Making Behavioral Observations PowerPoint Presentation, PPT - DocSlides

Making Behavioral Observations PowerPoint Presentation, PPT - DocSlides

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Useful in the Assessment Process. Bruce M. Gale, PhD. Clinical Psychologist. PENT 2015 Northern/Southern California Forums. website: . phone: 818-788-2100 x1 contact: . ID: 570600

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Making Behavioral Observations Useful in the Assessment Process

Bruce M. Gale, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

PENT 2015 Northern/Southern California Forums


phone: 818-788-2100 x1 contact:


What are some reasons we observe behavior?

As part of psychoeducational or FBA assessment;Progress Monitoring to determine the effectiveness of a behavior intervention plan or direct treatment plan;To assess use of effective classroom management techniques


How many times to observe?

Psychoed: Elementary: 1-2 times, possibly first one longer, and a second follow up that slightly overlaps the same time period (or two entirely different periods, depending upon reason for observation).Middle/High - 1-2 most challenging classes and 1-2 most successful classes. Can be helpful to do one observation on a shortened day schedule.

FBA Elementary: 2-3 times, cover overlapping time period on two occasions, then, if needed a third.

Middle/High - Two most challenging classes and two most successful classes, consider replicating some classes.Psychoed: Elementary: 1-2 times, possibly first one longer, and a second follow up that slightly overlaps the same time period (or two entirely different periods, depending upon reason for observation).

Middle/High - Two most challenging classes and two most successful classes


How do we choose behavioral targets?

Behavior presents clear and present danger;Interferes with functional daily activities;Occurs frequently or for long durations;Disrupts daily routines, drains teacher resources, or student time;Is developmentally appropriate;Are considered “keystone” behaviors that lead to development of other behaviors;Occurs early in the response chain;Involves teaching appropriate rather than inappropriate behavior;Is more likely to be reinforced in the student’s nature environment;Is particularly annoying or “troublesome.”

Source: Skinn, C.H., Dittmer, K, & Howell, L. Direct Observation in School Settings. (2000). In Behavior Assessment in Schools: Theory, Research & Clinical Foundations, Shapiro E.S., & Kratochwill, T.R. (Eds)., Guilford; New York


Possible Observation Goals

Observe executive function in action in a naturalistic setting;

See how the student interacts with peers;

Observe student’s overall level of arousal in class, outside on the yard;

Look for signs of comprehension difficulties;

See how the student behaves compared to his or her peers;

Observe the teacher’s teaching style and use of behavioral and social learning principles in class.


How Popular are School Observation Methods?

Wilson and Reschly (1996) surveyed over 1,000 school psychologists and found that structured observations of behavior were ranked as the first choice method of assessment from a choice of 26 types.

Most clinicians reported that they conducted more than 15 behavioral observations per month.

Wilson, M.S. & Reschly, D.J. (1996). Assessment in school psychology training and practice. School Psychology Review, 25, 9-23.


Six strategies to keep in mind for successful observations



Elements of a Successful Observation

Determine when and where you are going to observe

[Ultimately it depends upon the referral question(s)]

30-45 minutes prior to recess/nutrition, switch to voice dictation during break time, continue with 30-45 minutes after nutrition/recess. (Can substitute lunch)

Observing first thing in the morning, arrival and first hour

Observing toward the end of the day.


Elements of a Successful Observation (cont’d)

Pay attention to the peers and environment.

Count how many in class. Does this change over the course of the observation (e.g., students entering and leaving)

Does student react to these changes?

What are you looking for?

Important to think about “what’s missing” rather th

an focusing too much on the problem behavior.

If student is off-task or slow to start think about executive function skills, comprehension. How well the student is following the curriculum?


Elements of a Successful Observation (cont’d)

Where do you sit and where to look?

If the goal is to have the student be unaware they are being observed, began at a spot in the class where your view of the student is partially obscured and train your gaze across the entire class, even on other students, but still be able to see target student in peripheral vision or to the side.

After a few minutes, move to a new location so you can now see student more clearly.

Alternate so sometimes you see student and other times, they are partially obscured from your view.


Elements of a Successful Observation (cont’d)

Get out into the class

It isn’t like we’re invisible (BG says we’re “hot fudge sundaes on the walls”);

Go around to other students (once you have teacher permission)

, initially nowhere near the target student;

You can ask what the assignment involves, if this is new, or anything that is curriculum-relevant

Eventually ask students nearby and pay attention to whether student notices or spontaneously offers information


Elements of a Successful Observation (cont’d)

Set up analogue situations

Ask for teacher permission in advance and select student + 2-4 peers for any of the following:

Show them a brief animation and ask them a few questions afterwards

Create a brief comic or cartoon with them



click here

or use link below:

Interview the group and ask about any of the following


Favorite foods; b) Sleeping habits; c) Use of technology d)

Other s

tudent habits


What kind of data are you going to collect?

Qualitative Time-Segmented

can easily be turned into...

Event/Frequency Recording Duration

You can also convert #1 above to


Whole vs Momentary vs Partial- Recommend either Momentary or


artial. Momentary for expected long-term behaviors, such as “paying attention.” Partial for interfering behaviors. Can alway come back and collected more detailed data in a subsequent observations as part of progress monitoring.

What kind you choose depends entirely upon the goals of your observation. If it’s a one time initial observation, suggest #2 above. Other data, e.g., frequency or interval, can be extracted from it and used as a baseline.


Remember Why You are Observing

If your goal is the incorporate the observation into the report as a source of data or for progress monitoring, think about what other data sources you can tap into to strengthen the validity of your observations.

Extract items from the BASC or other tools that raters reported and reference those;

Link it up to teacher and/or parent interviews;

Include data from 1:1 testing or student interview as well as your observations.


Final Thoughts

Remember, your data collection should reflect the kind of evaluation you are conducting.You can always extract information from qualitative data to quantify and graph it.Don't be afraid to put in data about other students (anonymously). If 1/3 of the class isn't paying attention, that's important information.

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