Student replies- Functional Behavioral Assessment approach

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review the primary posts of your classmates and respond specifically and substantially (no less than 100 words) to at least two other students.

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Student Post one

Discuss in detail why the choice of a Functional Behavioral Assessment approach that utilizes principles of Behavior Analysis should be considered superior to previous iterations of assessment for problem behaviors. In your discussion, be sure to include reference to at least two of the following “old school” methods of behavior assessment: the diagnostic model, topography-based, case-based, or team preference-based approaches.

The Functional Behavior Approach (FBA) was a significant step forward for the psychological community. Prior to its generation, behavioral research and interventions were less individualized, significantly less effective, and more based on the form instead of the function of a behavior. According to Steege and Watson (2009), when preparing for a behavioral intervention, the strategies were not chosen based on what would have been the most beneficial option for the individual in question. For instance, Steege and Watson (2009) go on to describe team preference-based approaches which would occur when a team chose the type of intervention they would use based on what they preferred, as opposed to what might be most effective. The authors go on to say that certain interventions become favored based on qualities such as which requires the least amount of effort, if they worked for a different individual in the past, or if it “involve[s] skills already in the teacher’s repertoire” (2009). Case-based interventions, another antiquated method for deciding which assessments to use, would transpire if a psychologist (or group of psychologists) were to choose certain techniques based on if its intervention was effective in a previous case with a person who exhibited similar target behaviors (Steege and Watson, 2009). Steege and Watson (2009) claim that around the 1980’s, upon the popularization of the FBA, there was a significant shift from simply addressing only the form of a behavior, to also analyzing its function.

Discuss some specifics related to research, empirical background, and legal issues that would justify the choice of a Functional Behavioral Assessment as a primary method for behavior assessment. Include reference to at least two specific research or study examples from Chapter 2 to back up your response.

Justifying the use of an FBA can be accomplished through some specifics in its research, empirical background, and legalities. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) even specifies the use of an FBA as a means of collecting research information as part of a behavioral intervention plan (Steege and Watson, 2009). Part of an FBA, the study of how consequences can influence future behaviors, was influenced (though maybe not directly) by Edward Thorndike’s “law of effect” which theorized that cats behaved in this same way (Steege and Watson, 2009). The “law of effect” contributed to the objective study of observable behavior, its resulting circumstances, and how they impact the occurrence of future behaviors. According to Steege and Watson (2009), B.F. Skinner’s research on operant conditioning further contributes to the concept of behavior being reinforced by its consequences. Assessing the consequences of a behavior as part of an FBA may provide a psychologist with information on what is functioning to promote the occurrence of a problem behavior.


Steege, M., & Watson, T. S. (2009). Conducting School-Based Functional Behavioral Assessments, Second Edition: A Practitioners Guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Student post two

Before the introduction of a Functional Behavior Assessment approach, interventions were handled differently. The assessment would typically be based on the practitioner’s preferences and knowledge. They would more than likely use interviewing methods they deemed necessary, used treatments or procedures that they were best knowledgeable in, and implemented treatment plans that they preferred. A topography-based intervention is when researched strategies are applied to similar cases based off of the same topographically similar behaviors. Case-based interventions is when it is thought that an intervention that seemed effective with another person who had the same behaviors would also work for their current patient. A team preference-based intervention usually involves choosing an intervention because they are either familiar with it, it has been proven to work in the past, it fits into the current setting (school/classroom), they have the prior knowledge to implement it, and it follows necessary policies that are in place.

An FBA is superior to previous methods because it began to focus on the environment surrounding the problem behaviors and not the form of the behavior. By focusing on identifying a diagnosis, it takes away from actually trying to help the client solve the problem behaviors that are occurring as a result. According to Steege (2009), “Given that interventions matched to the function of behavior typically result in more effective and efficient outcomes compared to interventions based on the form of behavior, the intervention developed for each individual should be distinctly different from the interventions developed for the others.” With an FBA, an individual treatment plan is able to be made that would better suit the needs of the patient.

Based on Newcomer & Lewis’ comparing the effectiveness of function-derived versus topographically derived interventions, Steege (2009) states that “Interventions derived from an FBA are more effective than those based on topography, particularly for difficult cases or cases where the student has been labeled “intervention-resistant”; however, interventions that use very powerful differential reinforcement programs may be equally successful as those that are based on function.” The Individuals with Disabilities Act allows there to be access for students to receive the needed care and revised educational plans that would best suit their educational needs. It is mandated that the IEP team meet within 10 days to develop a functional behavioral plan in order to gather relevant information on the child. Because of this act and similar ones, a student is able to receive the correct help through the use of an FBA.


Steege, M. W. (2009). Conducting School-Based Functional Behavioral Assessments, Second Edition, 2nd Edition. Retrieved from…

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