A systematic review of brief functional analysis methodology with typically developing children.
Article Type:
Educational evaluation (Research)
Academic achievement (Research)
Children (Educational aspects)
Gardner, Andrew W.
Spencer, Trina D.
Boelter, Eric W.
DuBard, Melanie
Jennett, Heather K.
Pub Date:
Name: Education & Treatment of Children Publisher: West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Family and marriage; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia ISSN: 0748-8491
Date: May, 2012 Source Volume: 35 Source Issue: 2
Event Code: 310 Science & research
Product Code: 9105111 Educational Quality Assessment; E121920 Children NAICS Code: 92311 Administration of Education Programs
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
Full Text:

Brief functional analysis (BFA) is an abbreviated assessment methodology derived from traditional extended functional analysis methods. BFAs are often conducted when time constraints in clinics, schools or homes are of concern. While BFAs have been used extensively to identify the function of problem behavior for children with disabilities, their utility with typically developing children has been questioned. This systematic review evaluates empirical studies, in which BFAs were employed with typically developing children to identify function of problem behavior. Twelve articles were reviewed and coded for quality indicators based on specific single-subject design criteria. Nine studies were considered to have acceptable quality and were summarized according to practice dimensions such as settings, therapists, problem behavior, and behavioral functions. Results suggest that BFA meets the standards for an empirically supported assessment methodology for typically developing children. Evidence is strongest for parents and teachers to serve as therapists when disruptive behavior is of concern.

An experimental analysis of behavior utilizes single-subject design methodology to systematically manipulate independent variables (i.e., environmental events) and to observe their effects on dependent variables (e.g., problem behavior) (Kazdin, 1982; Skinner, 1966). A functional analysis (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994) employs these methods to identify a functional relationship between environmental events and behavior. These procedures, allow for the identification of variables that maintain problem behavior (i.e., "function" of problem behavior). The results of the functional analysis can then be used to develop prescriptive interventions targeting the identified variables or functions.

The functional analysis methodology originally developed by Iwata et al. (1982/1994) has been referred to as an extended functional analysis and has been used extensively since the publication of this seminal article. The extended methodology has been considered the "gold standard" for the assessment of problem behavior (Wacker, Berg, Harding, & Cooper-Brown, 2004). However, there have also been drawbacks to using an extended functional analysis, most notably are the time and personnel resources required. Extended functional analyses are often conducted within special education classrooms and in other highly controlled settings (e.g. inpatient units) (Wacker et al., 1998). Iwata and colleagues initial procedures involved several 15-min sessions each day over a period of several weeks, which, due to time constraints, may not be feasible in settings such as general education classrooms, homes, and outpatient clinics. In fact, many community professionals, especially in schools, report that they do not have the time, money, or resources to conduct extended functional analyses (Scott, Meers, & Nelson, 2000).

Professionals working with children are often called upon to assess and treat a variety of behavior problems. For school systems, the 1997 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) required the use of a functional behavior assessment to inform the development of a behavior intervention plan. In addition to being mandated for schools, in general, functional behavior assessment procedures are considered "best practice" for the assessment of behavior problems (e.g., Andorfer & Miltenberger, 1993). Functional assessment is an umbrella term for any procedure used to ascertain the function of behavior. There are two general types of functional assessment methods--indirect and direct (Gresham, Watson & Skinner, 2001). It is common for an assessment of problem behavior to begin with indirect functional techniques (e.g., functional interviews, historical/archival records, behavior rating scales/checklists, etc.). Indirect methods are typically used to gather preliminary information and generate hypotheses of behavioral function, which can be tested using direct assessment methods that involve manipulation of environmental variables (i.e., extended functional analysis or brief functional analysis). It is also common that behavior plans are developed without assessment moving through both phases (Gresham et al., 2001; Sasso, Conroy, Stichter & Fox, 2001).

Time constraints, limited resources, and practical challenges are legitimate reasons extended functional analyses are seldom conducted in schools. This may be especially true for typically developing children because schools may not be able to divert special education resources to conduct a functional analysis with a child who does not have a disability. Outpatient units and homes are additional settings where limited resources are obstacles to conducting extended functional analyses. Given the limited resources and challenges, when the behavior of typical children requires experimental manipulations to test hypotheses, a briefer version of a functional analysis may provide the most accurate and direct information, from which an intervention can be developed.

To facilitate the broader application of functional analysis technology and to overcome issues of time constraints across diverse settings but still link treatment to an identified function, investigators and clinicians developed abbreviated forms of the extended procedures and called them brief functional analyses (Vollmer & Northup, 1996). Brief functional analyses (BFAs) are assessment procedures that manipulate the antecedents and/or consequences which may influence target behavior (Wacker et al., 2004). As demonstrated in Figure 1, just like the extended functional analysis (top), variables within a BFA (center and lower) are systematically manipulated using single-subject design methodology, most often with replication and mini-reversals to improve validity. However, BFA conditions are often 5 minutes in duration and maintained for only one or two sessions, which is substantially fewer than with the extended methods (10 or 15 minutes in duration across many sessions). Additionally, in the extended methods, stability of the target behavior or a distinct trend within conditions are examined, whereas in a BFA, typically the magnitude of change in the target behavior under one condition is compared to the magnitude of change observed in other conditions (Wacker et al., 2004). Researchers have suggested that not all brief assessments lead to the identification of function due to diverse reasons. However, systematic assessment sequences can be derived and have been reported in the literature to improve the probability of function identification (Vollmer, Marcus, Ringdahl, & Roane, 1995).

Research utilizing BFAs covers a wide range of settings and populations. For example, BFAs have been conducted in outpatient clinics (e.g., Derby et al., 1992), schools (e.g., Broussard & Northup, 1995; Northup et al., 1995), and homes (e.g., Rapp, Miltenberger, Galensky, Roberts, & Ellingson, 1999). BFAs have been successfully used to identify the function of behavior displayed by children with cognitive abilities in the average to low average ranges, children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), atrisk children and children without formal diagnoses (Boyajian, DuPaul, Handler, Eckert, & Mc-Goey, 2001; Broussard & Northup, 1995; Broussard & Northup, 1997; Cooper, Wacker, Sasso, Reimers, & Donn, 1990; Cooper et al., 1992; Mueller, Edwards, & Trahant, 2003; Northup et al., 1995; Reimers et al., 1993).

Despite the wide use of BFAs across a variety of settings with diverse children, the notion exists that a functional analysis of behavior is mainly reserved for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities who engage in more severe forms of problem behavior (Sasso et al., 2001). Because direct experimental methods for deriving behavioral function have not been wholeheartedly embraced in practice with typically developing children, the assessment of problem behavior with this group has relied primarily on indirect functional assessment techniques (e.g., rating scales, descriptive assessments, interviews; Sasso etal., 2001). Indirect functional behavioral assessment methods such as interviews and checklists have the advantage of being less time consuming and are important early steps in the assessment process, but they are more susceptible to respondent bias or mistaken recall. Moreover, few instruments used to collect indirect information have been evaluated empirically (Andorfer & Milterberger, 1993; Fox, Conroy, & Heckaman, 1998) and they merely provide correlational evidence or a hypothesis of a functional relationship (Sasso et al., 2001). Although indirect assessment methods are helpful to develop hypotheses, brief functional analysis provides more accurate information and is often necessary to test hypotheses before interventions are developed and implemented.

Reviews of published work in the area of functional assessment and functional analysis methodology have been completed in diverse manners. For example, in their extensive narrative review of functional analysis of problem behavior, Hanley, Iwata, and McCord (2003) organized their findings from 277 empirical studies according to participants and settings, characteristics of methodology, assessment conditions, experimental designs, and topographies of behavior. They found that only 9% of participants were reported to have "no disability," and few studies conducted functional analyses in homes (7.6%), outpatient clinics (7.6%) and vocational programs (2.2%). They also noted that there are doubts about the necessity and feasibility of extended functional analysis procedures in outpatient clinics, schools, homes, as well as the level of expertise needed to carry out the procedures in those settings. Two reviews examined studies with children with emotional and behavior disorders or who were typically developing (Fox et al., 1998; Sasso et al., 2001). Fox et al. found very little research implementing functional analyses with typically developing children. They also suggested that there is a significant need for the advancement of functional assessment and experimental analysis technology with typically developing children. Sasso and colleagues (2001) also reported a number of ambiguous areas in the research. They call into question (a) the efficacy of functional analysis methodology with students without disabilities, (b) whether school professionals have sufficient training to conduct controlled analyses, and (c) the extent to which assessment results link to intervention. In each of these reviews, the authors reported findings according to relevant practice dimensions (e.g., populations, settings, agents, or behavior). Considering the purpose of a functional analysis is to isolate the variables related to problem behavior, it is reasonable that such dimensions were carefully examined.

Although there are several reviews and evaluations of the literature in this area that have made substantial contributions to the knowledge base, none have specifically focused on BFAs. In addition, none have been systematic that is, none of these reviews on functional assessment or functional analysis included rigorous appraisal methods to ensure included studies were of high quality and scientific rigor (Schlosser, Wendt, & Sigafoos, 2007). In the current review, we employed a set of appraisal steps emerging from the evidence-based practice literature to filter the extant research base on the use of BFAs with typically developing children before drawing conclusions about the status of the empirical support. Rather than conducting a comprehensive review of all studies employing BFA methodology, the purpose of this paper is to review the efficacy of BFAs with typically developing children in order to provide recommendations that may bridge the gap between research and practice. The primary question of the current review was, "What is the current strength of the evidence supporting the use of BFA methods with typically developing children?" As a follow up question we also asked "To what extent is there sufficient evidence to support the use of BFA methods across a range of practice dimensions (e.g., settings, agents, behavior, and functions)?"


Searching for Evidence

Education Recourses Information Center (ERIC), Google Scholar, Medline, EBSCO Host, and PsycINFO databases were searched using the following keywords: brief functional analysis, brief experimental analysis, functional analysis and functional assessment to initially identify articles. Additional searches of articles published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) and School Psychology Review were completed due to their record of published articles on functional assessment and functional analysis methods. Non-English language articles were not searched and the year of publication was not restricted. Articles yielded from these search strategies were reviewed for inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Exclusion criteria. Review articles, non-refereed, and non-data based articles were excluded from the current study. Articles in which authors only reported data from participants with a formal diagnosis, disability or intellectual impairment were also excluded from the sample. In cases where research participants without a formal diagnosis or disability were included in addition to children with a formal diagnosis, the study was included. However, analyses only involved the typically developing participants. Finally, articles in which brief functional analyses were used to assess academic problems were not included.

Inclusion criteria. To be included in the current review all studies had to meet the following inclusion criteria: (1) employed a brief functional analysis to isolate either antecedent or consequence variables maintaining problem behavior; (2) typically developing children without formal diagnoses (e.g., ADHD, conduct disorder) served as participants. Participants who were identified as "atrisk" were included because at the time of their inclusion in the study they did not have a formal diagnosis; (3) the primary dependent variables were referred to as problem or aberrant behavior (e.g., thumb sucking, aggression, noncompliance, and disruptive behavior); and (4) the results of the brief functional analysis were used to create an intervention plan.

Evaluating the Evidence

Twelve articles were located using the search procedures described above. Each of the articles was evaluated according to a set of indicators for appraising the quality of single-subject research (Homer, Carr, Halle, Odom, & Wolery, 2005). Using the Homer et al. (2005) framework, research assistants examined each study for the presence of 21 quality indicators (e.g., dependent variables are described with operational precision and the results document a pattern that demonstrates experimental control) and recorded "yes" or "no" in an excel spreadsheet. Quality indicators were organized into seven categories: (1) participants and setting, (2) dependent variable, (3) independent variable, (4) baseline, (5) experimental control/internal validity, (6) external validity, and (7) social validity. To evaluate the consistency of quality coding, a second independent research assistant rated eight of the twelve articles (66.7%) and interrater reliability (98.8%) was calculated by dividing the number of point-by-point agreements by total agreements plus disagreements and multiplied by 100.

For the purposes of the current review, we considered articles with quality ratings of 19-21 acceptable with the mandatory inclusion of all items in the experimental control/internal validity category. Although Homer et al. (2005) recommend that studies include all 2l quality indicators to be considered acceptable, we selected a slightly less stringent standard for a number of reasons. First, some of the language used in items is suggestive rather than definitive (e.g., "Overt measurement of the fidelity of implementation for the independent variable is highly desirable" (italics added, Homer et al., 2005, p. 174). Second, many participants, especially in the experimental analysis literature, come to the attention of the researchers through referrals rather than through a targeted selection process. Essentially, subjects can be participants of convenience as opposed to researcher selected. In many cases, the item "The process for selecting participants is described with replicable precision" could be applied unfairly. Finally, because the body of research evaluated is an abbreviated assessment methodology some items for social validity may not be applicable (e.g., "... implementation of independent variable over extended time periods..." and "... change in the dependent variable resulting from the intervention is socially important." Horner et al., 2005, p. 174).

Summarizing the Evidence

Based on the guidance provided by Horner et al. (2005) for summarizing evidence and to answer our primary review question, we first compared the entire set of acceptable articles to the following standards: (1) the assessment method was employed across a minimum of five single-subject studies that meet methodological standards; (2) at least three researchers across three different geographical locations conducted the studies; (3) at least 20 different participants were included in the corpus of studies. To address our secondary question regarding the various practice dimensions for which there is adequate evidence, we organized the articles into subsets and compared them to the same standards (i.e., across five studies, three researchers and locations, and 20 participants).


In Table 1, each of the twelve articles reviewed is detailed according to relevant features and practice dimensions. Of the twelve articles reviewed, nine met established criteria for inclusion in the summary of evidence. Overall the quality of studies was exceptional. For those studies in which all of the quality indicators were not met, the items mentioned above regarding selection process, social validity, and treatment fidelity were the most common items neglected.

When the acceptable studies utilizing BFA methodology with typically developing children are summarized, there are nine studies, nine sets of researchers, across four geographical locations, with a total of 41 participants. Based on the standards for summarizing single-subject design evidence outlined by Horner et al., (2005) these results indicate that the evidence for BFAs with typically developing children is sufficient.

The nine quality studies were sorted into four setting categories and the standards were applied to each subset of articles (see Table 2). There were four studies conducted in outpatient clinics by four sets of researchers, for a total of 24 participants. However, all of these studies were conducted in Iowa. There were four studies conducted in classrooms by four sets of researchers, across three locations, with a total of ten participants. Only one BFA study was conducted in an in-patient clinic with six participants. Although there was one study that was conducted in participants' homes, it did not meet the established criteria for acceptable studies.

We re-sorted the nine studies into two categories of individuals who served as "therapists" during the brief functional analysis (see Table 2). Therapists are typically directed by researchers to manage the antecedents and consequences of target behavior during experimental conditions. We grouped teachers and parents together because they represent untrained individuals who are present in children's natural environment and we grouped clinical staff, student research assistants, and researchers together because they are not typical agents in a child's environment. Teachers or parents served as therapists in seven studies, with seven sets of researchers, across three locations, with a total of 32 participants. In the remaining two studies, with two sets of researchers, two locations, and eight participants, clinical or research staff served as therapists.

Studies were re-sorted again according to types of problem behavior assessed using BFAs (see Table 2). Studies that addressed multiple types of behavior for some children or for different children were summarized in multiple problem behavior categories. Therefore, the total number of studies for this regrouping exceeds nine. Disrup-five behavior (e.g. out of seat, inappropriate vocalizations, swearing, throwing objects, etc.) was addressed in five studies, by five researchers, across three locations, and 21 participants. Noncompliance (e.g. active or passive task refusal, etc.) was included in four studies, by four researchers, across two locations, and 19 participants. One acceptable study assessed aggression with three participants. Tantrums and thumb sucking were also assessed; however, neither study met our criterion for acceptable and were not included in the summary of evidence.


The current review scrutinized the state of the evidence for BFAs with typically developing children. We reviewed a narrowly defined slice of research literature to help answer an important practical question. Following the guidelines proposed by Horner et al. (2005), we conclude that a sufficient number of quality studies support the use of BFAs for typically developing children. BFAs constitute an empirically supported assessment technology that can be used to identify the function of problem behavior with typically developing children and thus lead to more precise and effective treatments.

As with any body of research evidence, the breadth of the scope of evidence analyzed depends on the purpose of the review and research questions. For our purposes, we were also interested in slicing the analysis into relevant, but smaller units by regrouping studies according to practice dimensions such as settings, therapists, and problem behavior. In doing so, we found that there was sufficient evidence for only a few subsets of variables. For example, the research employing parents and teachers as therapists while conducting BFAs with typical children met the standards (i.e., five studies, three researchers and locations, and 20 participants). BFAs employed to identify the function of disruptive behavior of typically developing children also met the standards. There was almost enough evidence to support the use of BFAs with typically developing children in outpatient clinics, but because all the studies were conducted in Iowa, that subset of studies did not meet the standards for an empirically supported assessment method. Likewise, for classrooms there was also a number of studies conducted but the total number of participants was only ten, not the required 20. The result was similar for noncompliant behavior, where four studies, four researchers, but only two locations and 19 participants were identified. Therefore, BFAs for the assessment of noncompliance of typically developing children fell short of meeting the standards.

On a practical note, the identification of the conditions in which BFAs have been successfully used is extremely helpful to practitioners seeking empirically supported assessment procedures for typical children who display problem behavior. There are a number of guidelines and recommendations for using functional assessment procedures with children with disabilities, but few if any, have been published for the use with typically developing children. It is our intention that the current review will serve as a resource for practitioners who are seeking information regarding the applicability of BFAs for typically developing children. Nonetheless, our conclusions are limited by the current body of evidence, which is not enormous. As more studies are conducted in the area of BFAs with typically developing children, it will become necessary to update the evidence for practical use.

Conceptual Issues

The scope of evidence investigated in this review was substantially narrower than is typical in systematic reviews, but a narrow scope was necessary to answer our practical question: "Is there sufficient high quality evidence supporting the use of BFA methodology with typically developing children?" There are a number of advantages to dividing the available research into smaller and smaller units. No matter the breadth of scope analyzed, some level of generalization is necessary to get from the specific research dimensions to the practice dimensions of the local context; however, the narrower the scope is defined the closer the research and the practice context match. A closer match means fewer uncertainties about generalization from research to practice. A systematic review that closely matches a practitioner's local circumstances may also reduce the interpretation and analysis demand that is required of practitioners. Moreover, analyzing a narrowly defined subset of the available research may decrease false positive errors. A false positive error could be committed if a practitioner implements a procedure in a situation in which it is not actually effective. Such errors are more likely when the scope of the evidence reviewed is overly broad.

A downside also exists when defining the scope of evidence too narrowly. In many areas the literature base is limited by too few high quality studies. Even when there is an extensive research base the studies may not include the dimensions that match the local circumstances. In these conditions, the likelihood of committing false negative errors increases. A false negative error occurs when a lack of research leads to the conclusion that the evidence does not support the procedure, when in reality the procedure is effective. When there is limited evidence and the scope has been defined narrowly, the systematic review may not generate any useful recommendations for practice, which is contrary to the purpose of evidence-based practice.

We were fortunate that there was sufficient evidence on the use of BFAs with typically developing children to answer our primary research question. As the evidence was sorted and sliced, however, the validity of this approach came into question. For instance, the results indicated that there was sufficient evidence to support the involvement of teachers and parents in the BFA procedures and to support the use of BFAs to address disruptive behavior. However, we could have divided the parents and teachers subset further, in which case there would have been four studies involving parents and three involving teachers and neither set would have met the Homer et al. (2005) standards. Based on the way we chose to group the studies and because these subunits met the summary standards, we can be fairly confident about recommending that BFAs can include parents or teachers and be used to address disruptive behavior. Nonetheless, the confidence of any other conclusions at this level of analysis is diminished by a limited number of studies.

In situations like this, practitioners must use professional judgment to decide what research-to-practice generalizations are reasonable. It is our opinion that the current review lends itself to the inter-pretation that many generalizations are in fact reasonable. Given the current state of the BFA literature with typically developing children, perhaps the most valid conclusions can be drawn from an intermediate analysis (not the broadest and not the most narrow) there is sufficient evidence to indicate BFAs can be used to identify the function of problem behavior of typically developing children. The evidence is strongest when procedures involve parents or teachers and address disruptive behavior. There are a number of sensible generalizations possible because BFAs have been successfully used in a variety of settings (i.e., outpatient and inpatient clinics, and classrooms), involving clinical staff and researchers, for a range of problem behavior (i.e., disruptive behavior, noncompliance, and aggression), and behavioral functions (i.e., escape, attention, tangibles). Finally, the current review identified an absence of high quality evidence indicating the appropriateness or effectiveness of the use of BFAs in homes, for tantrums and thumb sucking behavior, and for behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. However, we cannot assume a lack of evidence indicates that BFAs in all other circumstances are inappropriate or ineffective. With respect to the units that do not meet the standards, we are left with fewer definitive answers.

Future Directions

This systematic review represents an initial attempt to apply an appraisal process and summary standards for determining whether an assessment practice can be endorsed as empirically supported. We limited our selection of articles to those that used the BFA results to develop a function-based intervention because of the research-to-practice aim of our review. The indisputable purpose of functional analysis technology is to inform the development of interventions, however, Gresham et al. (2004) found that only 52% of 150 functional analysis studies used the results of the functional analysis to inform intervention development. The strongest BFA studies report on sustained, long-term functionally equivalent interventions (see Derby et al., 1997; Wacker et al., 1998). There is certainly a need for isolated experimental studies of assessment methods, but the connection between assessment and intervention is particularly relevant to evidence-based practice in schools. Although we did not directly evaluate the success of BFAs in relation to the intervention outcomes, future reviewers might consider judging the two components together to determine the impact of an assessment procedure.

There is a need for appraisal guidelines specifically created for the systematic review of assessment methods. The majority of published guidelines for the identification of empirically supported procedures appear to be designed primarily for interventions, even those proposed by Homer et al. (2005). For instance, under Social Validity, the word "intervention" is used instead of independent variable. Considering the quality indicators were likely intended for the evaluation of treatment studies, the exceptionally high interrater reliability obtained in this review is surprising. We believe, however, the Homer et al. (2005) guidelines were adequate for the corpus of these studies because single-subject research design methods are inherent in BFA procedures. Nonetheless, systematic reviews of assessment strategies could be strengthened if a targeted set of appraisal guidelines were available.

In this review, we attempted to inspect a set of studies from science and practice perspectives. The ability to view evidence from both perspectives strikes us as essential to the advancement of an evidence-based practice culture in which research and practice are intertwined. It is our contention that by intertwining research and practice considerations, a proper balance can be maintained. For instance, it is scientifically important to adjust the set of studies for review to match the research questions. However, if the set of studies selected is too small to be helpful to practitioners, science has fallen short.


Special thanks to Elizabeth A. Popescue, Mandana Kajian, Kayla Vaughn and the other research students at Northern Arizona University.


Andorfer, R. E., & Miltenberger, R. G. (1993). Functional assessment and treatment of challenging behavior: A review with impli-cation for early childhood. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 13, 82-105.

* Boyajian, A. E., DuPaul, G. J., Handler, M. W., Eckert, T., & McGoey, K. E. (2001). The use of a classroom-based brief functional analysis with preschoolers at-risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review, 30, 278-293.

Broussard, C., & Northup, J. (1995). An approach to functional assessment and analysis of disruptive behavior in regular education classrooms. School Psychology Quarterly, 10,151-164.

* Broussard, C., & Northup, J. (1997). The use of functional analysis to develop peer interventions for disruptive classroom behavior. School Psychology Quarterly, 12, 65-76.

* Call, N. A., Wacker, D. P., Ringdahl, J. E., Cooper-Brown, L. J., & Boelter, E. W. (2004). An assessment of antecedent events influencing noncompliance in an outpatient clinic. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 145-158.

* Cooper, L. J., Wacker, D. P., Sasso, G. M., Reimers, T. M., & Donn, L. K. (1990). Using parents as therapists to evaluate appropriate behavior of their children: Application to a tertiary diagnostic clinic. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23, 285-296.

Cooper, L. J., Wacker, D. P., Thursby, D., Plagmann, L. A., Harding, J., Millard, T., & Derby, M. (1992). Analysis of the effects of task preference, task demands, and adult attention on child behavior in outpatient and classroom settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 823-840.

Derby, K. M., Wacker, D. P., Sasso, G., Steege, M., Northup, J., Cigrand, K., & Asmus, J. (1992). Brief functional assessment techniques to evaluate aberrant behavior in an outpatient setting: A summary of 79 cases. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 713-721.

Derby, K. M., Wacker, D. P., Berg, W., DeRaad, A., Ulrich, S., Asmus, J Stoner, E. A. (1997). The long-term effects of functional communication training in home settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 507-531.

* Doggett, R. A., Edwards, R. P., Moore, J. W., Tingstrom, D. H., & Wilczynski, S. M. (2001). An approach to functional assessment in general education classroom settings. School Psychology Review, 30, 313-328.

Fox, J., Conroy, M., & Heckaman, K. (1998). Research issues in functional assessment of the challenging behaviors of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 24, 26-33.

* Gardner, A. W., Wacker, D. P., & Boelter, E. W. (2009). An evaluation of the interaction between quality of attention and negative reinforcement with children displaying escape-maintained problem behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 343-348.

Gresham, F. M., McIntyre, L. L., Olson-Tinker, H., Dolstra, L., McLaughlin, V., & Van, M. (2004). Relevance of functional behavioral assessment research for school-based interventions and positive behavior support. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 25, 19-37.

Gresham, F. M., Watson, T. S., & Skinner, C. H. (2001). Functional behavioral assessment: Principles, procedures, and future directions. School Psychology Review, 30, 156-172.

Hanley, G. P., Iwata, B. A., & McCord, B. E. (2003). Functional analysis of problem behavior: A review. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 147-185.

* Harding, J., Wacker, D. P., Cooper, L. J., Millard, T., & Jensen-Kova-Ian, P. (1994). Brief hierarchical assessment of potential treatment components with children in an outpatient clinic. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 291-300.

Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Halle, J., Odom, S., & Wolery, M. (2005). The use of single-subject research to identify practice in special education. Exceptional Children, 71,165-A79.

Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1994). Toward a functional analysis of self-injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 197-209. (Reprinted from Analysis and Intervention in Development Disabilities, 2, 3-20, 1982).

Kazdin, A. E. (1982). Singlecase research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

* LeGray, M. W., Dufrene, B. A., Sterling-Turner, H., Olmi, D. J., & Bellone, K. (2010). A comparison of function-based differential reinforcement interventions for children engaging in disruptive classroom behavior. Journal of Behavioral Education, 19, 185-204.

Mueller, M. M., Edwards, R. P., & Trahant, D. (2003). Translating multiple assessment techniques into an intervention selection model for classrooms. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 563-573.

Northup, J., Broussard, C., Jones, K., George, T., Vollmer, T. R., & Herring, M. (1995). The differential effects of teacher and peer attention on the disruptive classroom behavior of three children with a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28, 227-228.

* Rapp, J. T., Miltenberger, R. G., Galensky, T. L., Roberts J., & Elling-son, S. A. (1999). Brief functional analysis and simplified habit reversal treatment of thumb sucking in fraternal twin brothers. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 21, 1-17.

* Reimers T. M., Wacker D. P., Cooper L. J., Sasso G. M., Berg W. K., & Steege M. W. (1993). Assessing the functional properties of noncompliant behavior in an outpatient setting. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 15, 1-15.

Sasso, G. M., Conroy, M. A., Stichter, J. P., & Fox, J. J. (2001). Slowing down the bandwagon: The misapplication of functional assessment for students with emotional or behavior disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 26, 282-296.

Schlosser, R. W., Wendt, 0., & Sigafoos, J. (2007). Not all systematic reviews are created equal: Considerations for appraisal. Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention, 1, 138-150.

Scott, T. M., Meers, D. T., & Nelson, C. M. (2000). Toward a consensus of functional behavioral assessment of students with mild disabilities in public school contexts: A national survey. Education and Treatment of Children, 23, 265-285.

Skinner, B. F. (1966). What is the experimental analysis of behavior? Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 9, 213-218.

* Stephens, T. J., Wacker, D. P., Cooper-Brown, L. J., Richman, D., & Kayser, K. (2003). Brief experimental analysis of antecedent variables related to noncompliance in young children in an outpatient clinic. Journal of Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 25, 1-8.

Vollmer, T. R., Marcus, B. A., Ringdahl, J. E., & Roane, H. S. (1995). Progressing from brief assessments to extended experimental analyses in the evaluation of aberrant behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28, 561-576.

Vollmer, T., & Northup, J. (1996). Some implications of functional analysis for school psychology. School Psychology Quarterly, 11, 76 -92.

Wacker, D. P., Berg, W., Harding, J., & Cooper-Brown, L. (2004). Use of brief experimental analyses in outpatient clinic and home settings. Journal of Behavioral Education, 13, 213-226.

Wacker, D. P., Berg, W. K., Harding, J. W., Derby, K. M., Asmus, J. M., & Healy, A. (1998). Evaluation and long-term treatment of aberrant behavior displayed by young children with disabilities. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 19, 260-266.

* Wilder, D. A., Chen, L., Atwell, J., Pritchard, J., & Weinstein, P. (2006). Brief functional analysis and treatment of tantrums associated with transitions in preschool children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39,103-107.

* Indicates review articles.

Correspondence to Andrew W. Gardner, PO Box 15106, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5036; e-mail: andrew.gardner@nau.edu.

Andrew W. Gardner Northern Arizona University Department of Psychology and Institute for Human Development Trina D. Spencer Northern Arizona University, Institute for Human Development Eric W. Boelter Seattle Children's Autism Center Melanie DuBard May Institute Heather K. Jennett Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Table 1

Summary of Brief Experimental Analysis Studies

Researchers        Geographical     Typically      Setting
                     Location       Developing

Studies That Met

Boyajian, DuPaul,  Pennsylvania   3 boys ages    preschool
Handler, Eckert,                  4-5            classrooms
& McGoey (2001)

Broussard &        Louisiana      2 boys ages    general
Northup (1997)                    7-9            education

Call, Wacker,      Iowa           4 boys, 2      inpatient
Ringdahl,                         girls ages     psychology
Cooper-Brown &                    4-8            clinic
Boelter (2004)

Cooper, Wacker,    Iowa           8 boys, 1      outpatient
Sasso, Reimers,                   girl ages      clinic
&Donn (1990)                      4-9

Doggett, Edwards,  South Eastern  2 boys ages 6  general
Moore, Tingstrom,  State          and 7          education
& VVilczynski                                    classroom

Harding, Wacker,   Iowa           5 children     outpatient
Cooper, Millard,                  ages 4-6       clinic
& Jensen-Kovalan

LeGray, Dufrene,   South Eastern  3 boys ages    center
Sterling-Turner,   State          4-6            based
Olmi & Bellone                                   classrooms

Reimers, Wacker,   Iowa           5 boys ages    outpatient
Cooper, Sasso,                    4-5            clinic
Berg, &Steege

Stephens, Wacker,  Iowa           4 boys, 2      outpatient
Cooper, Richman &                 girls ages     clinic
Kayser (2003)                     3-10

Researchers        "Therapists"     Type of     Behavioral  Quality
                                    Problem     Functions    Score

Studies That Met

Boyajian, DuPaul,  teacher       aggression     escape *         21
Handler, Eckert,                 noncompliance  attention *
& McGoey (2001)                                 tangibles

Broussard &        graduate      aggression     attention        21
Northup (1997)     students      noncompliance

Call, Wacker,      clinical      disruptive     escape *         20
Ringdahl,          staff         behavior       attention *
Cooper-Brown &
Boelter (2004)

Cooper, Wacker,    parents       disruptive     escape           20
Sasso, Reimers,                  behavior       attention
&Donn (1990)

Doggett, Edwards,  teacher       disruptive     attention        20
Moore, Tingstrom,                behavior
& VVilczynski

Harding, Wacker,   parents       noncompliance  escape           21
Cooper, Millard,                                attention
& Jensen-Kovalan

LeGray, Dufrene,   teacher       disruptive     attention        21
Sterling-Turner,                 behavior       tangibles
Olmi & Bellone

Reimers, Wacker,   parents       noncompliance  escape           21
Cooper, Sasso,                                  attention
Berg, &Steege

Stephens, Wacker,  parents       noncompliance  escape *         21
Cooper, Richman &                               attention *
Kayser (2003)

Note, * Indicates multiply controlled functions.

Table 2 Summary of Evidence by Practice Dimensions

                           Studies  Researchers  Locations
                             (5)        (3)         (3)


            outpatient           4            4          1

            classrooms           4            4          3

            homes                0            0          0

            inpatient            1            1          1


            parents or           7            7          3

            clinical             2            2          2



            disruptive           5            5          3

            noncompliance        4            4          2

            aggression           1            1          1

            tantrums             0            0          0

            thumb sucking        0            0          0

                             Number of     Conclusion


            outpatient               24  does not
            clinics                      meet

            classrooms               10  does not

            homes                     0  does not

            inpatient                 6  does not
            clinics                      meet


            parents or               32  meets
            teachers                     standards

            clinical                  8  does not
            staffer                      meet
            researchers                  standards


            disruptive               21  meets
            behavior                     standards

            noncompliance            19  does not

            aggression                3  does not

            tantrums                  0  does not

            thumb sucking             0  does not
Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.