Gathering data about a behaviour may sound time-consuming, but simple tick charts and fill-the-blank charts provided below will make the process as quick and simple as possible.
Step one: gather data
An A-B-C chart is an extremely helpful tool. This kind of chart describes what happened right before and right after the behaviour (A-B-C stands for antecedent, behaviour, consequence). To see an example of a completed A-B-C chart click here. For a blank printable A-B-C chart, click here.
The best way to use an A-B-C chart is to choose one behaviour of concern, and fill in the chart every time this behaviour occurs. The information gathered with the charts helps to narrow down whether the behaviour is a response to something that is happening, or whether the behaviour is caused by the student seeking a particular response/situation.
It is important to fill in a reasonable quantity of A-B-C charts. You need to gather enough information to show any patterns in the behaviour. It is suggested that the charts be completed every time the behaviour occurs for about a two-week period.
Step two: find patterns
Look at all of the charts and find patterns or identify possible starting points.
Ask the following questions:
Is it appropriate to seek more information by discussing common triggers with the student? Rather than asking why they behave this way, try asking questions that reveal something about triggers/responses, such as “what is difficult about library class?” or “what do you like about history class?".
Step three: take action
Once you have found patterns in the behaviour you can make an educated guess about reasons behind the behaviour. You can take steps to address these reasons. You may:
Other Forms of Data
Another kind of chart for gathering information about behaviour is a frequency chart. If a behaviour is occurring “all the time” it can be too difficult to fill in an A-B-C chart for each incident. A frequency chart is a simple tick-sheet which can help a teacher to gain a more objective picture of the behaviour.
A frequency chart helps to narrow down which times of the day are the most problematic for the student, and which times of the day are the best for them. This can be a good start. The teacher can then examine these times of the day more carefully and compare what is happening for the student. Look at the period of time that the behaviour is happening least. What is happening in the environment? What activities are occurring? Is there a structure, teacher or physical space present that supports the student well? Compare these conditions with what is occurring during the time of day when the behaviour is most likely. It may be possible to begin forming a theory about reasons for the behaviour.
After establishing a new behaviour support strategy, it is suggested that another frequency chart is completed, to show whether the incidence of the behaviour has reduced. A word of caution – taking this measurement too soon after implementing a new strategy can be unhelpful. It often happens that the student has a period of adjustment where behaviours of concern increase before they decrease.
There are many formats which can be effective for frequency charts. Click here for one example, in blank, printable form.