Selecting and Defining Target Behaviors

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Selecting and Defining Target Behaviors

Role of Assessment Is extremely important Need to use specific methods to identify and define target behavior Also need to identify relevant factors that may inform or influence intervention

Pre-assessment Considerations Ethical considerations Authority Permission Resources Social validity

Five Phases of Assessment 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Screening / Assessment Defining problem or criteria for achievement Pinpointing target behaviors Monitoring progress Following-up

Screening / Assessment Methods 1. Indirect measures Interviews Checklists 2. Direct measures Tests Direct Observation 3. Environmental Issues

Interviews May need to identify list of potential target behaviors What and when Avoid ‘why’ What is/are the primary concern(s)

Validity issues Issues are verified through data collection Direct observation Use of questionnaires Self-monitoring

Interviewing Significant Others Develop behavioral descriptions What, when, how Avoid ‘why’ Move from general to specific Determine participation

Checklists Provide descriptions of specific behaviors and conditions under which each should occur Can be done alone or with an interview Often are very specific Typically use Likert-scale assessments Some ask about antecedents and

Examples Child Behavior Checklist Adaptive Behavior Scale - School Adaptive Behavior Scale - Residential and Community

Direct Measures Issues with standardized tests Need consistent administration Compares performance to specified criteria Norm-referenced Limitations Do not specify target behaviors Do not provide direct measure of behavior Licensing requirements

Alternative - Direct Observation Direct and repeated Natural environment Identifies potential target behaviors Preferred method

Features of ABC recording Descriptive Temporally sequenced Description of behavior patterns Full attention, 20 - 30 min Observations only, no interpretations Repeat over several days Can use a variety of techniques Time Sampling, etc.

Ecological Assessment Is the data on individual and environment Physical features Interactions with others Home Reinforcement history Evaluate amount of descriptive data required to address current need

Issue – Reactance Is the effects of assessment on behavior being assessed Obtrusive assessment has a great impact Self-monitoring most obtrusive Reduce reactivity Unobtrusive methods Repeat observations Take effects into account Often need two to three self - monitoring weeks for

Defining Target Behaviors Role and Importance of Definitions Definitions required for replication Replication required to determine usefulness of data in other situations Necessary for research

Importance of Definitions to Practitioner Accurate, on-going evaluation requires explicit definition of behavior Operational definition Complete information Accurate and believable evaluation of effectiveness

Two Types of Definitions Function-based Designated according to effect on the environment Topography-based Identifies the shape or form of the behavior

Reasons to Use Functionbased Definitions Includes all members of response class The function of behavior is most important feature Simpler and more concise definitions Easier to measure accurately and reliably

Other Uses When natural outcome is not within control of behavior analyst Logistical, ethical, or safety reasons E.g., Function of elopement is a lost child In these cases, function-based definition by proxy More restrictive definition that keeps behavior within control of analyst

Reasons to Use Topographybased Definitions Behavior analyst does not have direct, reliable, or easy access to functional outcomes Cannot rely on function of behavior because each occurrence does not produce relevant outcome

Other Uses When the relevant outcome is sometimes produced by undesirable variations of the response class E.g., A basketball player scores with a sloppy shot from the free throw line Definition should encompass all response forms that produce relevant outcomes

Writing Target Behavior Definitions Accurate Complete Concise Inclusions Exclusions

Characteristics of Good Definitions Objective Refer only to the observable Clear Readable and unambiguous Complete Delineate boundaries of definition

Purpose of Good Definitions Precise and concise description Reliable observation Accurate recording Agreement and replication

Testing a Definition Can you count number of occurrences? Should answer “Yes” Will a stranger know what to look for based on definition alone? Should answer “Yes” Can you break the target behavior down to smaller, more specific components? Should answer “No”

Setting Criteria for Behavior Change Selected because of importance to clients Increase, maintain, generalize desirable behaviors Decrease undesirable behaviors Valued and meaningful behaviors have social validity

Set Criteria Before Modifying Setting criteria as important as defining Range of acceptability Must identify optimum range prior to modifying Must know when to terminate treatment Eliminate disagreements on effectiveness

Two Approaches for Setting Criteria Assess performance of highly competent people Experimentally manipulate different performance levels to determine optimal results

Prioritizing Target Behaviors Threat to health or safety Frequency 1. 2. 3. 4. Opportunities to use new behavior Occurrence of problem Longevity Potential for higher rates of reinforcement

Prioritizing Target Behaviors Importance 5. Skill development Independence Reduction of negative attention Reinforcement for significant others 6. 7. Social validity Exercise caution when considering

Prioritizing Target Behaviors Likelihood of success 8. Research Practitioner’s experience Environmental variables Available resources Cost-benefit 9. Costs include client’s time and effort

Target Behavior Ranking Matrix Numerical rating of potential target behaviors May need to increase client, parent, and staff participation Resolve conflict Build consensus Can be difficult

Sample Ranking Matrix Behaviors #1 #2 #3 Does this behavior pose a danger? 01234 01234 01234 How long-standing is this problem or deficit? 01234 01234 01234 Will changing this behavior produce higher rate of reinforcement? 01234 01234 01234 How likely is success in changing this behavior? 01234 01234 01234

Monitoring Progress Are you getting the information you want Is it accurate What are problems with the data collection Are their side effects of the data collection Ongoing monitoring is critical to ABA

Conclusions Need good definitions and techniques to identify target behaviors Accuracy at the written and observation level are critical Must know what is INCLUDED Also must know what is EXCLUDED in the definitions and observations

Social Significance Consider whose behavior is being assessed and why Is it unacceptable to change behavior primarily for benefit of others? To what extent will proposed change improve the person’s life? Both questions relate to ethics and philosophy

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