Data Collection

Behavior programming requires a procedure for systematically recording and analyzing behavior data. Before beginning any behavior program, data should be collected on the person's target behaviors. Baseline data provides the behavior programmer and staff with a clear picture of the frequency of maladaptive behaviors. When possible, data should be collected throughout the entire day and evening - not just in structured settings.

Systematic collection and analysis of data is important in tracking the progress of a treatment plan. Collecting data on a consistent basis will provide:

1. Baseline information - provides staff with a clear picture of the frequency of behaviors prior to starting the program. This information will help dictate the design of the treatment plan.

2. Judging ongoing effectiveness - collecting and graphing behavior data is important in tracking the progress of the treatment plan. Modifications to the plan should be "data driven" and not based on anectdotal staff reports alone.

3. Feedback - data collection provides important information to family, staff and the client, as well as those responsible for the client's well being and/or funding.

There are many methods for collecting data. The three most common and practical methods are event recording, interval recording and time-sample recording.

1. Event recording - the easiest recording system. The only requirement is to mark on a piece of paper each time a specific target behavior occurs. The drawback to event recording is that it can be difficult to judge when one occurrence of a behavior ends and another occurrence begins.

2. Interval recording - divides the observation period into equal time periods (e.g. 15 minute intervals) and requires the person recording to mark whether or not the behavior occurred during each interval. It does not matter how many times the behavior occurred, only that it occurred at least once. This eliminates the task of judging the beginning and ending of a behavioral episode and/or tallying high-frequency behaviors.

3. Time-Sample recording - similar to interval recording except that it does not require constant attention by the person recording. Behavior is only periodically sampled. Observation periods are divided into specific times at which time the person recording marks the occurrence or nonoccurrence of the behavior.

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