Functional analysis of behavior in schools

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There are five steps to the process of conducting functional analysis of behavior. The first step is the description and definition of the target behavior. A well defined behavior is very essential when collecting and even communication with team members. T6he behavior should be defined in specific, measurable (something you can see and count) and observable terms. For example it will not be advisable to say "Peter is aggressive". The statement is too vague because it does not depict some of the reasons as to why Peter is aggressive but if one says "Peter is aggressive because he kicks, hits and pokes other students during transition time", he will be specific because the statement gives out the reasons of the aggressiveness. When collecting the student behavior it will be very important for the team to consider the expectations of the teacher in terms of student academic performance and classroom conduct. This is because the teacher's expectations exceed or even fall below the student's performance ability. While assessing the student behavior it is important to consider cultural differences. For instance I some culture competition between peers is discouraged while in others eye contact with the adults is not allowed. It is therefore very important for the parents to provide valuable information their behaviors or cultural values. When considering the student's behavior the school personnel should ensure that they are aware of the existing differences so that they may respect them and also adopt the family's perspective. In order for the student's behavior to be explicitly identified it is important to observe them in different setting and during different types of activities. A "yes" answer to the questions asked to the schools subordinate staff and caregivers can be very vital in the pinpointing of the specific characteristics of a behavior.

The other step of conducting functional behavior analysis is to collect information to determine function. This is because the collection and analysis of various kinds of information about behavior that significantly disrupts the teaching and learning process will assist the school personnel in selecting the most appropriate interventions. Information on the social, environmental context, events preceding and following the behavior respectively and the past events may be of great influence to the current behavior. It also assists the teams in predicting when, where and with whom and even under what condition a certain behavior is most likely to occur. Collecting information on the various conditions under which a student is most and least likely to exhibit the problem behavior is of major importance because it ensures that the determination of specific contextual factors is accomplished. Contextual factors are more than that the whole of observable behaviors because they include the affective and cognitive mannerisms .this means that the cause of the behavior may not be something that is directly observable but and therefore must be identified using indirect measures. For example when a student acts out when given a worksheet it may not be the worksheet that causing the acting-out but the fact that the student t doesn't know what is required and thus anticipating failure or ridicule. A behavior problem stems from a variety of causes and therefore it is advisable for the team to examine the behavior from as many different angles as possible. This calls for the use of multiple means of collecting information about the behavior this may include the review of t he student s past and current records (medical and educational) and evaluation of a sample of the students items or products such as in-class assignments, homework and tests. In this step of conducting functional behavior analysis two methods (direct and indirect assessment) are used in the measurement of the student's behavior. Direct assessment consists actually observing the problem behavior and describing g the conditions which are surroundings the behavior (its context).the context involves the events that are antecedent and consequent to the student behaviors of interest. Indirect assessment tends to rely heavily on the use of interviews with teachers and other adults (bus drivers, parents) who have direct contact with the student. A semi structured interview with the student will also provide a critical insight into the student's perspective of the issue and therefore yield a more complete understanding of the reasons behind the inappropriate behavior.

Categorizing behavior and forming hypothesis is the third a step of conduction functional behavioral analysis. It is the responsibility of the team to consider all the relevant information and form a hypothesis about the behavior that will be used to develop a BIP. Hypothesis at this stage refers to the statement of describing the team's conclusions about the possible cause(s) and deficits for the student's manifestation of behavior. The team can reach a conclusion by using a graphic device that helps in analyzing all the compiled information. The best tool to use is the data triangulation chart for it provides data on which the team can pull together and visually compare information collected from various sources. The fourth step of conducting functional behavioral analysis is by developing and implementing of a behavior intervention plan. During this stage it is important for the teams to note that students respond best to BIP that uses positive methods to teach and encourage appropriate, alternative mannerisms. Some of this methods include modifying the physical environment, the adjustment of instructional or curriculum strategy, alteration of the consequences or antecedents for the students behaviors and the teaching of a more acceptable replacement behavior that serves the same function. The final step is to monitor the intervention plan. This can be done through the collection of data on the student progress, review and evaluation of the behavior goals. This will assist in the determination of whether the current BIP is successful or if it needs some modifications.

Effective behavior intervention plans begin with the knowledge that behaviors are skills that need to be taught as explicitly as academic skills are taught. There are various components of an effective behavioral intervention plan. One of the components is the documentation of specific and short-term objectives. Goals in this context are perceived to be reasonable behavioral expectations for the student to achieve and maintain. An annual goal specifies the time limit placed on reaching the goal, usually on e school year. The short term-objectives stated in measurable terms should provide a link between the present r level of behavioral performance and the annual goals. The objectives should include the three essential element s which are namely; observable and measurable behavior, conditions and criterion. Observable behaviors refer to those that can be heard or seen. For example hitting or swearing while measurable means that the problem behavior can is directly observed, recorded and analyzed to determine its frequency or duration. Conditions will refer to settings or situations in which the student will or will not exhibit the target behavior while criterion refers to the standard or expected level of the desired behavior(s) which is usually determined by the IEP team following the evaluation of the baseline data. The second component is the description of intervention strategies. This is because a BIP should provide a step by step description of strategies that will reinforce, maintain or teach acceptable replacement behaviors .interventions may include the implementing of environmental modifications, strategies for teaching alternative behaviors, replacement of behaviors, and strategies for reducing identified problem behaviors. The third component is the measurement of intervention effectiveness. While developing the BIP the IEP team should measure the behaviour once the intervention has been implemented. The team should also continue to measure the behavior once the intervention has been implemented. Measures should provide information to the IEP on team when they begin to evaluate t he impact of the intervention plan on the students behavior. The BIP should also include all the measurement tools to be used and the schedules for data collection. Observation data reviewed on an ongoing basis allows for adjustments in the plan. If the problem behavior continues with this little or no change, the IEP team should modify the intervention plan. Severe problem behavior that is resistant to change may require the use of more complex intervention plans. The last intrusive techniques appropriate to the current situation are preferred.

There are four main ways of increasing behaviors which are namely; the use of active ignoring rewarding of good alternative behavior, assisting the child to practice good behaviors, set a good example or become a model that they can copy from. Active ignoring is where the teachers and parents briefly remove all their attention from the misbehaving child. Active ignoring enables the teachers to be confident that they are not accidentally rewarding the bad behaviors with attention. If a teacher scolds to pay attention to a child while misbehaving h e might unintentionally reward that behavior. This method weakens the undesired behavior and the opposite is true. There are various ways in which this method can be effective. The teacher can refuse to argue or even scold the student t or he can also turn his head and avoid eye contact. The teacher can also should also a void showing anger and even pretend to be absorbed in some other activity. It is also very important for the teacher to ensure that he gives the student a lot of attention to the student when bad behavior stops .some of the misbehaviors which can be stopped through this method include loud crying intended to manipulate teachers, loud complaining, continuous begging and demanding of things. Rewarding of good alternative behavior is also similar to the active ignoring of undesired behavior because they both call for the rewarding of the exhibition of the required behavior. Reward of t6he good alternative behavior is however different from active ignoring because it includes the use of praise and giving attention to the student so that the behavior exhibited can be increased. For this method to work effectively the teacher should ensure that he talks with the student in normal tone of voice, exercise self control when frustrated and also solve problems using words. The other way in which both the teacher and parents can increase the students behavior while discarding the undesired one is by helping the child into practicing good behaviors. This can mainly be achieved through counseling and also practical activities. The teacher and the parent should explain to the child the reasons as to while some of the behaviors are considered to be a vice and some of the negative effects accompanied by the behavior. The teacher and the parents can also assist the child into practicing good behaviors that they want the child to learn. This method is similar to the methods discussed above because they both agree that the rewarding of the desirable behavior can increase its frequency. Students and especially the young ones like copying what is being done b y their parents and teachers meaning if these two entities exhibit a bad behavior then the students a re also going to be exhibiting the same. To maintain the good behaviors at home and even at school it is important for the teachers, parents and the society as a whole to constantly demonstrate or "model" behaviors which the students observe. Teachers and parents should not unintentionally demonstrate behavior that they would not like to see in their children. For example if the parent or the teacher uses sarcasm an d criticism when dealing with other people the child is going to be using sassy talk and complaining when dealing with the other students. If there are good models in the society then obviously the student are going to have increased exhibition of the desired behavior.

There are two methods of reducing problematic behaviors. One of them is conventional punishment which means to reprimand, scold or even hurt an individual in order to stop a particular in its tracks, to prevent it from occurring or to deter others from partaking in a similar act. It is however very important for the teacher to think careful about the kind of punishment he is going to administer failure to which he will accidentally elevate the very behavior he wishes to see less of. Another method of reducing the unwanted behaviors is by teaching desired behaviors to replace unwanted behaviors by means of positive reinforcement. The teacher should ensure that the students are given praise or a reward once they show the desired behavior. For example rewarding the student who has passed the exam by giving him a present can encourage the others to stop being lazy and work hard. The teacher can also ensure that he negative rewards unwanted behaviors by withdrawing his attention and even presence from the misbehaving student. It is very important for the teacher too understand d that positive punishment decreases the rate of behavior stimulus applied while negative punishment de creases the rate of behavior remove stimulus while negative reinforcement increases the rate of behavior stimulus and positive reinforcement increases the rate of behavior stimulus applied.

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