ABC Data Collection: Form & Template

Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

What causes student misbehavior? Though it's impossible to know the answer to this question, tools can help you understand your student's problem behaviors. Learn about how to use an ABC data collection template in this lesson.

ABC Data Collection

Ms. Rubin is concerned about her student Tommy's aggressive behavior. She has had to intervene several times to stop Tommy from distracting or even hurting a classmate. She decides she needs to create a plan to deal with Tommy's problem behavior, so she begins by using an ABC data form to gather data that will help her understand his behavior.

Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) data forms are observation tools used to gather information about events happening in a student's environment. You can use them to record information about a behavior and to better understand it. Begin by identifying a target problem behavior to observe. Then, record instances of this behavior each time they happen along with antecedents and consequences.

Let's take a closer look at each part of an ABC data form.


The activity describes what was going on when the behavior happened. It includes the location or setting.

  • Where was the student?
  • What was the general class activity at the time?


The antecedent is the event that happens before a problem behavior.

  • What was the student doing at the time?
  • Who was there, and what did they do?
  • What was the environment like? (Sights, sounds, smells, number of people, etc.)


The observed behavior describes the student's problem behavior.

  • What is an objective description of the behavior?
  • What specific behaviors describe the overall problem behavior?


The consequence is what happens after the target behavior.

  • What does the student get out of the behavior?
  • Does the student get out of doing something? (Avoidance)
  • Does the student get some reward out of it?
  • What might the student be trying to communicate with the behavior?

ABC Data Form Example

Ms. Rubin uses the ABC data form for a week to collect data on Tommy's problem behavior. Here is her completed form:

Student: Tommy

School: Study Elementary School

Target Behavior: Tommy puts his hands on other people aggressively. This can be in the form of pushing, hitting, kicking, pinching and punching.

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