Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Carl Myers, Jessica Torelli, Christina Noel

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


Literature has implied that the use of functional analysis (FA) procedure within the school setting can be beneficial in determining the function of problem behavior. However, conducting an FA in a school setting can be challenging due to the expertise, resources, and experimental control needed to complete such an evaluation. The purpose of the current study was to examine the feasibility of conducting a FA within the school setting to determine the function(s) of severe problem behavior. The research questions are: (1) Can a multielement FA be used to infer the function of a student’s problem behavior in a public high school setting? (2) Does a multielement FA with standard experimental procedures produce interpretable results when conducted with a severe behavior problem (i.e., aggression and self-injury)? A functional analysis was conducted in an empty high school classroom using the conditions of tangible, escape, and attention, along with a control condition. A teacher interview and free operant preference assessment were conducted prior to beginning the FA. The results indicated the functions of the student’s behavior were escape from academic demands and access to food items. The implications of the results are discussed as well as future directions for research as it pertains to training and choosing appropriate personnel to conduct FAs within the school setting.


Education | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences