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IES Grant

Title: Developing Functional Behavior Assessment Maps for Students with Persistent Challenging Behavior: A Guiding Framework for Practitioners
Center: NCSER Year: 2016
Principal Investigator: Lloyd, Blair Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2016-6/30/2020) Award Amount: $399,846
Type: Training Award Number: R324B160010

Mentors: Lee Kern (Lehigh University); Erik Carter

Purpose: The Principal Investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research designed to improve the quality of functional behavior assessments (FBA) for elementary-age students with or at risk for disabilities with persistent challenging behavior, as well as participate in career development activities aligned with this program of research to expand relevant knowledge and methodological skills. Challenging behavior is one of the most significant barriers to accessing effective educational services for students with disabilities. FBAs can be used to address challenging behaviors by identifying the function of the behavior and informing appropriate interventions. However, additional guidance is needed to increase the quality and effectiveness of FBA implementation in schools. The expected outcomes of the proposed project include a fully-developed decision framework (FBA-MAP) designed to guide behavior specialists' selection of assessment strategies based on individual student and classroom factors and a comprehensive training manual to support behavior specialists and teachers in collaboratively implementing individualized assessment strategies in classrooms.

Research Plan: The PI will develop the FBA-MAP and accompanying training manual in three phases, followed by a pilot study to examine the promise of the intervention. In Phase 1, the PI will develop an initial version of the FBA-MAP. To inform this development, practitioners (i.e., behavior specialists, special educators) will be recruited from school districts across three states to complete a survey on their perceptions of the different hypothesis testing strategies. In Phase 2, behavior specialists will help evaluate the usability of the FBA-MAP by participating in training and practice, being assessed on their accuracy and appropriateness of hypothesis testing methods, and providing feedback on strengths and weaknesses of the FBA-MAP. In Phase 3, the PI will evaluate the utility of the revised FBA-MAP in matching hypothesis testing strategies to individual student and classroom profiles and the feasibility of hypothesis-testing implementation in authentic education settings. Students with persistent challenging behavior will be recruited for participation along with a practitioner pair (i.e., one behavior specialist and one special or general education teacher who supports the student) for each student. An alternating treatments design will be used to examine student behavior and practitioner fidelity. Following refinements based on Phase 3 results, the PI will conduct a pilot study using a series of A-B-A-B single-case design studies to evaluate whether practitioners' use of the fully-developed FBA-MAP and accompanying training manual has the promise of leading to accurate assessment of behavior function for students with or at risk for disabilities with persistent challenging behavior.

Career Plan: Through a career development plan, the PI intends to (1) expand her knowledge of students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders and multi-tiered systems of behavior support; (2) increase her knowledge and skills in survey design and analysis, single-case design, and other methodologies; and (3) develop an IES Goal 3 efficacy and replication grant proposal. To accomplish these goals, the PI will engage in monthly meetings with mentors, meet with expert advisors, and participate in workshops, courses, and an intensive summer course in advanced statistical techniques.