The use of structural behavioral assessment to develop interventions for secondary students exhibiting challenging behaviors

Mickey Losinski, John W. Maag, Antonis Katsiyannis, Joseph B. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Structural behavioral assessment (SBA) involves a series of heuristic approaches similar to those used with functional behavioral assessment (FBA). It involves assessing contextual variables that precede the occurrence of a behavior. These variables have also been termed antecedents, setting events, or establishing operations. Once these variables have been assessed, contextually based manipulations are developed and implemented, and interventions are developed from the results to reduce or prevent challenging behaviors from occurring. A major advantage of structural assessment is that teachers may find interventions based on the results easy to implement and relevant to the classroom. However, most of the research on SBA has been conducted with younger children with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and those with emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD). Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to extend the research by training a general education teacher to use SBA to develop interventions for secondary students displaying challenging behaviors who are at risk in general education classrooms. An alternating treatments design was used with four at-risk middle school students. Results indicated that a brief SBA can easily be conducted in general education classrooms, and interventions developed from manipulations can not only decrease (a) verbal outbursts (e.g., talking out of turn, arguing, laughing at inappropriate times); (b) inappropriate contact with others (e.g., touching, pushing, hitting, kicking, braiding hair); (c) taking other’s belongings; (d) being out of the student’s assigned seat without permission; and (e) passing notes but also increase writing and eyes on materials or eyes on the teacher during a language arts class. Implications for practice and future research are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-174
Number of pages26
JournalEducation and Treatment of Children
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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