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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #161
CE Offered: BACB
Novel Applications of Functional Analyses and Choice Assessments to Address Problem Behavior Impeding School Success
Sunday, May 24, 2015
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
212AB (CC)
Area: EDC/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Matthew O'Brien (The University of Iowa)
Discussant: Eric Boelter (Seattle Children's Hospital)
CE Instructor: Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D.
Abstract: Functional analysis methodology, which focuses on identification of the contexts and variables that evoke and maintain problem behavior, continues to be the "gold standard" in evaluation of problem behavior. This technology has been successfully applied to problem behaviors impeding school success, resulting in effective interventions to decrease problem behaviors and improve outcomes in the school setting. However, the standard procedures developed by Iwata et al. (1982/1994) may be challenged by constraints of time or setting, ambiguous results, idiosyncratic variables, and low rates of target behaviors in the assessment. Novel applications of functional analyses and choice assessments may be utilized when these challenges exist. Presentations in this symposium will describe novel approaches to functional assessment for problem behaviors leading to interventions for school success. These presentations include a look at the effect of preference for attention quality on behavior in demand contexts, the match between contingency space analysis and intervention effects for problem behavior, the use of functional analysis and choice assessment to eliminate problem behavior in an individual with Asperger’s disorder, and training school practitioners to conduct choice assessments as an alternative to functional analyses. Dr. Eric Boelter will discuss these studies at the conclusion of the presentations.
Keyword(s): choice assessment, functional assessment, problem behavior, school
Training the Use of Choice-Making Assessments to School-Based Challenging Behavior Teams
JOHN F. LEE (The University of Iowa), Brenda J. Bassingthwaite (The University of Iowa Children's Hospital), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Sean D. Casey (The Iowa Department of Education)
Abstract: The Iowa Department of Education contracted with experienced behavior analysts at the Center for Disabilities and Development to provide a statewide training program for challenging behavior teams (CBT) who practice in school settings. The behavior analysts trained CBT members to design, conduct, and make decisions using experimental analyses. In addition to providing direct training on the use of functional analysis (Iwata et al. 1982/1994), the behavior consultants also had to learn either the antecedent analysis or concurrent operants assessments (COA). This study will cover the direct-training model, including the associated skills and expected level of expertise the CBT members were trained by the behavior analysts, the improvement shown in their skills and independent use of choice-making (COA) procedures (Harding et al. 1999) to conduct function-based analyses that lead to interventions, matched to function, for students. Case examples of school-based COAs will be presented to demonstrate some applications of the COA procedures related to problem behavior demonstrated in school settings.
Systematic Examination of the Match Between Contingency Space Analysis and Intervention Effects for Problem Behavior
Meredith Peterson (University of Minnesota), JENNIFER J. MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota)
Abstract: Functional analyses that involve consequent-based manipulations are not always feasible in school settings. Researchers have been exploring ways to use descriptive data and contingency space analyses (CSA) to identify effective interventions for challenging behavior. In this study, we collected descriptive data on behavioral interactions between 4 typically developing middle school students and their teacher and peers in their classrooms. Prior to computing contingency values and plotting the values in a contingency space, we implemented three interventions and a concurrent baseline (no intervention) in an alternating treatments design to evaluate the relative effects of intervention involving positive reinforcement (peer or adult attention) contingent on appropriate behavior and negative reinforcement (escape from tasks) contingent on appropriate behavior. Finally, the intervention that resulted in the greatest improvement in classroom behavior was compared to the results of the CSA. For three of four participants, the most effective intervention was consistent with the results of the CSA. For the fourth participant, the CSA depicted the strongest contingency between challenging behavior and escape but all three interventions were approximately equally effective for improving behavior. Results are discussed in terms of utility of CSA with older, typically developing students in general education middle school settings.
Functional Analysis and Choice Assessment of Problem Behavior for an Adolescent with Asperger's Disorder
MARISSA ALLEN (Western Michigan University), Rebecca Kolb (Western Michigan University), Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Choice analyses may be used adjunctively with functional analyses to improve the understanding and treatment of problem behaviors. This presentation will describe the functional analysis and choice analysis methodology and results used to assess problem behavior for an adolescent diagnosed with Asperger's disorder. The results of the functional analysis indicated that problem behavior was likely maintained by multiple sources of reinforcement with the highest rates of problem behavior occurring in the tangible and escape conditions. A subsequent choice analysis was conducted and the results indicated that problem behavior could be eliminated and compliance with demands could be increased when given the choice between engaging in the targeted problem behavior, avoidance of completing a task, or completing a task and also accessing varying durations of computer time contingent on the choice selected. Results of these assessments are described and the implications for treatment are discussed, including the impact on future school success.
The Effects of High- and Low-Preferred Qualities of Attention on Academic Demands
SARAH WEDDLE (Northern Arizona University), Trina Spencer (Northern Arizona University), Andrew W. Gardner (Northern Arizona University), Alicia Garner (Northern Arizona University), Alex Davidson (Northern Arizona University), Heather Ramsden (Northern Arizona University)
Abstract: Attention is a commonly identified maintaining variable for problem behavior (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003) and different characteristics of attention contribute to the reinforcing value of attention (Piazza, Bowman, Contrucci, Delia, Adelinis, & Goh, 1999). Qualities of attention have been defined in the literature as high- or low-quality and their effects on demands with typically-developing children has been studied (Gardner, Wacker & Boelter, 2009). The current study assessed individual preferences for attention and the impact of attention quality on task demands with three children with disabilities via concurrent operants arrangement. A demand analysis (based on Roscoe, Rooker, Pence & Longworth, 2009) was also conducted prior to a functional analysis. Functional analysis conditions were then constructed based on results of both assessments. The primary purpose was to examine the effects of high-preferred and low-preferred qualities of attention on high-probability and low-probability demands. The results demonstrated clear student preferences for one profile of attention over another, and varying, but unique effects on on-task and problem behavior during the two demand conditions. These results can inform practitioners on the importance of identifying and evaluating antecedent and consequence variables, especially those involving individual preferences for attention and demands with school, clinic and home consultation.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh