Free Custom «Case Study: Student Behavior» Essay Paper

Free Custom «Case Study: Student Behavior» Essay Paper

Description of the Student

Jay is a 14-year-old individual with Down syndrome, which places serious restriction on the quality of his life and well-being. In order to improve socialization, education and other critical skills, Jay visits special education classes whereas his mother, while working part-time, assists him to overcome various challenges at home.

When characterizing Jay’s condition, it is critical to indicate that he managed to achieve some progress in different socialization, self-management and academic domains. With regard to the socialization domain, a positive feature is that Jay has managed to communicate with different peers, although his communicative acts are rather short. He is able to understand simple instructions and follow them in case he is in a good mood. Jay takes part in different games with other students, being in the center of public attention, but he prefers being an observer more than a player.

Talking about academic and cognitive proficiency, Jay’s strength is visual memory and smell, as he identifies different objects, individuals, and food. He can count to ten and repeat words or simple word combinations as well as recognizes his name and visual appearance. In general, visual perception and memory are Jay’s strongest cognitive features, despite the fact that he often refuses to engage with different stimuli, even though he recognizes them.

Furthermore, some of Jay’s behavioral patterns indicate that he is unable to overcome specific socialization, cognitive and other problems. One of the most serious challenges for Jay’s educators and friends is his focus on his individual self, which often leads him to isolation. The latest experts’ observations identified that although Jay has developed minor communicative skills, his communicative acts are mainly words “yes” or “no”. The only stimulus that leads the student toward extending his communicative effort is an urgent need or a critical situation.

Jay’s favorite activities include lying on the floor resting or sleeping and playing games remotely from others. Thus, disregarding his social environment, the student prefers isolation. In addition, Jay has poor self-management skills due to which he may throw his clothes and shoes away in the case he dislikes his food or faces a critical problem. One of such problems is a cognitive overload caused by complex instructions or an overload of sensory functions. As a result, it becomes a problem to correct Jay’s food consumption and socialization patterns, as they typically cause his emotional protest and outburst. Consequently, disregarding success in overcoming behavioral, cognitive, and self-management issues, Jay is still in need of assistance.

The Definition of the Problem Behavior

  1. Prefers isolation even in the case of active social and educational surrounding.

Possibly, such behavior is the outcome of Jay’s inability to stay focused and process complex information. Jay does not want to follow the rest of the class in case he loses attention even when informed that he can ask for assistance. For these reasons, he requires more powerful stimuli or their combination, more frequent breaks and constant individual assistance.

  1. Takes his clothes and shoes off and throws them anywhere together with other objects shouting “No”.

 This behavioral pattern is the sign of protest indicating that Jay encountered an unexpected problem or an issue that he does not want to happen. The most frequent situations leading to such behavior include the change of foods he regularly consumes or the feeding schedule, an attempt to switch a television set off while Jay watches his favorite cartoon.

  1. Lies on the floor away from the students, typically under the table, escaping a possible encounter with anyone.

Such behavior most frequently occur in two case scenarios. According to the first one, no one pays attention at Jay, and he enjoys being alone without a need to communicate with anyone. As for the second one, Jay escapes from performing educational or gaming activities, which is why he often puts his head in his hands, refusing to join an activity or conversation.

  1. Puts his head into his hands and shakes it; repetitively hits the floor or walls with his head.

Such behavior is the variation of the behavioral pattern #2 and can be characterized as a denial of moderate intensity. In this case, Jay’s emotions are directed on his individual self.

Identification of the Functions of Behavior

A Functional Assessment Interview

A functional assessment interview is a valid and effective tool for revealing different factors that assist in analyzing the causes and outcomes of student’s behavior. The goal of such interview is the definition of challenges and conditions under which a problem occurs (Crone, Hawken, & Horner, 2015). Through a series of brief or full functional assessments and interviews of different peers, an interviewer gains the understanding of the factors that lead the subject to specific behavioral patterns (Crone et al., 2015). One of the most valuable outcomes of this assessment is the ability to find solutions for problematic situations and prevent the repetitive emergence of the revealed negative behaviors. The assessment will consider several domains, including the environment, the behavior of the subject, the attitude of the surrounding peers, and the aspects of connection between his behavior and the environment and the peers.

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The general characteristic of Jay’s environment is critical, as it may bear issues that trigger his positive and negative behavior. Experts approve that environment plays a vital role in the formation of the psyche of a child (Hetherington, Reiss, & Plomin, 2013). This claim is approved by experiments during which a non-shared environment led to diverse developmental patterns in siblings (Hetherington et al., 2013). For this reason, some of the environmental designers consult psychologists when creating a setting for children. Specific environmental images and meanings can affect a child and transit different problems to the level of an adult (David & Weinstein, 2013), which is why there is a need for investigating the presence of potential stressors. Along with the school environment, it is crucial to address the aspects of Jay’s home environment, as it correlates with the physical activity and sedentary behavior in children (Tandon et al., 2014). In the case with Jay, one of the indicators that his surrounding impacts his behavior is the transition of frequent acts of lying on the floor and under the table from home to the school setting. The environmental aspect also involves the consumed food, as it often triggers the student’s rage in case it does not suit his preferred feeding model.

The assessment of Jay’s behavior is the most critical part of the interview sessions. To reveal the biggest scope of the student’s behavioral patterns, it is important to address not only him but his parents, teachers, and other students. One of the benefits of such approach is the increase in the validity of the obtained data, as some peers may describe Jay’s behavioral patterns in a vague or uninformative way (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2014). Similarly, it makes it possible to reveal the time and the causes of specific behavior models along with the teachers’ and parents’ responses to the student’s actions (Cooper et al., 2014). Therefore, the information obtained from different interviewees should be compared and contrasted with the aim of increasing its correctness.

Furthermore, there is a need for assessing such aspect as the attitudes of the surrounding peers toward Jay, as it would give the opportunity to reveal possible causes for his behavior. The reason for considering this issue is the apparent correlation between the attitudes and behavior of parents toward children as well as somewhat similar influences stimulated by other peers. For instance, a research by Rindermann and Baumeister (2015) revealed that parents’ education behavior positively correlated with the children’s intelligence and behavior. Moreover, Larsen et al. (2015) found that parental dietary behavior and parenting practices produced a moderate effect on the dietary behavior of their children. In the case with Jay, this aspect is critical, as the student demonstrates unhealthy dietary behavior, causing constipation. Along with it, it is possible that the teachers’ conduct triggers specific cognitive and behavioral difficulties in Jay due to possible negative or unproductive teaching attitudes (MacFarlane & Woolfson, 2013). Thus, experts revealed that teachers play the most critical role in stimulating behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement in students (van Uden, Ritzen, & Pieters, 2014), which in the case with Jay is significantly poor.

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Finally, it is vital to assess the level of correlation between Jay’s behavior and his environment as well as parents, teachers, and other students. For instance, there is a need for defining the number of tasks and external factors, the combination of which leads to Jay’s overload and resistance. Along with it, such information as the number of distractions, their nature, triggers, and length together with the assessment of the level of motivation toward different activities might be rather valuable (Calderwood, Ackerman, & Conklin, 2014). Similarly, this stage of the interview should address such aspects as Jay’s attitudes to different students and their actions as well as his reaction to their behavior. The data indicated in the interview also requires support by observational evidence done personally by the interviewer and assessor of Jay’s behavior.

An A-B-C Analysis

An A-B-C analysis correlates with the latter stage of the functional assessment interview, as its tasks include the analysis of the connection between antecedents (A), behavior (B), and consequences (C). When performing this analysis, the analyst should collect such data as the description of the inappropriate behavior, its occurrence, possible reinforcements or punishments, and antecedents, among others (Maag, 2017). One of the most important tasks when performing these operations is the revision of data with the aim of revealing possible behavioral patterns that require modification (Maag, 2017). For example, Jay may hide under the table in case the task he faces is too complex and causes his cognitive overload.

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Functional Assessment Observation

Functional assessment observation is a routine work directed toward collecting objective observational data obtained directly from the subject in his natural environment. This stage of the investigation is important, as it gives the opportunity to build a set of hypotheses associated with problematic behavior (Freeman, 2013). A relevant functional assessment observation contains such data as dates, timings, behaviors, and predictors of behavior, consequences and other valuable information.


Hypothesis 1: Jay suffers from a multitasking overload, which decreases his interest in education and communication. The variable associated with the hypothesis is cognitive and communication overload.

The setting behavior is the demands of the teacher or the initiative of the students to interact with Jay. Even having a desire to engage in communication and education, Jay can afford short communicative acts that are focused on a single idea. The consequence of this situation is that he ignores the attempts of the teacher to focus his attention and continue learning or practicing. In case the teachers or students continue pressuring him, Jay looks at the ceiling or at the walls, breaking the eye contact.

Hypothesis 2: Jay is unable to manage his anger and requires assistance. The variable associated with this hypothesis is denial.

There are many factors that cause Jay’s negation or denial, but most likely he is unable to simply say “no”. His reaction to an irritating trigger grows so fast that he cannot manage it and apparently evolves into an aggressive behavior. Typically, his outrage is caused by a deliberate change of his preferable food. Sometimes, his aggression is directed at his individual self in case he puts his head into his arms and hits it on the floor or the walls. In other cases, the anger is directed toward different objects so that he throws them around.

Hypothesis 3: Jay escapes social interaction because he fears the occurrence of a cognitive overload. The variable associated with this hypothesis is fear.

Jay considers that he has found a place under that table where no one can reach him and attempt to contact him. His mother proves this argument claiming that he feels safe resting under the table because no one touches him or communicates with him. As a result, Jay transits this behavioral pattern to the classroom setting, expecting the teacher and the students will follow the behavior of his parents.

Hypothesis 4: Jay experiences a deep emotional crisis in the case he faces an obstacle. The variable associated with this hypothesis is crisis.

The student faces a problem the nature of which makes him unable to express negation verbally or in any other way. Forgetting about the exterior world, he focuses on oneself being on his own with the problem. Presumably, this process evolves as a series of repetitive hits of different objects (typically the floor and the walls) with his head.

Establishment of Reinforcers

The establishment of reinforcers is an important measure for revealing the factors that have a beneficial impact on the student. The basic methodologies to perform this task include reinforcer sampling, direct observation, and inquiry of the student and/or caregivers. The first method includes the selection of a variety of reinforcers and the test of their efficacy on the subject. During the second one, a scholar should observe the subject in his natural surroundings and note the effect of the reinforcers that are proposed by Jay’s teachers or students. Finally, the interviews of the teachers/caregivers and students are directed toward revealing their observational experience. According to the data acquired by a caregiver, Jay has already got several reinforcers that at least stimulate his positive behavior. They include iPad, DVDs, and his toy, as Jay’s productivity or the ability to focus increases if he watches pictures or cartoons or plays with the toy. Thus, sampling or direct observation may be used to verify this information.

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Baseline Data

The data collection method selected for this stage of research is direct observation since it makes it possible to identify the key behavioral patterns without any mediator that possibly may change its validity. Throughout this stage, the data will be collected during several consecutive days with the indication of timings, class activities, and actions of the subject. The rationale for selecting this method is that scholars characterize it as crucial one in defining the problems and needs of the investigated human subjects (Matsunami, Kubosumi, & Matsumoto, 2016). At the same time, there will be a need for verifying the obtained results and increasing their relevance. For this reason, after the observational data collection, another method, which is the stakeholders’ survey, would be validated. The goal of this method is to obtain practical support of the revealed issues by means of eliciting observational data from teachers, students, and Jay’s parents. The survey would have yes/no question structure in order to test the validity of the initially revealed data, which is the rationale for its use. An opposite perspective of comparing and contrasting observational and survey data is the verification of information obtained during surveys (Hogue, Dauber, & Henderson, 2014).


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The next stage of the investigation will be processing and analysis of the transcribed data. According to the design of the research, it will have the form of a statistical and observational analysis, as the revealed information would be demonstrated on the graphs and diagrams. Finally, the researcher will need to explain the cause-consecutive relation between environmental triggers and student’s behavior. One of the presumptions in the case with Jay is that, according to the theory of social contagion, he may transit specific behavioral patterns from domestic to school setting (Christakis & Fowler, 2013) taking the example of his parents. Therefore, the above-described procedures would bring insight into Jay’s behavior and assist in editing his behavioral patterns through the correction of trigger-response correlation.



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