Chapter 21: Direct Behavioural Assessment: What to Record and How
In measuring behaviour directly,
6 general characteristics should
be considered: topography,
amount, intensity, stimulus
control, latency, and quality
Characteristics of Behaviour to
Topography of Behaviour
Topography: the specific
movements involved in
making a response.
Eg) if a teacher wants to
shape arm raising by a child w/ dev disabilities as a means of getting attention in a class, the teacher might 1 ID
the measurable lvls of arm raising described in Table 21-1
Amount of Behaviour
1. Frequency (or rate) of behaviour: the number of instances a behaviour occurs in a given time.
3 ways to track frequency w/ minimal
time (using an observer is time
Golf counter: counter that counts
to 99 by pressing a button for
each instant the b occurs
Electronic calculator: you press
+1 for each instance the B occurs,
and it tracks the total.
Hand-held computers: record
more than one behaviour; or
records the # of one behaviour
done by multiple people
Frequency graph: each data point
represents the total number of
elements completed during each session.
Con: difficult to see differences b/w conditions when the occurrences are inconsistent and small. So use
Cumulative graph: each response for a condition during a session is added to the total response of all
previous sessions for that condition.
Eg) if there were no responses in sessions 1,2, and 3, then you have a cumulative total of zero (horizontal
slop). If there you have a 3 responses on session 4, you have a cumulative total of 3 plotted for session 4.
If you have 2 responses on session 5, you add that to the # responses in session 4. So for session 5, you
have a cumulative total of 5, so you plot your point at 5.
Slope of the line represents the rate of response. It can never decrease.
o Steep line = high response rate; flat line = no response.
Usually preferred over f graph when comparing 2< behaviours or conditions and when the diffs are small.
2. Duration of behaviour
Relative duration of behaviour: the length of time that it occurs w/in some period (sum of its duration ÷
Used when applying frequency leads to ambiguous data
Eg) for temper tantrums, should each response be separate (each cry, scream, kick)? Or should we count
each tantrum episode? Other examples to use this are listening attentively, sitting in one’s seat, watch TV, talking on phone,
taking coffee breaks.
Intensity of behaviour: the intensity, magnitude, or force of a response
Usually uses instruments to measure intensity
Eg) voice loudness, use voice meter; grip pressure, use dynamometer.
Measures of force are common in sports.
Machines assess how hard a pitcher can throw a baseball, or a hockey player can shoot a hockey puck
The speed of an obj is used to infer the force with which it was propelled (physics!)
Stimulus control of behaviour
Stimulus control: the degree of correlation b/w a stimulus and a response
Eg) Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities (ABLA) by Nancy Kerr and Lee Meyerson: assesses the ease w/ which
persons w/intellectual disabilities are able to learn 6 stimulus-discrimination levels
Lvl 1: imitation: tester puts an obj into a container and asks the client to do so
2: position discrimination: tester reps red box and yellow can in fixed Left-Right (L-R) positions and req. a
client to place an object in the L-container.
3: visual discrimination: client must place a neutral nonmatching obj in the Y-can independent of it’s position
when the teacher says, “put it in”
4: visual match-to-sample: client must voluntarily place a Y- cylinder into the Y-can, and a R-cube into the R-
box, when the can and cube are randomized in L-R positions
5: auditory discrimination: When in fixed L-R positions, a client is under the control of auditory cues when
consistently placing a nonmatching obj in the right container when tester randomly says “red box” or Yellow
6: auditory-visual combined discrimination: client correctly puts nonmatching obj into Y-can or R-box when
the positions of co