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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) - Topic 10

What is it?

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is aimed at identifying the type and source of reinforcement that maintains problem behavior. The idea behind the FBA is to determine reinforcement contingencies for problem behavior; develop interventions to decrease the occurrence of these behaviors; and increase adaptive behavior by altering these contingencies. Because many behaviors are learned through positive, negative, and/or automatic reinforcement each behavior has a function. These functions (e.g., attention condition, escape condition, tangible condition, play condition, and alone condition) can be assessed by using FBA methods. These methods are functional analysis, descriptive assessment, and indirect assessment (Neef, & Peterson, 2007).


Why is it important?

While the topography of behavior demonstrates little useful information about under which conditions behavior occurs, the function of the behavior reveals useful information that shows when, how, and why a behavior occurs. Thanks to this useful knowledge, educators make interventions that aim to manipulate environmental variables (e.g., antecedent variables) to decrease problem behavior. In other words, FBA can lead to effective interventions by altering antecedent variables to prevent problem behavior, identifying reinforcement contingencies, and selecting appropriate reinforcement for alternative replacement behavior (Neef, & Peterson, 2007).

Neef, & Peterson (2007). Functional Behavior Assessment. In J.O. Cooper, T.E. Heron, & W.L.

Heward, Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed, p. 500-524). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/

Merrill Prentice Hall

Web Links

Information on using FBAs

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