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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #382
CE Offered: BACB
Toward Competent and Practical Functional Behavior Assessment of Severe Problem Behavior
Monday, May 28, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
204 (TCC)
Area: PRA/TBA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Woods (Melmark, Inc.)
Discussant: Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University)
CE Instructor: James Chok, Ph.D.

The use of functional behavior assessments is mandated in special education settings. The development of functional behavior assessments, including the functional analysis methodology outlined by Iwata et al. (1982/1984), has provided behavior analysts with valuable tools for managing severe problem behavior. Functional behavior assessments allow clinicians to accurately identify the function(s) of problem behavior, and subsequently, identify treatments that map onto the identified function(s). Although functional behavior assessments are essential to developing effective interventions, little is known about how skilled behavior analysts and related professionals are at conducting them. The current symposium will explore the functional analytic skill level of recently credentialed Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) working within a private school setting. Next, the skills of related professionals will be explored within the context of state-wide training program designed to establish competency of functional behavior assessment skills. In addition, methodologies for the practical and efficient delivery of functional analytic services will be discussed, including a comparison of trial-based functional analysis methods and traditional functional analysis methodology across analogue and natural environments.


Functional Analysis Skills Training for Recently Credentialed Board Certified Behavior Analysts

JAMES T. CHOK (Melmark New England), Andrew Shlesinger (Melmark New England), Lisa A. Studer (Melmark New England), Frank L. Bird (Melmark New England)

The current project examined the functional analysis (FA) skills of newly credentialed Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) prior to, and following, formal training. Skills examined included appropriately carrying out the functional analysis conditions outlined by Iwata et al. (1982/1994), interpreting multielement FA graphs using the methodology outlined by Hagopian et al. (1997), determining next steps when FA data is undifferentiated, and selecting function-based interventions once FA data is conclusive. The performance of three participants was examined within a multiple baseline design across subjects. Although performance varied, baseline skill level was inadequate prior to intervention across subjects and skill areas. Skill acquisition was attained for all subjects within four to eight training sessions, the acquired skills were demonstrated effectively during generalization trials, and skills were largely maintained during a 3 month follow-up. The findings suggest that individuals who are board certified in behavior analysis may require additional training prior to conducting functional analyses.


Developing Capacity for FBAs and Behavior Intervention Plans through a State-Wide Training Program

SEAN D. CASEY (Iowa Department of Education), David P. Wacker (University of Iowa), Brenda J. Bassingthwaite (University of Iowa Children's Hospital), Kelly M. Schieltz (University Of Iowa), Tory J. Christensen (University of Iowa), Todd G. Kopelman (University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics), John F. Lee (University of Iowa), Jennifer Kuhle (University of Iowa)

The use of Function-based assessments (FBAs) are mandated in special education who exhibit challenging behavior. The purpose of this project was to assess state challenging behavior specialist (CBS) consultant's specific skills whose job descriptions included the provision of FBAs for the development of appropriate Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). Preliminary data indicated that the consultants self-reported low levels of skill and high needs of training in FBA and BIP development. A training program to teach these skills was evaluated that utilized: hands-on training with experience professionals in FBA and BIP, and a coursework sequence. Dependent variables included: (a) self-assessment ratings, (b) scores on a knowledge examination, (c), direct observations of the consultants implementing FBA's, and (d) scores of sophistication of FBA and accuracy of BIP match to FBA results. Group data from the participating CBS consultants will be evaluated using pre- and post-time series data. The results demonstrate that training produced improvements in CBS consultant's skills of FBA implementation and BIP development. The outcomes of this project illustrate two major findings: (a) that consultants are often insufficiently trained in FBA technologies, and (b) that the training model implemented significantly improved state consultant skills. Discussion of how the project impacts the state's ability to improve services for children with challenging behavior will also be discussed.

Trial-Based Functional Analysis: Changes of Methodology and Data Analysis
TRACI LANNER (Springbrook), Brandon Scott Nichols (School at Springbrook), Sean Field (Western Michigan University), Michele D. Brock (Crossroads School for Children), Cheryl J. Davis (Crossroads School for Children), Thomas L. Zane (Endicott College)
Abstract: The traditional functional analysis methodology has provided a highly predictive way of determining the function of targeted maladaptive behaviors, allowing for more effective treatments to be implemented. Over the past several years, researchers have been studying different permutations of functional analysis methodology and testing different assessment protocols. Trial-based functional analysis is one such evolution, which involves 2-minute duration sessions, with fewer occurrences of the target behavior necessary to determine function. We will present data on several participants who engaged in various problem behaviors, on which we conducted both traditional and trial-based functional analyses. The purpose was to determine the degree of correspondence between the two methodologies. For most participants, the same function was identified regardless of the functional analysis method. These findings suggest that practitioners could conduct trial-based functional analyses in either the analog or natural setting and be confident in identifying the maintaining variables of the target behavior.



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