Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 452–465 | Cite as

Considerations of Baseline Classroom Conditions in Conducting Functional Behavior Assessments in School Settings

  • Kathryn M. KestnerEmail author
  • Stephanie M. Peterson
  • Rebecca R. Eldridge
  • Lloyd D. Peterson
Discussion and Review Paper


Research has shown that environmental classroom variables affect academic performance and student behavior, and appropriate behavior is often related to the presence of effective teaching practices and classroom management (Moore Partin, Robertson, Maggin, Oliver, & Wehby Preventing School Failure, 54, 172–178, 2010). For behavior analysts consulting in elementary education, some referrals for assessment and treatment of individual student behavior can be resolved by helping teachers establish effective class-wide practices. For this reason, some researchers suggest that behavior analysts should assess baseline classroom conditions as part of a functional behavior assessment (FBA; Anderson & St. Peter Behavior Analysis in Practice, 6(2), 62, 2013; Sutherland & Wehby Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 11, 239–248, 2001). Through a literature review on effective classroom practices, we identified four specific classroom variables that have large effects on both learning outcomes and student behavior; we suggest consultants consider these four variables in baseline classroom assessments: (a) rates of active student responding (ASR), (b) appropriateness of the curriculum, (c) feedback and reinforcement, and (d) effective instructions and transitions. In this article, we will discuss each of these variables, describe how they can affect classroom behavior, and provide recommended targets from the research literature. We also provide a data-collection form for practitioners to use in their assessments of baseline classroom ecology, and for situations when these practices are not in place, we suggest potential resources for antecedent- and consequence-based interventions to decrease challenging classroom behavior.


Functional behavior assessment Schools Consultation School-based consultation Classroom management 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human Subjects

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

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© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  3. 3.Compass, A Positive Direction in Behavior Intervention, LLCSchoolcraftUSA

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