Guidelines for Behavioral Observations

Behavioral observations of students should:

  1. Be systematic and take place in a variety of settings.
  2. Be done by different IEP (Individualized Education Program) team members.
  3. Provide a clear picture of the behavior using one or more of the following procedures:
  • Narrative recording that describes specific skills the student demonstrates, the types of directions the student responds to best, social interactions, and personal appearance.
  • Time sampling or interval recording that examines whether or not a specific behavior is occurring at predetermined intervals (for example, every 2 minutes). A disadvantage of time sampling is that it does not reflect the frequency of behaviors on an ongoing basis.
  • Event sampling that waits for a specific behavior to occur and then records the frequency and duration of the behavior. A disadvantage may be that the student fails to exhibit the targeted behavior, such as social interaction.
  • Rating scales that provide a more structured technique to observe and record behaviors.

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.

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