Functional Behavioral Assessment

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Functional Behavioral Assessment

Mitchell Sample is a fifteen year old male student in the tenth grade at Anytown High School. He lives at home with his parents, Mary and Joseph Sample, three older siblings, all male. Mitchell was referred for a functional behavior assessment due to noncompliance with classroom rules and emotional outbursts he exhibits within the school setting. These outbursts have resulted in his periodic removal from the regular education classroom setting. His behavior and consequent removal from class is affecting his academic performance. He is failing all his classes with the exception of Art II and PE. Kerr maintains that a functional behavior analysis “contribute to more effective interventions.” For this reason an FBA is needed to determine the function of the behavior and how to establish a plan that will redirect the target behavior in to the proper direction.

Background Information consisting of parent interviews and review of permanent records indicate that Mitchell was initially referred for special education and related services when he was eight years old due to low academics and behavioral concerns. He was found ineligible for services and has attended a general education classes ever since. He has remained in general education environment since the time.

Mitchell has a history of struggling academically. He is demonstrating noncompliant behavior by not turning in assignments and ignoring teaching requests and commands. Recently, he has started exhibiting emotional outbursts which causes a removal from the regular education setting. These outbursts interfere with his education as well as the education of other students in the class.

Description of Assessment Methods

  • Direct Observations of performance for three hours across six settings which included World History class, English 10 class, Algebra 1 class, art class, lunch and hall pass time.
  • Teacher Interviews utilizing a variation of the Functional Assessment Interview Form.
  • Educational records review, including child teacher support team file.

Functional Assessment Results

Kerr and Nelson (2010) point out that “educators are required to conduct an FBA when persistent behavioral concerns exist (FBA is commonly a part of the pre-referral and referral activities, and IEP development, review, and revision for misbehaving students) they are also required by law to conduct it within 10 days of any singular offense by a student with a disability that is punishable by:removal to an Interim Alternative Educational Setting” (Kerr, 2010). A functional assessment of behaviors of concern was conducted for this report using indirect (interviews) and descriptive (structured observation) methods. A topographical definition of the behaviors of concern was developed from interviews and then the behaviors of concern were observed utilizing a momentary time sampling. The antecedents, functions and consequences were then analyzed for this report based on recommended research standards in order to develop a hypothesis for the reasons for the behavior.





World History:

Demands placed on Mitchell in classroom.

Mitchell talks and ignores teacher instructions.

Teacher repeats instruction while asking Mitchell to comply with the request.

Teacher initiates classroom transition. “Turn in your warm up and take out your study guide for review.”

Mitchell says, “I don’t have my study guide” and then turns to talk to peer.

Teacher asks Mitchell to stop talking, and then asks him specifically to turn in his warm up.

Teacher gives copy of study guide to Mitchell, and tells him, “Fill this out as we review answers.”

Mitchell tosses paper on desk, and says, “Yea, right. Doesn’t make any difference if I do it or not. Screw you.”

Teacher ignored Mitchell’s comment and started review.

Class begins study guide review activity.

Mitchell talks to peer as teacher conducts lesson.

Teacher requests Mitchell remain quiet while review is going on unless he is answering a question about the review.

Teacher gives Mitchell choice of not talking during instruction or going to the hall.

Mitchell chooses to go to the hall.

Mitchell walks away from class and is written up for being in an unauthorized area.

Art class:

Mitchell is given clay to work with.

Mitchell participates in activity without disrupting class.

Mitchell has clay formed and stored for use for next class period.

Algebra 1 class:

Teacher asks class to get out their assignment to be checked.

Mitchell is talking to peer and does not comply.

Teacher ignores Mitchell’s talking and Mitchell does not work on his assignment.

English 10:

Mitchell is asked to remain silent and get his assignment out to pass in.

Mitchell replied, “I don’t have the damn assignment.” .

Mitchell is written up for insubordination and inappropriate use of language

Description of Behavior

(1) Emotional Outbursts:

Data Collection: Data were collected in five minute time sample recordings using a partial interval recording. A positive interval of this behavior was recorded if the behavior occurred at any time during the five minute interval. Data are reported using percentage of positively scored intervals.

Data Collection Outcome: This behavior was observed on two occasions once during English 10 and twice during World History. On the first occasion, the behavior occurred for 12 out of the 30 minute intervals. On the second occasion, the behavior occurred for 10 out of the 30 minutes intervals.

(2) Noncompliant behavior

Data Collection: Using the five minute time sample, this behavior occurred in three settings. On the first occasion the behavior occurred for 15 of the 30 minutes. On the second occasion, the behavior occurred during the entire 30 minutes. On the third occasion, the behavior occurred for 10 of 10 minutes.

Antecedent Analysis

In an antecedent analysis, one tries to identify the events, situations and circumstances that set the occasion for a higher likelihood of the behavior and those that set the occasion for a lower likelihood. Analysis of these variables allows a more specific intervention as well as identification of environmental mediators to more fully assess the maintaining variables (Scott, T., Anderson, C., & Spaulding, S., 2008). Based on the functional assessment interviews and structured observations, the emotional outbursts behavior can occur during any instructional class period (Scott, T., Anderson, C., & Spaulding, S., 2008). It is reported that this behavior usually occurs when the teacher makes a request for Mitchell follow class procedures or produce classwork. During the structured observations, Mitchell exhibited this behavior during English 10 instruction after the teachers request for the assignment was made. During World History, Mitchell did not have his homework and continued to talk even when the teacher specifically requested he remain quiet during instructional time.

Function of the Behaviors

The functions of these behaviors produce attention, escaping the assigned task, and being removed from the classroom. In Mitchell’s situation, the function of his behavior appears to be avoiding academic classwork.


Kerr, M., & Nelson, C. M. (2010). Strategies for addressing behavior problems in the classroom

(6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Scott, T., Anderson, C., & Spaulding, S. (2008). Strategies for developing and carrying out

functional assessment and behavior intervention plans. Preventing School Failure, 52(3),

39–50. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete