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  • Writer's picturePamela Bruening

7 Tips to Making Student Behavior Measurement Manageable

7 Tips to Making Student Behavior Measurement Manageable

During a hectic teacher day, it is often difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to collect behavior data for students in the classroom. Even so, in order to know if interventions are working with students, whether the interventions are provided within or beyond the classroom, data collection and analysis is essential for sound decision making. Without four sets of eyes and hands, how can a teacher possibly manage all of this and still teach a meaningful and engaging lesson?! Here are some classroom tested tips designed to ease the behavior data collection process in your classroom.

1. Focus your data collection target. Choose one behavior to measure (for the purpose of changing it), preferably one that can potentially make the most impact on a student’s academic and behavior day. Undoubtedly focusing on collecting data one behavior is much easier than three. Be sure of the frequency required for your data collection. Some behaviors are best measured over time (percentage of homework completed in a week) while other behaviors need to be measured daily and constantly (time on task in class).

2. Prepare a simple recording sheet in advance and have it readily available to you at all times. If the collection requires a brief count, use a number clicker in your hand or pocket as your counting tool and then transfer it to your record sheet later. If you have multiple students, use a chart with all of their names on it for easier recording in one place. Copies of class rosters and seating charts on a clipboard also make good recording charts in a pinch.

3. When appropriate, involve students in self-monitoring their own behaviors. Not only does this give you a hand, it will usually help the student be more aware of undesired behaviors.

4. Clearly define the exact behavior you are seeking to measure. This lessens the thinking time or decision making time required to decide whether or not it should be counted.

5. Create a specific timeframe within the class time for behavior documentation. Establish a routine for yourself within the class time that allows you time to count tally marks or note individual student behavior. Often a short minute or two can be found when students are asked to read a paragraph silently, while they engage in a quick think-pair-share, or while you circulate around the room during a two minute written response.

6. Provide students with frequent nonverbal feedback when appropriate. I watched one teacher do this for five students within her classroom with such ease, that all five stayed on task throughout the period and other students asked to be placed on her list of on-task behavior students, just to get the frequent feedback! Her documentation task was simple since most students were always on task through her data collection method and her class ran smoothly without interruption.

7. Use a behavior rubric for behaviors that don’t lend themselves to a simple count. Prepare them ahead of time, know them well, and allow time for completion of them during the last five minute of class while students complete exit cards or a quick written response for you about what they learned during class. This practice can even allow you time for a quick 30 second conference with a student pertaining to his behavior if needed.

Regardless of which data collection methods and tips work best for you, seek to have a positive attitude, since your modeling of behavior in the classroom sets the tone for your students and your class’ culture.

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