective interventions.

ABC Model Analysis

The ABC model (Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence) is a significant tool used in the analysis of behavioral data. This model is utilized to identify the factors that lead to a behavior, the behavior itself, and the consequences that follow. In essence, it provides a framework to understand the function of the behavior.

When recording ABC events, observers should note the setting, time of day, and persons involved. This information helps in achieving a comprehensive understanding of the behavior and the conditions that influence it [3].

Baseline Data Collection

Baseline data refers to the level at which the behavior occurs before an intervention is implemented. Collecting this data over three to five observational periods provides a representative sampling of the behavior. This information is crucial for comparing the effectiveness of interventions later on.

By establishing a baseline, behavior analysts can measure the impact of the interventions accurately. It provides an essential reference point to gauge the success of the behavior intervention plan [3].

The process of data collection and analysis in a functional behavior assessment is crucial in understanding the behavior's nature and developing effective strategies to address it. It is a systematic approach that helps in tailoring interventions to meet the unique needs of the individual.


[1]: https://www.understood.org/en/articles/functional-assessment-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

[2]: https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/fba/cresource/q2/p04/

[3]: https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/fba/cresource/q2/p07/

[4]: https://teach.com/online-ed/psychology-degrees/online-masters-applied-behavior-analysis/functional-behavior-analysis/

[5]: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/ta_fba-bip