Step 1: Define the student behavior

A six-step process that begins with collecting ABC data.

In order to determine why a student is engaging in a certain behavior, you’ll need to clearly define the problem behavior, identify any underlying causes, and track replacement behavior adoption against baseline data.

Step 1: Write an operational definition

Create an operational definition that clearly describes the observed maladaptive behavior exhibited by the student.

Write a concise and objective description of the target behaviors based on thorough observation. It is important to record as much information as you can about the problem behavior. In addition to writing, “aggressive behavior”, your definition should be enhanced by specific details, like, “hit a student”, “threw a book at a teacher”, or “pushed a peer”.

Step 2: Determine the intensity

Frequency, duration, and intensity

Annotate the number of times the target behavior occurs as the frequency. Include the amount of time the behavior lasts as the duration. Intensity is measured on a scale to clarify if the behavior presents a negligible, minor, moderate, or severe disruption to a positive learning environment.

Accurately taking account of the specific attributes of the target behavior is paramount to crafting an operational definition that is useful for identifying appropriate interventions.

Step 3: Identify setting events

Setting events occur more remotely from behavior than antecedents, happen before the behavior, and make the behavior more likely to occur.

Maladaptive behaviors are unpleasant and disruptive responses to genuine emotional, physical, emotional, or psychological needs that have gone unmet. Setting events are the triggers that occur more distant to the antecedents that can occur minutes, hours, or days, or even weeks before the target behavior. For instance, stress at home, inadequate nutrition, over-stimulation, improper medication, and feelings of helplessness can all serve as setting events that lead to the behavior becoming more common.


The ABCs of data collection

What happens before a behavior is the antecedent and what happens after the behavior is the consequence.

By observing behavior and collecting data on antecedents and consequences that occur before and after the behavior, you’ll be better equipped to assess and monitor student behavior.

Collecting ABC data can be challenging in a busy classroom, where behaviors, antecedents, and consequences can easily overlap. Insights to Behavior will guide you through this process step-by-step.

Step 4: Identify antecedents

Antecedents are the immediate trigger events that set off the problem behavior.

When identifying the antecedents, consider where, with whom, and when the behavior happens. Are there other people present? Does it occur at specific times of the day or during certain activities? What else is going on in the environment when the student misbehaves? You’re looking for patterns that contribute to the target behavior.

Step 5: Outline consequences

A consequence is any event or reaction that occurs immediately after the target behavior.

A consequence that makes a behavior occur more frequently is a reinforcement. A consequence that makes a target behavior occur less frequently is a punishment. Identifying responses that both increase and decrease problem behavior. Our responses should always be centered on the child exhibiting the desired behavior, promoting the use of the replacement behavior, and decreasing the occurrence of the problem behavior.

Step 6: Establish goals

Identify new and more constructive ways for the student to respond to trigger events.

The overarching goal of the behavior plan is to help teach the student the skills they need to successfully navigate their experiences in life in a positive and socially acceptable manner. Specific goals are captured in the form of how often the replacement behavior is expected to be demonstrated while the problem behavior decreases in frequency, duration, and intensity, in a reasonable timeframe. Tracking performance against goals gives the ability to address progress and the fidelity of the behavior plan. 


Once the behavior is defined, identify the function of the behavior

During an assessment, a behavior specialist will ask questions and assign scores relative to how each of the four functions is represented in a student's behavior.

Identifying the function helps address the underlying cause of the behavior and better align appropriate evidence-based intervention strategies. Insights to Behavior includes a 16-step Behavior Screener that helps any educator to quickly help determine the function of a student’s behavior in less than one-hour.

Insights to Behavior is used in over 2,000 schools around the country in districts like Pasco County, Florida, The School District of Philadelphia, and Fresno Unified in California.


Behavior Analytics Help Lower Rates of Disciplinary Action in K–12

A study from Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance provides rigorous evidence that a data-driven approach on student behavior and discipline incidents can have a measurable impact on student outcomes.

After the adoption of a student behavior tracking application, the average number of suspensions dropped by 0.14-0.38 per student per year (26-72% from baseline), and the average number of suspension days per student per year declined by 0.7-1.5 (at least 52% from baseline).

Insights to Behavior offers the tools to help educators address the majority of these challenges including:

  • Create practical, compliant, defensible, and accurate Behavior Intervention plans quickly
  • Establish an environment of consistent data-collection to enable consolidated reporting
  • Offer professional development on implementing research-based strategies so that teachers are better equipped to constructively manage classroom behavior in keeping with modern best practices.

A modern behavior management process you can trust

At Insights to Behavior, we understand the need for clinical rigor when it comes to documenting student behavior and the need for a process that is practical in today’s classrooms. Insights to Behavior will help you bridge the gaps in your behavior management process. Insights to Behavior is designed according to Applied Behavior Analysis best practices. Enjoy a friendly and modern user experience and time-saving tools for each step in the process. 

The only research-based way that any educator can create a legally-defensible behavior intervention plan in under 60-minutes

Are you involved in the team that decides which tools your organization uses for behavior management? Are you interested in scheduling an online demo for your team?


“We had a BCBA and we’ve done extensive work on behavior management so our teachers are really good when it comes to classroom behavior, but they aren’t writing plans every day. That’s one reason Insights to Behavior has been so beneficial, because it’s prompting the thought process to create behavior plans.”

“Insights to Behavior helps our teachers easily find replacement behaviors and then gives them options for researched-based strategies that they can choose from. That’s a really good feature because it saves teachers time. And I like being able to see who’s utilizing the program.”

Instructional Specialist for Special Education and 504 at Talladega County Schools

“The district purchased Insights to Behavior, to help reduce suspension and expulsion rates and address disproportionality challenges. Using Insights to Behavior has been a great opportunity because it’s allowed us to look at discipline as a whole, not just for that subgroup, and to examine what are we doing to better support all students with behavioral issues.”

Special Education Interventionist at Rutherford County Schools


Choose which option best fits your needs

To create a positive culture and productive classrooms, students must receive proper behavior coaching, which requires consistent data collection and reporting, effective research-based practices, and analyzing behavioral data. We offer these resources to help you.

Want to learn practical research-based classroom and behavior management strategies?

Join us the third Wednesday of each month for the modernizing behavior management webinar series. There is no cost for these one-hour online sessions. You’ll get a certificate of attendance.

Are you considering Insights to Behavior?

Request a call-back! We’ll reach out to schedule your behavior management team members for a 30-minute online demo—an Insights to Behavior team member will show you around the application and offer pricing that meets your needs.