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Friday, August 3, 2012

Assessing Non-Compliant Behavior

Non-compliant behaviour can be one of the most stressful issues that present to teachers today.  The constant disruption can interfere with the learning of not only the student with the difficulty but the peers around him/her.  Finding solutions is not an easy task and there is no magic bullet.  A systemic, documented approach is required when trying to determine the reasons a  student may be responding in the way they do.  If an assessment is not completed then the strategies have no basis and the intervention is likely to fail.  Some students may not be following directions because they do not have the appropriate skills to do so.  Other students may have the skills required to complete the task but avoid the task due to another explanation (they would rather do something else). 

Colvin (2009) has laid out a simple chart that defines specific groups of defiant students. 

“Not following directions”


Group 1
Lack of skills necessary to complete the task
Focusing on teaching skills or adapt tasks
Group 2
Not attending or attending to something else
Ensure attention is secured before direction is given
Group 3
Students want to avoid the task
Ensure student is able to complete the required task – address motivational factors

As this chart points out there can be many factors that contribute to difficult or non-compliant behaviour.  In order to identify the function or reasons the student is behaving in a particular way , a functional assessment should be completed.  The functional behavioural assessment (FBA) gathers information on all the factors that may be contributing to a student’s behaviour.  The identification of these factors aide the team in implementing a comprehensive intervention plan that can help increase appropriate behaviour while decreasing the inappropriate.  Difficulties can then be effectively managed and disruption to learning kept to a minimum. 

The factors that are contributing to a student’s behaviour needed to be tested and manipulated in order to make them valid.  A student with a bad attitude or naughty cannot be tested and is not specific enough to provide adequate information to design an intervention plan. 

The FBA consists of four different components:

1.        The setting event:  Include earlier events or continuing events that set the stage for problem behaviour.

2.       Immediate triggers (antecedent to behaviour):  These events could occur just prior to the problem behaviour or concurrent with the problem behaviour. 

3.       Problem behaviour:  Identification of the problem behaviour within the setting. ( Can be rated as low level to extreme).   Described in observable terms.

4.       Effects or consequences of problem behaviour:  Assuming the problem behaviour serves a function or purpose, this is where the team will ask the question “What does the student gain or avoid from exhibiting this type of behaviour”.  The student may also receive positive reinforcement from their behaviour – gain a desirable affect, object, response...This behaviour will be reinforced to continue (The student steals something so he/she obtains the object for free or a student is speaking out in class gains the attention of the teacher)  Therefore positive reinforcement can also reinforce inappropriate behaviour.  Negative reinforcement is defined as something that is aversive or undesirable and is removed from the student.  For example... A student does not like math equations so acts out to avoid the math questions.  The student is sent away from the class but avoids the math equations.  She has avoided an aversive task which actually reinforces the behaviour to continue as she does not want to embarrass herself in the future because she does not feel competent in completing the task.
The student enters into this cycle and will continue to exhibit the difficult behaviour until another element is implemented to discourage the difficult behaviour from continuing.
To obtain adequate and sufficient data to summarize the underlying factors that contribute to the student’s behaviour, a number of methods can be utilized:  Direct observations, FBA interviews with all stakeholders, teachers, parents, and the student if appropriate. A review of school records is also useful in formulating an intervention.


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Colleen said...

Thank you! I appreciate the feedback.

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One of the biggest issues that I hear about from teachers and caregivers is the behaviour of the children or youth in their school, program ...