Functional assessment and treatment: Using data from informant assessments to develop functionally based interventions to reduce problem behavior in general education classrooms
Functional assessment refers to any and all behavioral assessment methods used to identify or clarify functional relationships between behaviors and antecedent and consequent events. Functional assessment is often presented as a three-stage process involving informant assessment techniques, direct observation assessment techniques, and experimental or functional analyses. Recent literature has shown that interventions based on the identified function of the problem behavior have been effective in reducing the problem behavior displayed by students in general education classroom settings. Although functional assessment procedures have been effective in identifying the function of problem behaviors and leading to the development of functionally based interventions, the efficiency of using a three-stage process has been questioned because of the time involved and expertise required to conduct the assessments. Consequently, an indirect functional assessment methodology is needed that (a) focuses on environmental events commonly associated with problem behaviors found in general education settings, (b) is easily completed by practitioners with minimal amounts of training, and (c) provides useful hypotheses that can potentially lead to effective functionally based interventions. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to evaluate an informant assessment instrument designed to address these specific needs. Specifically, this project evaluated if functionally based interventions designed from information provided by the Functional Assessment Informant Record for Teachers (FAIR-T) were effective in reducing problem behavior exhibited by students in general education classroom settings. The FAIR-T suggested that teacher attention maintained problem behavior for 3 of the students, whereas peer attention maintained problem behavior for the other 2 students. Interventions based on these identified functions were effective in reducing the occurrence of problem behavior for all 5 participants. In addition, increases in work completion percentages were observed for 3 of the students according to teacher report.