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So, you have one (or a few) students who are disrupting the entire classroom.

Let's figure out why.


The tried and true process that works 95% of the time (okay, this is not an actual statistic, but in my experience, it’s pretty close) is to use what is called: Function-Based Problem Solving.


What is "function-based" problem solving? Function-Based Problem Solving, or FBPS, simply is a process dedicated to exploring the reasons why a behavior occurs, using what happens before and after it. Once this process is identified, we are able to determine the purpose that a behavior is serving, or its function.


Learn more about behavior functions here.

The purpose for understanding this process is simple: once we know the function of a behavior, we can use it to inform the development of an appropriate intervention. In a nutshell, our goal is to develop intervention strategies that both decrease the likelihood of problem behavior occurring in the future by removing reinforcement for the undesired behavior and providing reinforcement for what we want the student to be doing. This looks different across students.


How is FBPS different from a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)?

FBPS and FBA processes both involve problem-solving to identify the events that reliably predict and maintain problem behavior, however an FBA is more extensive in its assessment. An FBA includes multiple interviews and structured observations. FBPS, on the other hand, is a shortened process for identifying behavior function, making it more suitable for teacher-use.


You can find more information about FBAs at the IRIS Center.


Ok, so how do you problem-solve, function-based style?

A wise person (don’t ask who) once said that a “functional assessment can be done in your head.” If you find the author, let me know so I can give them credit. Anyway, it was important to me that I start with this because it’s so true! Once you learn the basic structure for FBPS, it’s extremely easy to apply to a myriad of situations involving problem behavior.

While simple in nature, FBPS involves three major parts.

  • Part 1: Learning Your ABCs

  • Part 2: Designing a Function-Based Intervention

  • Part 3: Planning for Implementation

  • Part 4: Monitoring Your Intervention


So as to not confuse you, we have separated each part to describe it in a bit more detail. It is best to review each step in order.


Happy Problem Solving!


Continue to FBPS Part 1.

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