WWC review of this study

Modifying Activities to Produce Functional Outcomes: Effects on the Problem Behaviors of Students with Disabilities.

Dunlap, Glen; And Others (1995). Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, v20 n4 p248-58. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ518051

  • Single Case Design
    , grade

Reviewed: December 2016

Meets WWC standards with reservations

To view more detailed information about the study findings from this review, please see Functional Behavioral Assessment-based Interventions Intervention Report (977 KB)

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 100%
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The study took place in a school in Florida. The sessions were conducted in a separate room by an aide who was familiar with the students. A behavior management system was in place in the classroom.

Study sample

Three students were part of the study sample. Jill was 13 years old and had multiple disabilities, including severe emotional disturbance, mild mental retardation, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. The study reported outcomes for two additional students, Jary and Natalie. The single-case design experiment for Jary is not eligible for this review because he was not diagnosed with an emotional disturbance, but was instead diagnosed as having autism and an intellectual disability. Natalie’s study design did not meet WWC pilot single-case design standards because there were fewer than three data points in at least one phase of her reversal/withdrawal design experiment. As a result, their single-case design experiments are not described in this report or included in the ratings of effectiveness.


Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) procedures included interviews with teachers, followed by direct observations. Based on the FBA, an intervention was developed that retained instructional objectives but modified curricular activities to better align with Jill’s interests. The FBA-based intervention consisted of writing captions onto a blank sheet of lined paper that were related to photographs that she had taken earlier in the week. The instructional objective was to demonstrate the correct use of letter formation and spacing in handwriting.


The study used a reversal-withdrawal design. Jill’s baseline/withdrawal condition consisted of regular instruction and copying words from a handwriting book onto a blank sheet of lined paper.

Support for implementation

Not reported.


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