An Investigation into Educational Personnel Knowledge of Functional Assessment Applications in Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Benjamin Tomecek

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) provide unique challenges to educators, requiring the provision of individualised, inclusive education into mainstream State Schools. The integration of such students is complicated when they display challenging behaviour which often restricts performance in educational environments. Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA) presents a robust basis for contextualised data-collection which can aid in development proactive and comprehensive multi-element interventions to facilitate positive changes in the challenging behaviour of students with ASD. Recent research has questioned the preparedness of educators to apply FBA data-collection techniques. Such questions are raised on the basis that FBA methodologies require specialised training which, when absent, may prevent the adoption of FBA by educators.
The present investigation focused on the training needs of Education Queensland educators involved in teaching and supporting students with ASD. This research aimed to investigate three main foci: how the challenging behaviours of students with an ASD were assessed and treated within the school context; whether inter-role differences occurred in the knowledge and application of behavioural assessment; and whether a gap existed between best-practice guidelines for FBA outlined through research and current educator practice.
A mixed methods research design containing two sequential studies was conducted to examine educators’ knowledge and application of FBA assessment and intervention processes. Study 1 utilised a semi-structured interview with 40 educators from South-East Queensland State Schools the results of which informed the development of a survey applied to a subsequent group of 94 educators from the same state district in study 2.
The results of both studies indicated that a large number of participants (62.5% in study 1 and 79.8% in study 2) had not received any training into FBA and confirmed the presence of inter-role variability in FBA knowledge. Results also demonstrated the presence of errors in the application of FBA data-collection technologies when compared to best-practice guidelines. The presence of specific barriers which may prevent the successful translation of FBA data-collection are discussed, along with clinical/educational implications and directions for future research.
Date of Award8 Oct 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorVicki Bitsika (Supervisor) & Christopher Sharpley (Supervisor)

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