• Task Analysis

    Posted by Katie Justice on 4/19/2019 7:00:00 AM

    Within the new IIEP system, if the case conference committee determines that an FBA is required, the team must describe the plan to monitor the effects of the environmental supports or accommodations provided.  One of the available types of data collection is a task analysis/checklist. A task analysis is the process of taking a more complicated/complex skill and breaking it into smaller, more teachable steps. Each task analysis should be individualized to the student based on their particular skill level.  These are very helpful when tracking information on a student’s ability to complete activities of daily living skills such as beginning of the day routines, toileting, teeth brushing, dressing, hand washing, jobs that have a specific sequence etc. Many of the day-to-day activities that we perform involve many complex steps that we complete without much thought or attention to what we are doing.  For example, when washing our hands, we stand at the sink, turn on the water, wet hands, pump soap in hand, rub hands with soap, rinse hands, turn the water off, grab a paper towel, rub our hands with the towel, throw the paper towel in the trash, and then turn off the lights. So, when we are attempting to teach a student these steps, it is helpful to split these complex activities up into a smaller more systematic units of teaching a skill.

    With some learners, these individual steps can require multiple teaching trials before the student becomes independent.  Task analysis recording sheets can help keep track of the teaching trials required to independence, as well as the prompt level required for each step. These recording sheets can provide helpful information on how many teaching trials are typically required for the student to learn the skill, and what type of prompts the student responds to.  The goal is to teach each step to independence while shaping the behavior from more intrusive to less intrusive prompts. Examples below show a means of collecting this information as well as outlines the prompt hierarchy from most intrusive to least.



    Task Analysis

    When teaching these behaviors, there are three different ways that a student can be taught these skills which include: forward chaining, backward chaining, and total task chaining.  In forward chaining you begin by teaching the sequence starting with the first step, and reinforcing independence after the first step, then providing more intensive prompts from the remainder of the sequence.  Once the first step is consistently independent, the teacher then moves on to decreasing the prompt level on the second step, providing reinforcement, and then providing more intensive prompts for the remainder of the sequence.  

    In backwards chaining, the teacher would provide more intrusive prompts for all of the steps of the sequence until the last step.  The teacher would then provide a less intrusive prompt, and then reinforce. Once that last step is independent, the prompts would fade from the end of the sequence up to the beginning.  

    In total task chaining, the prompts can be faded throughout the whole sequence.  This can be utilized in skills where the learner might have splinter skills but can do different parts of the sequence independently.

    Below is a link for an online data program in excel in which you can input the data and it was create a cumulative graph of the skills learned.


    Katie Justice  Katie Justice, BCBA


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  • ScatterPlot

    Posted by Katie Justice on 2/8/2019 7:00:00 AM

    Last time I wrote about interval recording and some of the effective information we can get with that type of data tracking.  Within that article I mentioned how we can utilize that information in a scatterplot in order to help identify patterns that may help us in our interventions.  A scatterplot is a form of interval data collection that can help bring light to what time of the day and/or day of the week the target behavior is most likely occurring. Just as interval recording, a scatterplot is split up into specific, consistent time periods but it includes multiple days/weeks of information at a time.  

    Data 1

    If the target behavior occurs during that time, it would be signified within that time interval.  Once multiple days have been collected, it can provide valuable information about how often a behavior is occurring and when it is most likely occurring.  In the example below, this student had consistently far more behavioral episodes in the afternoon than in the morning. This information allowed us to make some environmental changes that better helped support the student in the afternoon.

    Data 2

    Scatterplots are another easy, but informative means of collecting data.  It really helps get a “bigger picture” of what is going on and finding patterns in behavior.  Below are more links to data sheets and information on scatterplot data.



     Katie Justice  Katie Justice, BCBA

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  • Interval Recording

    Posted by Katie Justice on 1/11/2019 7:00:00 AM

    Often times behavioral goals are written for a percentage of the day, but many times I hear of people unsure of how to really measure a percentage of the student’s day. Some are split up by blocks or periods, but it has been found that those times are inconsistent which can impact the accuracy of the data that we receive. For instance, if they got a mark during homeroom, which is 15 minutes long, compared to no mark during language arts, which is 45 minutes long, it may look as if they scored 50%, whereas they actually spent more time engaging in appropriate behaviors than not. That being said, percentages can still be very helpful information regarding a student’s behavior and/or the effectiveness of an intervention if done correctly.  One way in which to collect a percentage of a students day is by collecting Interval Recording Data. This is a means of documenting rather a behavior did or did not occur during a particular time period. Percentages give us an estimation of the behavior, not an exact measure such as frequency and duration data, but it can still give us solid information on what is occuring.

    Interval recording is done by splitting up a day or a period of time into consistent time intervals.  If you are wanting to get a percentage of the day, you may split up the intervals into 5, 10, and/or 30 minutes blocks throughout the entire day. Here are some examples of some interval recording data sheets:


    interval recording

    If a behavior occurred within that time period, you would signify that the behavior occurred during that interval by either putting a + or - or labeling the specific behavior that occurred such as noting down 1, 2, or 3 in the examples above.  Within this measurement, either desired behaviors can be targeted or maladaptive behaviors that is hoped to be decreased.

    Goal (behavior to increase): Billy will stay in his assigned area 80% of the school day.

    Measurement: If Billy stays in his assigned area for the entire interval, he would get a + whereas if he got out of his assigned area at all within that interval he would get a -.  



    Goal (Behavior to decrease): Billy will refrain from physical aggression 90% of the school day.

    Measurement: If Billy refrains from physical aggression for the entire interval, he would get a +, whereas if he engaged in physical aggression he would get a -.

    example 2

    Though it might appear as if it is time consuming considering the interval lengths, it is important to note that the data sheet does not have to be completed every interval.  For instance, in the example above, the student engaged in physical aggression at 1:56 and 2:32, so the teacher noted it on the sheet when that behavior occurred. She only had to note on the sheet twice, knowing that the remainder of the times were all + marks, thus getting the same information.

    Example 3

    Interval recording can be a very easy and effective means of collecting important information regarding the student’s day.  This information can also be utilized in a scatterplot to look for information such as time of day, or specific days of the week in which a behavior is more likely to occur. Below are more links regarding interval recording and data sheets:





    Katie Justice  Katie Justice, BCBA

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  • Frequency and Rate Recording

    Posted by Katie Justice on 11/16/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Frequency and rate recording is a means of collecting data by counting each occurrence of the behavior within a specific amount of time.  Frequency is utilized when the length of the observation time is consistent such as observing for an hour each observation, or collecting data for a period or a block that is the same each day (e.g., Jimmy left his seat 3 times during art on Monday and 2 times on Tuesday).  Rate is utilized when the observation time varies each time and a consistent measure is needed. This is calculated by dividing the number of times the behavior has occurred by the length of the observation (e.g., Lauren raised her hand 30 times in a 10 minute observation, a rate of 3 hand raises per minute).  Frequency data is a great form of data collection when the focus is on behaviors that you hope to increase as well as decrease. Frequency data should be used when there is a clear and observable start and end to the behavior, when the behavior is occurring at a rate that it is manageable to collect accurate data, and with behaviors that do not occur for an extended amount of time.  Some examples of instances that you might use frequency and rate recording is when tracking task initiation, task completion, raising a hand, elopement, self-injurious behavior, correct/incorrect responses and asking for breaks. There are a number of creative ways in which you can collect frequency recording such as utilizing a clicker, moving pennies from on pocket to another and/or tallying on a sheet.  Below is a link to some frequency data collection forms.


      Katie Justice  Katie Justice, BCBA

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  • Duration Recording

    Posted by Katie Justice on 10/4/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Duration Recording is a means of collecting information on the length of a specific behavior by noting the time the behavior begins and ends.  This form of data collection is effective when there is a clear beginning and end to the behavior, when the length of time the behavior occurs is a primary concern, and not behaviors that start and stop quickly or occur at a high frequency. Frequency counts (how often the behavior occurs) are used here.

    Some examples of target behaviors in which duration recording would be effective are: staying in an assigned area, appropriately waiting, time on task, time out of the classroom, and time spent working on an assignment. Once there are multiple data points, the time can be calculated by the total duration, percentage and/or average duration.  When calculating a percentage, the total length of time the behavior occurred during the observation would be divided by the total length of the observation. For example, Jonny sat in his seat for 28 out of the 60 minutes. Thus, 28 / 60 = 46.7% that he sat in his seat. When calculating the average duration, the total length of time the behavior occurred is divided by total occurrences.  For example, Jonny sat in his seat for 3 minutes, 7 minutes, and then 5 minutes. Three plus 7, plus 5 = 15 / 3 = an average of 5 minutes sitting. Duration Recording can be used with behaviors that you want to increase as well as behaviors you want to decrease. It is very effective information to identify if a particular intervention is successful for the student. Below are some links to Duration Recording data sheets.



     Katie Justice  Katie Justice, BCBA

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