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Comparison of Data Collection Methods

The selection of evidence based interventions is a high priority when selecting ASD interventions, but it is not the only factor to consider. As represented in the Ministry of Educations 3 part Evidence Based Practice Model , practitioner knowledge is also critical in deciding whether an intervention is effective. However, many busy teachers tend to re ly on anecdotal evidence or gut instinct when deciding how an intervention is performing. This is understandable in a busy classroom, but it is not providing the empirical evidence required to ensure that the time and effort being put into the intervention is resulting in improvement targeted. To overcome this weakness in the implementation of classroom based interventions it is crucial that useful data is collected and in a way that minimises disruption to the teachers other tasks, or allows for others to do some of the collection. This artefact considers 5 types of data collection looking at the positives and negatives of each.


Records the number of times a behaviour occurs in a specific time interval.

Hand raising Calling out Leaving the mat

-easy to keep a tally -good for discrete behaviours that do not occur too frequently - measures occurrence of behaviour - converts easily to a % -useful for high rates of behaviour with no clear beginning or end

-lacks accuracy if the behaviour extends over a long period of time or occurs frequently -does not provide information on duration of the behaviour - intrudes on teachers other tasks - removes teacher from other tasks. outside, experienced observer

A tally can be kept by moving counters from one pocket to another or marking a piece of masking tape stuck to teachers clothing.


Time Sampling

Records if the target behaviour has occurred within a specific time interval. Three types of

Hitting Working on task

time sampling can be used: -Partial interval Records + if the target behaviour occurs at any time during the agreed interval or if the behaviour never occurs in the time interval. -Whole interval Records + if the behaviour occurs for the entire length of the interval or if it does not last for the entire interval. -Momentary Sampling Only records + if the behaviour is occurring at the end of the time interval otherwise record -.

- identifies patterns of behaviour

-Partial interval -best suited to behaviours that need to be decreased -Whole interval -best suited to behaviours that need to be increased -Momentary Sampling -less intrusive on teacher time -converts to %

required to attend solely to task - provides an estimate -Partial interval -can over estimate target behaviour -Whole interval -can over under estimate target behaviour -Momentary Sampling -does not account for repeat occurrence of behaviour -does not record what is happening at other times. -large number of observation required to give sufficient data - requires stopwatch - very intrusive on teacher time -difficult if behaviour has no clear start or finish -observer may be

Records the length of time the target behaviour occurs for.


Tantrums On-task Interacting with peers

-more precise as it measures all of the behaviour - suits behaviour that occurs at a high rate and for longer periods of time

- converts easily to a % Records the length of time between instruction and the target behaviour occurring. Starting a task when asked Coming off the computer when asked Returning to class after break times The individual Number of undergoing the times they intervention keeps their respond to own data record. This someones would normally be in greeting the form of a frequency Number of count. tasks completed in given session - precise information about how long it takes for a behaviour to start - converts to an average


required to intervene in behaviour or prevent self-harm - requires stopwatch - behaviour needs a clear start - needs an outside observer


-releases class teacher to deal with class - builds independence in child - child learns to self-monitor

- child needs to be trained. - initial data often unreliable

A child who is self-monitoring is getting additional practice of pivotal skills on top of the intervention itself.

Just as with interventions, there is no one method fits all for data collection. Whatever method is selected it needs to be manageable, accurate, reliable, appropriate and provide information that is useful. One of the common factors in the minus column was the demand on teacher time. The availability of an outside, adult observer familiar with the collection method, and if possible with the child, is an ideal but elusive resource in this climate of limited funding and busy people.

References Keller, D. (2005). Fast facts on data collection via direct measurements og behaviour. Retrieved from National Autism Centre. (2011). Evidence-based practice and autism in the schools. Massachusetts. Quinn, M. M. (n.d.). Collecting Data While Teaching, and Other Circus Acts. Retrieved October 2013, from