Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #242
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluating Procedural Variations and Staff Training of Functional Analysis Procedures
Sunday, May 24, 2020
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 206
Area: AUT/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jessica Lynn Amador (Caldwell University)
Discussant: Richard Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Richard Wayne Fuqua, Ph.D.

Practitioners serving individuals who have interfering behaviors that impact learning and quality of life have an ethical and a legal obligation to assess maintaining variables and to develop a function-based intervention. Conducting a functional analysis has long been considered the gold standard in assessment and treatment of problem behavior. This symposium will present four papers addressing procedural variations of the traditional functional analysis or evaluations of staff training procedures. The first paper will examine the correlation between trial-based and traditional models of functional analysis for adults with autism in community settings. The second paper will present upon the comparative outcomes and social validity measures of trial-based functional analyses (TBFA) to a descriptive data collection method. The third paper will discuss training functional analysis skills with video modeling and video self-monitoring. The final paper evaluated the efficacy of computer-based instruction (CBI) on teaching how to conduct a TBFA with practitioners and evaluated the effects on implementing a TBFA with a confederate. Results are promising that CBI can lead to effective staff training. Collectively, these studies highlight advances in both procedural variations or staff training procedures of functional analyses.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Functional analysis, Staff training, TBFA
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: 1) To identify procedural variations of a functional analysis 2) To identify effective staff training procedures of functional analyses 3) To identify conditions under which procedural variations of functional analyses can be employed

Examining the Correlation Between Trial-Based and Traditional Models of Functional Analysis for Adults With Autism in Community Settings

(Applied Research)
JAMES MARAVENTANO (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Jenna Budge (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)

Challenging behavior is an often-cited barrier to long-term employment and community-based opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While functional analysis (FA) procedures are essential for developing treatment plans to address challenging behaviors, FAs are typically conducted under controlled environmental conditions which do not closely resemble the natural environment. Further, it is possible the function of challenging behavior in controlled environments are different from more naturalistic settings, thus emphasizing the importance of assessing challenging behaviors in the natural environment. Trial-based functional analysis (TBFA) procedures (Sigafoos & Saggers, 1995) may be a more viable method for assessing challenging behaviors in more naturalistic settings where more traditional FA methods may not be feasible. For the present study, TBFAs were conducted for three adults diagnosed with ASD who engage in challenging behaviors (e.g. self-injury, aggression) at their community work and exercise sites. The results from the TBFAs were compared to results of brief (5-minute) FA sessions to determine if the TBFA results align with the more traditional FA methodologies. Further, latency to respond data were collected during TBFAs to further discern behavioral function for unclear results. Results of the TBFAs were then utilized to develop function-based treatments for addressing the challenging behaviors presented by the participants.


ABC Data Collection vs. Trial-Based Functional Analyses: An Assessment Comparison of Severe Problem Behavior of Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
JULIA IANNACCONE (City University of New York Graduate Center; Queens College), Emily A. Jones (Queens College, The Graduate Center, City University of New York), Misbah Bibi (Queens College)

Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) displaying problem behavior face the additional challenges of limited funding and access to effective treatment, along with increased severity of problem behavior, when compared to children. Consequently, questionably effective descriptive assessment methods, such as ABC data, are frequently used. In a broader study evaluating effective treatment of severe problem behavior displayed by adults with ASD, trial-based functional analyses (TBFAs) were conducted to identify the reinforcing variables of problem behavior and guided effective functional communication treatments. Results and social validity of the TBFA were compared to the more common assessment approach used in settings providing treatment to adults engaging in problem behavior, ABC data collection, which many presume to be as effective and efficient, or more, than functional analyses. The two assessment approaches yielded inconsistent functions. Social validity questionnaires resulted in mixed overall preference; however, ABC data scored higher in ease/practicality and TBFA scored higher in objectivity/ effectiveness. These results support the use of TBFA, compared to ABC data, to effectively and efficiently assess problem behavior in adult settings.


Training Functional Analysis Skills With Video Modeling and Video Self-Monitoring

(Applied Research)
HALEY CIARA HUGHES (Western Michigan University), Richard Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University), Shanice Carlson (Western Michigan)

Board Certified Behavior Analysts have an ethical obligation to first conduct a functional assessment (PECC, 2014, 3.01a) to identify the controlling variables for reducing challenging behaviors. The Functional Analysis (FA) yields more accurate results than other types of functional assessment (Iwata & Dozier, 2008), making this type of assessment an important practitioner skill to acquire. Despite being considered a gold standard for training a variety of skills, behavioral skills training (BST) is often very time intensive on the part of the trainer (Iwata et al., 2000). Video self-monitoring (VSMN) may be an alternative, effective way to train students to implement FAs (Field et al., 2015). This study evaluated the efficacy of several training strategies on student implementation of FA skills, including interventions featuring instruction plus video modeling (IVM), and VSMN, with and without feedback. Results revealed that IVM produced a notable, but insufficient, improvement in performance. All participants showed further performance improvement with the addition of VSMN and VSMN plus feedback.

Evaluating The Effects of Computer-Based Instruction to Teach Trial-Based Functional Analysis to Practitioners
(Applied Research)
JESSICA LYNN AMADOR (Caldwell University), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University), Andrew W. Gardner (University of Arizona - College of Medicine - Department of Psychiatry)
Abstract: Children who engage in problem behavior are often mainstreamed and educated in the public schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that special education teachers address students’ interfering behavior in the least restrictive environment. A trial-based functional analysis (TBFA) is a form of a functional behavior analysis whereby conditions are embedded naturally into scheduled activities of the school day to determine environmental variables responsible for problem behavior. For educators to be included in this process, it is important that staff are trained effectively and efficiently. Computer-based instruction (CBI) offers advantages as staff training and may require less time, less supervision, and permit training across multiple people. The efficacy of CBI on teaching how to conduct a trial-based functional analysis to practitioners remains unknown. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of CBI on teaching how to conduct a TBFA with practitioners and evaluated the effects on implementing a TBFA with a confederate. Results are promising that CBI can lead to effective staff training.



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