WWC review of this study

Function-Based Planning for Young Children at Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Nahgahgwon, Kari N.; Umbreit, John; Liaupsin, Carl J.; Turton, Amina M. (2010). Education and Treatment of Children, v33 n4 p537-559. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ898555

  • Single Case Design
    , grades

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.

  • Male: 100%
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


This study was conducted at an elementary school that served approximately 800 students in grades K–6 and included a total of 35 classrooms. A schoolwide discipline model was used to address the behavioral needs of students. Additional support, including a daily management system and replacement behavior training, was provided to students who continued to exhibit behavioral problems. The three students in this study were not responsive to these interventions, so they were identified to receive a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and an individualized behavior intervention plan. The study took place in each student’s general education classroom. Josh’s class had 30 students, and his teacher had 5 years of teaching experience. Zane’s class had 25 students, and his teacher had 4 years of teaching experience. Ian’s class had 30 students, and his teacher had 1 year of teaching experience. Observation sessions (for all conditions) occurred during the classroom activities that the students’ teachers had indicated were most likely to elicit problem behavior.

Study sample

Three students were part of the study sample. All participants were considered at risk for an emotional and behavioral disorder due to ongoing behavioral problems that negatively affected their academic and social development. Josh was a 6-year-old Hispanic boy in first grade who had behavioral issues related to adaptability, hyperactivity, social skills, attention, and conduct problems. Zane was a 5-year-old Caucasian boy in full-day kindergarten who had issues in the areas of attention, adaptability, social skills, and hyperactivity. Ian was a 6-year-old Caucasian boy in full-day kindergarten who had behavioral issues in the areas of hyperactivity, attention, adaptability, social skills, and conduct problems. By the end of the study, Ian was given a diagnosis of emotional disability and speech/language impairment.


FBA procedures for each student included a review of school records, teacher and student interviews, and direct observation in the classroom. The results of the FBA suggested that Josh engaged in disruptive behavior to avoid activities that were difficult for him. Zane engaged in disruptive behavior to obtain attention from his teacher, especially when there was a long duration between opportunities to respond. Ian engaged in disruptive behavior to avoid difficult tasks and gain teacher attention and assistance. As a result of the FBA, Josh was given smaller work units and a timer to prompt feedback on his work. He was also offered free time after completing some work and all appropriate requests for help were acknowledged by his teacher. When he demonstrated off-task behavior, he was redirected to the task. To increase Zane’s likelihood of being on task, the teacher provided a reminder of expected behavior to the whole class before instruction and as needed during instruction. His off-task behavior was ignored, but he was called on the first time he responded appropriately and was called on again up to three additional times as a means of reinforcing on-task behavior. Ian’s work was modified for his fluency level, and he received brief instructions at the start of each lesson. The teacher explained behavioral expectations to the whole class and repeated these individually to Ian. Reinforcement of on-task behavior included providing free time following task completion and providing periodic attention. Off-task behavior was addressed via redirection and maintaining the task demand.


The study used one multiple baseline design experiment across three students. Baseline conditions were not explicitly described, other than mention of the schoolwide positive behavior supports.

Support for implementation

This was not described, though intervention integrity data confirmed that all interventions were implemented with high levels of fidelity.


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