Instruction in Functional Assessment
Marcie Desrochers, State University of New York
Moira Fallon, State University of New York
Copyright Year: 2014
ISBN 13: 9780989722674
Publisher: Open SUNY
Conditions of Use
This text provides an overview or introduction to (1) functional assessment and (2) teaching functional assessment to others. It provides a good amount of detail to provide working knowledge for teachers and other school staff who may participate... read more
This text provides an overview or introduction to (1) functional assessment and (2) teaching functional assessment to others. It provides a good amount of detail to provide working knowledge for teachers and other school staff who may participate on school teams that are conducting FBAs and/or using FBA results to develop behavior intervention plans. It probably does not have the depth needed as a text for training individuals (e.g., school psychologists, behavior specialists) to conduct FBAs or lead school teams in this process. This text could provide a foundation for knowledge-building, which could easily be supplemented with additional resources for further skill development.
There is good coverage of the technical aspects of functional assessment. I found Chapter 3: Treatment Implications Based on the Functional Assessment to be one of the greatest strengths of this text - full of great information and resources for intervention planning.
The content of this text is highly relevant to anyone working with children who demonstrate challenging behaviors. Chapters 1-3 are appropriate for individuals involved with assessment and intervention for challenging behaviors in schools or other settings. Chapters 4-6 are relevant for individuals who teach functional assessment to others, or supervise novice practitioners.
The authors use language that is accessible to the lay person or education professional, while also presenting the technical terms commonly used in ABA and other fields of psychology. Some sections, especially related to single-case design, may be a bit technical for readers who do not have a background in that area. There are links to a glossary of terms throughout, so readers can quickly obtain more detailed definitions of terms used in the text. The inclusion of many examples and case studies to illustrate concepts, along with opportunities for the reader to practice, make this useful for teaching graduate students.
Overall, there was good consistency with the writing and terminology used. A few times, I would have liked the authors to be more precise with their use of ‘functional assessment’ and ‘functional analysis,’ but this was a minor issue.
This almost seems like two texts in one. Chapters 1-3 could stand alone as an introduction to functional assessment. Each chapter could provide a nice "unit" of learning. Chapters 4-6 could stand alone as a resource for teaching functional assessment or supervising novice practitioners. Chapter 7 includes a variety of useful resources such as forms that can be used for observations/data collection or for teaching basic functional assessment skills. These resources would be helpful as stand alone materials, as well.
The online text is easy to use and navigate. Chapters can be viewed individually, which helps reduce the amount of scrolling.
No grammatical errors noticed in the text.
Although not a primary focus of the text, cultural considerations for using functional assessment with individuals with disabilities are present throughout.
Focused on individuals with developmental disabilities and disruptive behaviors, Instruction in Functional Assessment provides an overview of applied functional analysis. It begins with a clear review of behavior theory and a description of common... read more
Focused on individuals with developmental disabilities and disruptive behaviors, Instruction in Functional Assessment provides an overview of applied functional analysis. It begins with a clear review of behavior theory and a description of common forms of developmental and behavioral difficulties that may be encountered. Functional analysis/assessment is then introduced as the tool for identifying the characteristics of the problem behaviors and their controlling conditions. Treatment planning and implementation come next, along with assessing outcomes. Next, practical materials and case studies for training in functional analysis skills are provided. The book ends with a list of resources for and several blank templates that can be used to support practical implementation of functional analytics skills. Training materials, references, and an extensive glossary complete the volume.
Concepts and processes related to functional analysis are accurately and concisely presented.
The review of literature related to functional assessment is current and extensive. Functional assessment is an established field that began with work in the 1960s, so it is anticipated that looking forward the pace of change will be slow and revisions can be incorporated as needed. Public school classrooms are a focus of the material, but suggestions for adaptation to other settings are provided.
In general concepts and processes were carefully and clearly explained; a glossary was also provided. However, a couple exceptions to such clarity were encountered. Also, coding symbols used in Table 20 were not explained and may pose a challenge for readers; this occurred in a couple of other places as well.
Contents were generally consistent. An exception is that on page 51 a question is posed about “five ways to determine if treatment is effective.” It appears to refer to a list of five aspects of treatment effectiveness listed on page 45. The lack of conceptual/linguistic consistency seemed confusing.
Because the goal of this volume is to facilitate development of the knowledge and skills of functional analysis, most readers will likely wish to use all of this short text. However, those who possess either pertinent knowledge or skills may find the counterpart materials helpful by themselves. The resources may also be of use on their own.
Progression of the material from knowledge to skills and application is clear, as noted above.
No difficulties were encountered.
Grammar and English usage were excellent.
The primary domains of diversity addressed here is those of developmental disability and disruptive behavior. Disruptive behavior involves patterns of behavior or psychological distress commonly found among the mentally ill, persons diagnosed as mental disorders. Because children who manifest developmental disability and disruptive behavior are often placed in public school classrooms, school applications of functional analysis are emphasized. Cultural differences are addressed briefly on p. 28 as well.
Focus questions precede and discussion questions and practice exercises follow most chapters. Numerous charts, diagrams, figures, and recording sheets are provided. Ethical considerations are also addressed.
This text covers the basic tenets of functional behavior assessment with children, including a review of challenging behaviors that children with developmental disabilities may exhibit, methods for assessment and assessment driven treatment,... read more
This text covers the basic tenets of functional behavior assessment with children, including a review of challenging behaviors that children with developmental disabilities may exhibit, methods for assessment and assessment driven treatment, pedagogical approaches to teach knowledge of functional assessment and clinical-decision making, training based on real cases, and resources for interdisciplinary teams. The text is written broadly enough for direct application in a variety of professional training programs, including programs in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) preparing future speech-language pathologists (SLPs). For students pursuing a career in speech-language pathology, functional behavior assessment is an important component of a comprehensive evaluation model to address communication difficulties of children with a range of disabilities. Instructors can take the format of the case studies presented in this text to develop and embed additional case examples based on CSD clinical cases. The text provides an adequate base text to which instructors may provide supplemental material specific to the communication underpinnings of behavior to augment the main text.
The functional assessment strategies presented in the text are empirically-based and rooted in theories of applied behavior analysis.
This text addresses a gap in the literature for school-based CSD students. Behavior challenges of children is the #1 challenge reported by graduate students and their supervisors. The content is relevant to current and future practices. When additional or emerging evidence arises for specific functional behavior strategies or techniques, the structure of the text lends well to incorporating updates as needed.
The text is written in a clear, concise, and well-organized manner. The level of the language is appropriate for advanced undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional level students or trainees. Given the specialization of the topic, there are many technical terms and concepts throughout the text. However, the authors provide a comprehensive glossary of terms to aid the reader. My only suggestion for further enhancing the clarity of the text would be to incorporate a list of the necessary prerequisite knowledge and skills recommended for readers to have prior to reading this text.
The framework and terminology are consistent throughout the text. The types of behaviors and the need for functional behavior assessment extends beyond the developmental disability categories listed in chapter 1. For example, in addition to children with intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, and medical conditions such as epilepsy, children may present with different diagnostic labels but with similar challenging behaviors, such as children with speech and/or language impairment. Speech-Language impairment can be a primary disability, but it may also manifest as a disability secondary to other disabilities, and is the most common disability among young children and school-age children. It would suffice to add more developmental disability categories to Table 1, and then refer broadly to "developmental disabilities" except for case-based examples.
It is feasible to incorporate individual sections of the text as separate modules, either within a single course or across courses. The chapters can stand alone in this way, and be organized for different courses based on the student/trainee level and scope of the course. The text can be flexibly packaged for different courses. I also foresee the text lending well to professional development courses for experienced educators and clinicians. The interdisciplinary focus of the text supports interdisciplinary or interprofessional education.
Each chapter begins with reflection questions that can be used as a pre-reading strategy but also setting the climate in the classroom for discussion. Each chapter ends with a series of discussion questions. These can be used as a post-reading comprehension strategy for students in their independent reading, but also for highlighting key ideas during class meetings. Some of the discussion items can be prompts for written projects. Some of the reflection questions can be used for reflection journal stems. • Case studies provide many opportunities for contextual illustration and in-class practice of FA strategies
The text is easy to navigate, images are clear, and visual features are used to aid the reader.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The cultural context of functional assessment is addressed briefly in chapter 2. Instructors and students of multiple disciplines, including CSD, which focus on culturally relevant and culturally responsive practices, will need to augment this text with additional content for this purpose.
The clickable glossary is very useful, especially the function of the reader being able to return directly from the glossary entry to the place it is used in the text. The literature base is solid and the reference list give good resources for... read more
The clickable glossary is very useful, especially the function of the reader being able to return directly from the glossary entry to the place it is used in the text. The literature base is solid and the reference list give good resources for further inquiry.
The authors’ choice of extant literature used in the text is very thorough and accurate. One inaccuracy noted is the authors’ assertion that functional assessment (FA) is a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. IDEIA includes provisions for the use of functional behavior assessment (FBA) for students with disabilities whose behaviors impede their learning or the learning of others. Assessment is used more in educational settings, as it is not as intrusive as the more experimental “analysis”, in which conditions are manipulated to produce changes in behavior in order to determine the behavior’s function. The authors describe functional analysis, but readers may confuse the different topics when reading research outside of the text.
Functional analysis and assessment have been used and researched for several decades without significant modifications to the methods. This text will be applicable for several years without the need for significant updates, except to add new literature with additional populations of students.
The clarity of the text is excellent for educational practitioners. Chapter one has a significant amount of content that would need supplementary instruction for students who are new to Behaviorism and behavior change principles. The exercises at the end of each chapter help with this, though, by focusing the reader’s attention to important concepts and giving an opportunity to practice new knowledge and skills. The case study activities and blank forms at the end of the book are excellent and could be used as a resource for teacher trainers. As a reader, I am a bit confused by the intended audience of chapters 5 and 6. The book’s initial chapters are written, it seems, for an audience of students who are new to the field of Behaviorism and functional assessment. Chapters 5 and 6, however, are clearly written for teacher educators in an attempt to help them teach college students about functional assessment. While this might be of great benefit to teacher educators, these chapters seem out of place.
The text holds firm to the principles of Behaviorism and to the consistent use of correct functional assessment methods. As a scholar of the field, I found that some inconsistencies with the terms used may lead to confusion. For example, functional analysis is the long accepted term associated with the abbreviation “FA”, but the authors use functional assessment and use the abbreviation “FAn" for functional analysis. These two terms are not the same and should not be used interchangeably, as analysis is an experimental approach and assessment is not. Also see the comments above regarding chapters 5 and 6.
This text is actually broken into much smaller segments of text than most textbooks, making it easier to digest the information in smaller units. Most of the chapters and activities could be arranged to fit a course in functional behavior assessment without undue disruption to the reader.
The topics in the text are presented logically, beginning with an overview of the behavioral principles and building toward the complete understanding of using those principles to determine the function of behavior. Also see the comments above regarding chapters 5 and 6.
The interface is one of the strengths of this text. There are many good examples of behavioral principles and the tables add to the reader’s understanding of the concepts and are well placed in the text. It is visually appealing and easy to follow.
The text is professionally written and there were no noticeable grammatical errors in the text.
The authors incorporate relevant citations for literature that has included racial diversity in the studied samples. It has been well documented in the literature that principles of behaviorism apply across race, ethnic origin, and gender.
This text as a whole would be an appropriate text for students studying low-incidence disabilities, such as the specific developmental disabilities mentioned in the text. Part of the book, such as chapters 1 - 4 would be applicable to a more general population studying behavior change principles.
The text cover more in depth than I had anticipated with regards to Functional Assessment. The breakdown of Functional assessment is easy for individuals to understand and the later chapters are helpful for individuals who will teach the topic in... read more
The text cover more in depth than I had anticipated with regards to Functional Assessment. The breakdown of Functional assessment is easy for individuals to understand and the later chapters are helpful for individuals who will teach the topic in the future. I appreciated case examples, exercises, practice activities, templates, focus and discussion questions. The Glossary has a nice “return” feature which will bring the reader back to the point in the text where the word was. I liked the additional materials in “Resources for Team Members of Interdisciplinary Professionals” which included syllabi ideas, and DVDs related to the topic.
I would feel comfortable using this text and have used several chapters. The material appears accurate from a counseling and psychological perspective with no noticeable bias.
The research and content is up-to-date and the material covered is relevant to students entering the workforce. The material appears to have longevity but as research continues could benefit from a renewal in 4-5 years. These updates should be easy and straight forward to implement. The examples given were accurate and meaningful and should have longevity to them.
No concerns for clarity were noted. It appears easy to read for individuals new to the topic by describing new words and terms as the text progresses. Students in an entry level course expressed no difficulties with the clarity.
No concerns for consistency were noted. It appears easy to read for individuals new to the topic by describing new words and terms as the text progresses.
I have used smaller reading sections with no issues in the past for human service courses. The first few chapters can make great standalone readings especially with the study material and questions at the end of the reading.
The books organization is logical, and it flows well. No concerns were noted.
The book’s interface appears professional with no noticeable concerns and no distracting problems.
No grammatical errors noted.
Cultural concerns are addressed but mildly. Examples from instructors outside of the text would most likely be beneficial.
I particularly appreciate the first several chapters " Challenging Behaviors of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities" "The Methodology of Functional Assessment: Process and Products" and "Treatment Implications Based on the Functional Assessment" as modules in the human service courses to develop foundational knowledge about Functional Assessment.
Very comprehensive review of functional assessment. Includes information about developmental and intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviors which is very helpful as well. I love the case examples, exercises, practice activities,... read more
Very comprehensive review of functional assessment. Includes information about developmental and intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviors which is very helpful as well. I love the case examples, exercises, practice activities, templates, focus and discussion questions, graphs and tables.The literature review is also very thorough. I recommend including the concept of replacement behavior in the glossary.
The book is very accurate in describing the most important concepts related to applied behavior analysis and functional behavioral assessment. One thing I might make more clear is the concept of a replacement behavior serving the same function as the problem behavior. The authors use an example of on task behavior as a replacement behavior for off-task behavior that serves the dual functions of peer attention and escaping demands. Technically, on-task behavior is not a replacement behavior that serves the same function. Requesting peer-attention or a break by asking for it would be more accurately considered a replacement behavior. This does not mean that the intervention that is suggested in the book is not appropriate. I am just concerned about the accuracy of the description of replacement behavior.
I believe that many of the examples, case studies, activities, and cited literature make this book extremely relevant and that it will remain up-to-date or could be updated fairly easily.
The book is very well written and easy to understand. It presents many difficult concepts in very clear, tangible ways so that the reader can grasp the concepts. Also, all the case studies, focus and discussion questions, and activities will help the reader to apply these concepts in real-life settings.
The book is highly internally consistent in terminology and framework. I believe the authors provide equal attention to all the aspects of functional assessment that are important for the learner to understand and apply.
The modularity of the book is excellent. Each of the chapters can stand alone and have sections that are clearly delineated. Also, each chapter has its own activities, questions, sample forms that can supplement the learning of the content.
The book is well organized and flows in a logical sequence. The authors began with the types of disabilities and challenging behaviors that would warrant the use of functional assessment, provide an overview of applied behavior analysis and functional assessment, and then more in-depth instruction of the types of functional assessment as well as the methods of implementation leading to interventions.
The book is free of interface issues. The highlighted terms and activities are very helpful and overall the book is very easy to navigate.
The focus question at the beginning of chapter 3 "What treatment approaches challenging behaviors and increase appropriate behaviors?" does not seem to be grammatically correct. Other than that, I did not notice any grammatical errors in the book.
Under ethical considerations, the authors reference the importance of being non-discriminatory in terms of race, culture and language. However, they did not elaborate on this point or give any examples. They also mentioned the difficulties for teachers when English is a secondary language or behavior is influence by trauma experiences, but they did not explicitly provide ideas for assisting teachers in these areas.
I am excited that I have found this open textbook. I thought that the authors wrote an excellent, useful and thorough text on the subject of functional assessment. I teach a graduate class titled "Behavior Assessment and Intervention" and I plan to use this open textbook in that class.
This book is terrific. It covers not only the specific details of conducting a functional assessment with a variety of populations and contexts but also an explanation of the various theories that are important to understandint the functional... read more
This book is terrific. It covers not only the specific details of conducting a functional assessment with a variety of populations and contexts but also an explanation of the various theories that are important to understandint the functional analysis itself. This means the reader doesn't have to have extensive prior knowledge.
As a psychology instructor, the psychological concepts are very accurate. There are no concerns about the accuracy and I would feel comfortable using this text. For example, noncontingent reinforcement is explained without any bias (which can be challening).
Since many of the theories are classical psychological concepts, those will never 'get old' or outdated. This may be the point and I missed it, but... the ideal user of this text seems to be someone entering the field of using FA's in their line of work. It seems there could be an 'application' section to using it in non-work enviroments. i.e. benefits and challenges when using this at home.
This book is very clear. Despite covering a relatively technical topic and 'soft science' it is clear and I don't think any college student would have trouble understanding the material and learning objectives.
No concerns about the consistency of this book. There are many technical components to FA's, and this book seems to cover them without bias.
The book could be used in modules, however there wouldn't be much application beyond a full class on FA. I suppose if you were talkinga about some of the background theories and wanted an application to FA that would be effectie (behaviorism for example). The introduction would also be relevant in any hands on human servies program. I also don't know if modularity should be a goal for this text.
No concerns, seems great.
I got lost a little bit here. This feature may exist and I don't know how to use it, but I didn't understand the role of the fillable discussion forums or quizzes. Is there an easy way to share this with other students or for instructors to get the responses? I suppose someone could print pages or screen shot them, but this wasn't clear to me. The embedded hyper links to both the assignments and then the content area's were slick though. So the lower score may be my fault for not understand the instructor interface that well.
No errors noticed.
Cultural was addressed as something to be aware of, however there were minimal applications to how cultural differences may actually affect the FA results themselves. A concrete example of "In hispanic culture, this behavior would imply a deficit in a certain area, whereas in African-American culture it would not".
Overall seemed great! I would use it in my class for sure. I may actually request to teach a FA class just so I can use it
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Challenging Behaviors of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
- Chapter 2: The Methodology of Functional Assessment: Process and Products
- Chapter 3: Treatment Implications Based on the Functional Assessment
- Chapter 4: Teaching Functional Assessment Content
- Chapter 5: Teaching Functional Analysis
- Chapter 6: Functional Analysis Case Training/FACT
- Chapter 7: Resources for Team Members of Interdisciplinary Professionals
About the Book
Instruction in Functional Assessment introduces learners to functional assessment (FA), which includes a variety of assessment approaches (indirect, observational, and experimental) for identifying the cause of an individual's challenging behavior for the purpose of designing effective treatments. FA is mandated by federal law and is a recognized empirically based approach to treatment of individuals with challenging behaviors (e.g., disruptive, self-injurious, and aggressive behaviors). Instruction in FA is essential for students who will one day enter professions as educators, psychologists, social workers, counselors, or mental health professionals.
The purpose of this textbook is to provide instruction in FA skills for pre-professionals in the fields of education and psychology. This supplemental resource provides the context, background, and knowledge to facilitate students' acquisition of the methods, decision-making, and skills involved in conducting FA. Each chapter begins with focus questions designed to promote reflective thinking and ends with discussion questions. To promote application of FA in diverse situations and teach important lessons, case studies of individuals with challenging behaviors, interactive activities, and opportunities for practice are embedded in the chapters. Moreover, the text includes the ingredients to facilitate students' role play and rehearsal of appropriate FA skills while working in cooperative groups and using performance-based training.
About the Contributors
Marcie Desrochers earned her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Manitoba with specialization in developmental disabilities, applied behavior analysis, and computer applications in psychology. She is a board certified behavior analysis at the doctoral level (BCBA-D). Dr. Desrochers is an Associate Professor of Psychology at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. Marcie Desrochers has conducted research on teaching functional assessment and evaluating the effectiveness of a computer simulation program called Simulations in Developmental Disabilities. Marcie has extensive experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students, and supervising students and practitioners in the field.
Dr. Moira Fallon earned her Ph.D. in Educational Foundations from the University of New Mexico with specialties in cognitive development and special education. She has over thirty years of experience in the field of special education in public schools. She holds certifications from several states in learning disabilities, behavior disabilities, early intervention, and assistive technology. Dr. Fallon has published widely in issues of inclusion and advocacy for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Moira Fallon has been a leader in developing learning communities, promoting school leaders for continuous improvement, and identifying research based, supportive resources for improving professional skills. She is a Professor in the Department of Education and Human Development at The College at Brockport, State University of New York.