Welcome to OPEPP​
Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation

Content: Recording Behavior


Determining Target Behavior

When working together to identify and help change a behavior, it is important to first clarify what behavior we are looking for. We can do this clarification broadly and specifically. 


One very common task is to record the frequency of a particular behavior—a target behavior—exhibited by students. It is important to do this with clear definitions upfront regarding what we are looking for and to do this collection of data with precision and care. 

The task involved in this activity is to count the instances and duration of 

                                                                          a significant off-task behavior 


                                                             a significant (unauthorized) out-of-seat behavior. 



  1. Read over the definitions below and review the data collection sheet.
  2. Arrange to conduct a 45-60 minute observation in a classroom. Be sure to wear a watch or bring an electronic device that allows you to time activities in seconds.
  3. For the first 15 minutes, observe all of the students in the class, identifying one who seems to be having difficulty either (a) staying focused or (b) remaining seated. The problem behavior in the first case is off-task behavior and in the second case out-of-seat behavior.
  4. Observe the student for a 20-minute period of time. Record every instance of the relevant behavior (whichever applies: off-task or out-of-seat) on the data collection sheet.
  5. If possible, ask a colleague to observe in the same classroom at the same time. The colleague will simply observe the classroom as you gather information—and then “compare notes” with you in the debriefing phase of the activity.
  6. Take notes and reflect on what you have gained from this experience. 


Significant off-task behavior:  EYE GAZE OF A STUDENT THAT IS DIRECTED AWAY

For an interval of at least 5 seconds, students direct their eye gaze away from any of the following:

(1) the teacher

(2) the instructional activity

(3) the relevant instructional materials.


Significant out-of-seat behavior: RISE WITHOUT PERMISSION 

Without permission from the teacher, students rise from where they are seated and then remain unseated for at least 3 seconds.



Use the Data Collection Sheet below to observe and collect frequency rates for behaviors from a child whom you work with or you know at your school.  


                                       2 IMPORTANT NOTES: 


(1) The time periods specify what “significant” means.  Only count episodes that are significant based on these definitions; do not count episodes of shorter duration.

 (2) Where students are looking (“eye gaze”) makes being on-task or off-task observable. You can’t observe what students are thinking, but you can observe what they are doing with their eyes.


How can you help your team design a form to follow a designated behavior and collect data around it?

In what settings, could collecting data around a specific behavior help you better understand what to do next?

Why is it so important to have a clear general and specific definition of the behavior when you work on a team? 

How do your notes compare to what colleagues have seen during their own collection of data?


Module: Communication and Collaboration

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