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Functional Behavior Assessments: Sample & Template

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Are you interested in using a functional behavior assessment to manage behaviors in your classroom? This lesson will explain what an FBA is, how it is conducted, who is involved as well as examples to guide you.

What is an FBA?

A functional behavior assessment (FBA) seeks to determine what happens before, during, and after a specific behavior for the purpose of changing or eliminating the behavior. An FBA is generally used for behaviors that are severe and/or cause safety concerns. An official FBA is usually conducted by a school psychologist and requires parental consent. However, as a classroom teacher, it is beneficial for you to understand how an FBA works as you may be called for your input and observations.

FBA Components

1. Define the Target Behavior: This is the behavior you wish to change. Be specific in your definition. Do not say 'Johnny has outbursts', instead say that 'Johnny will scream, throw objects, and leave the assigned area'.

2. Data Collection: In this step, you want to get as much information you can. Use the following questions to collect data:

  • Time - When the behavior does/does not occur (certain time of day, certain subjects, before an event, after an event)?
  • Where - What is the specific location of the behavior (classroom, cafeteria, math center, computer lab)?
  • People - Who is present when the behavior is most/least likely to occur (certain students, assistant, specific teachers)?
  • Other Conditions - Settings the behavior does/does not occur in (in small groups, during unstructured time, independent work time)
  • What typically occurs before the behavior (assigned a certain task or placed in a small group)?
  • What typically occurs after the behavior (student is sent to office or redirected by a teacher)?
  • Are their certain conditions that seemed to be present for each instance? After a late bus? Only on Taco Day? When it rains? When the student wears certain shoes?

This lets you know what the reinforce is. A reinforcer is what the students gets out of the behavior. No piece of information is irrelevant.

3. Determine the Function: Generally, there are two functions for behaviors: to get/seek something desired or to escape/avoid something undesired. Is the student trying to get attention or stimulation, or trying to get a preferred activity? Or is the student trying to get out of a certain activity or task, or away from a certain person, place, or situation. The information you collected in step 2 will assist you in determining the function.

4. Teach a Replacement Behavior: The student will still need to ask for attention, so model and instruct the appropriate way to do so. For example, if the function is to escape or avoid reading, there might be a skill deficit and reading is frustrating the student. You would tutor the student in the deficit area.

FBA Template

You can use the following template as a guide for conducting an FBA. The words in parenthesis are there to help you fill in each section; you do not need to use them if you chose to copy and paste this template.

FBA Form

Student Name:

Date:

Sources of data: (interviews, observations, behavior logs, checklist etc.)

Interview information reported by: (teacher, parent, student, staff etc.)

Completed by: (the person(s) who wrote this report)

Description of target behavior(s): (if there is more than one problem behavior focus on the 2-3 most severe, think in terms of safety and academic hindrance)

Describe the behavior in specific and observable terms: (what does the behavior look like, how does it sound, does its intensity decrease or increase as it continues, how long does it last etc.)

Estimated frequency: (once a day, once a week, three times an hour etc.)

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