The Accuracy of Peer Comparison Observations: A Simulated Analysis

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Classroom observations are frequently conducted with the purpose of comparing the behavior of a target student to that of other peers within the same classroom. A variety of procedures may be utilized by researchers and practitioners to collect such data; however, little is known of the accuracy of estimates of behavior produced by such procedures relative to continuous behavior recording for the target student, peers sampled as a representation of the class, and the class as a whole. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy of estimates of frequently utilized peer comparison observation procedures relative to duration recording. Data were simulated for 4,000 classroom observations, with variations in level of classroom behavior and length of observation being simulated. Results indicated that an Every Fifth interval procedure resulted in the lowest levels of absolute error during single observations for target students, with planned activity checks resulting in the most accurate estimates of class-wide behavior. Despite differences being apparent in level of accuracy of single observations, differences in accuracy across procedures were not apparent when all observations of the same type (i.e., duration, level of classroom behavior, and observation procedure) were compared.

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Behavioral Disorders

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