Operant Behavior

Conducting a FBA

A new student has recently been assigned to R. Dailey’s 1st grade classroom. Read the following scenario to inform you regarding the best approaches to take in returning the classroom to its usual, learning-centered environment.


Jessie has just moved to “Everyone’s Town” and was registered in the local public school, Jackson Elementary School. It is now the middle of October and school has been in session for approximately 8-weeks. Jessie is 6-years-old and in the 1st grade – R. Dailey’s classroom.

Things have gone very well in Ms. Dailey’s classroom since “ Back to School Night” that was held one week before school began. Students are learning and there has been enthusiastic support from parents on “Everybody’s Special Day,” – a program Ms. Dailey designed to increase knowledge of, and appreciation for, the different cultures represented in the classroom.

Almost immediately, Ms. Dailey encountered Jessie’s “tantrum behaviors.” These behaviors primarily consist of falling to the floor and screaming. Needless to say, these behavioral incidents cause a lot of chaos in the classroom. At first, the other children seemed unsure as to how to respond to the behaviors. After a few episodes, some would laugh, point, or put their hands over their ears. The first few weeks that Ms. Dailey encountered these behaviors, she tried to identify why Jessie was upset. She went to her, put her arm around Jessie’s shoulder, and asked her what was upsetting her. Consoling her, she would prompt Jessie to go get some water and come back to the desk. This would end the current behavior episode, but the behaviors continued throughout the day. Finally, after several weeks of these behaviors, Ms. Dailey decided to utilize a “time out” procedure in which Jessie was required to sit in a desk just outside the classroom. The hallway had many pictures on the walls and there were always people walking to and fro. Ms. Dailey would occasionally hear Jessie humming while in time out. Once Jessie was calm for 6-minutes, she would be allowed to return to the classroom. Still, the tantrums continued and seemed to be increasing in frequency.

Dailey realizes that it is important to conduct a FBA to identify the probable function of Jessie’s “tantrum behaviors” in order to design a BIP based on that function.


Conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment according to the following steps: (See Table 10.1: Trinity of Behavior Management in your textbook for guidance).

  1. Conduct an indirect assessment (Interview and Intake Forms can be downloaded in Course Documents)
  2. Conduct direct observation in the classroom: You will need 3-5 days of data at different points in the school day.
  • Operationally define the target behavior.
  • Conduct an A-B-C Assessment (A-B-C Data Sheet can be downloaded in Course Documents)
  • Chart the rate of the target behavior according to date (Chart can be downloaded in Course Documents)
  1. Based upon the A-B-C data, hypothesize the function of the target behavior. (See Table 9.2: Functional Motivations in your textbook)
  2. Based on your understanding of the three-term contingency, and operant behavior, design a behavior intervention plan for Jessie.
  3. Continue to collect data and evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention after 1-week and after 2-weeks by comparing the intervention data with the baseline data with regard to the frequency of occurrence.

Once you have completed the Functional Behavior Assessment, created your behavior plan, and evaluated its effect on the target behavior, write a summary, in essay form (minimum of 3 pages), of the steps in your process and the purpose and importance of each step. Include the following forms (to be attached to your paper after the reference page):

  1. Interview and Intake Forms
  2. A-B-C data sheets
  3. Rate chart of the target behaviors during baseline, Week 1 Treatment, and Week 2 Treatment

You will have to use “creative license” and fabricate your data when developing your A-B-C analysis with regard to the antecedents and consequences. Remember, these important variables will determine the function of the target behavior!

If you use outside sources, remember to cite them in the body of your paper (in-text citations) and then again in your references (reference page). Use APA style; 12-point, Times New Roman font; and double-spaced formatting.

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