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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

Previous Page


Invited Paper Session #96

Common Mistakes Behavior Analysts Make When Working in Schools (and What to Do Instead)

Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom EF
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Jennifer Austin, Ph.D.
Chair: Bobby Newman (Proud Moments)
JENNIFER AUSTIN (University of South Wales)

Jennifer L. Austin, Ph.D., BCBA-D has been applying the science of behavior analysis to improve outcomes for children and their teachers for over 20 years.  Both her research and clinical work focus on how behavior analytic assessment and intervention strategies can be applied with typically developing children, as well as examining what adaptations may be necessary for making our science “work” in mainstream classrooms.  She has worked with numerous schools in the US and the UK, focusing primarily on those in disadvantaged communities.  Dr. Austin received her PhD from the Florida State University and currently serves as Professor of Psychology and Head of Behavior Analysis at the University of South Wales.  Prior to moving to the United Kingdom, Dr. Austin served as faculty at the University of South Florida, California State University, Fresno and the University of Houston, Clear Lake.  She is the President of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis and a former Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice.


Current statistics regarding problem behavior and academic attainment confirm that schools need behavior analysts more than ever. However, many schools that could benefit from our services do not know we exist (or have misconceptions about what we do). Further, our enthusiasm for helping schools enact meaningful changes in student and teacher behavior may cause us to miss some important contingencies that might impact our effectiveness as behavioral consultants. Drawing on work conducted at the University of South Wales, this presentation will identify some tips for “opening the school doors” for behavior analysis. It also will identify some common mistakes that behavior analysts make in schools, including such areas as functional assessment strategies, intervention planning and approach, and data collection. Importantly, it will provide some potential solutions to these problems, as well as identifying some interpersonal skills that might be useful in improving our efficacy in both mainstream and special education settings.

Target Audience:

Behavior analytic practitioners working in schools (particularly early career behavior analysts)

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify common mistakes that behavior analysts might make when working in schools, including mistakes related to assessment, intervention, and data collection; (2) describe some solutions to common mistakes; (3) identify interpersonal skills that may affect school personnel’s willingness to use behavior analytic strategies; (4) describe some strategies for gaining entry to schools that could benefit from behavior analytic consultation.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh