Applied Behavior Analysis – Discussion PS562


Field: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), please research “descriptive assessment” in ABA, for information in discussion response to be relevent and well researched.


Given that conducting and properly scoring a descriptive assessment can be extremely time consuming and descriptive assessments do not provide any information about causal environment-behavior relations, one might conclude that descriptive assessments do not have a place in clinical work. However, this is not the case. Describe a situation in which the use of a descriptive assessment would be indicated. Include enough detail to support your assertion and explain how the data would be used to inform follow-up assessments or interventions. Take care to avoid describing situations in which a functional analysis would be a more accurate and efficient choice of an assessment.

Below is an example response to the same discussion prompt above; please use it to gain information and inspiration, but do NOT copy directly:

Descriptive assessment (DA) is one of three functional assessment methods. What makes it different than the other two: functional (or experimental) analysis and indirect assessment is that the described series of naturally occurring events do not have a functional relationship with those events (Fisher et al., 2011). There is no experimental manipulation on a specific variable to make a direct connection to the problem behavior. Although DA measures behavior and environmental events through repeated direct observation (Fisher et al., 2011), it provides a broader range of direct observations in various settings. The observations can provide an overview of the environment in relation to the behavior.


A recent study was conducted on the use of DA in primary school in Iran. In 2009 primary schools in Iran were required to use DA in the school system. The Supreme Court Council, who determines the curriculum for the education system, found many benefits to DA. Teachers collected and documented the students work by a variety of different methods. The Teachers Guidance for Descriptive Assessment stated regarding DA that “teachers can assess students’ achievement by collecting and documenting evidence regarding their learning and performance. To do so, different methods can be used, including observations of students during the classes, interviews, student portfolios, performance tasks, and various kinds of tests” (Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen et al., 2021, p. 4). These different methods were able to show students and their parents the students’ strengths and weaknesses. This was also intended to improve adult-child interaction by use of descriptive prompting to help the students/children be compliant with instruction (Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen et al., 2021). Descriptive feedback on the observations of the students was given to each student throughout the year. DA was evaluated by a multiple-case study where the beliefs, values and classroom assessments were examined by surveys, interviews, and observations (Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen et al., 2021).


A portion of the results showed that researchers found a positive relationship between DA, self-efficacy, and the academic achievement. Teachers did have a new view on the process of DA. This was compared to the past, when student assessments evaluated quantitative data to measure the strengths and weaknesses, which showed to have a negative impact on the mental health of students and their families (Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen et al., 2021). Fisher et al. (2011) states that DA is a flexible method that’s easily adaptable and used for multiple purposes. A few include identifying common contingencies in natural settings, establishing a baseline to assess the goals for treatment evaluations, and studying behavioral processes (Fisher et al., 2011).



Fisher, W.W., Piazza, C.C., Roane, H.S. (2011). Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis. The Guilford Press.



Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., Sangari, A.A., Veldhuis, M. (2021). Teachers use of descriptive assessment in primary school mathematics education. Education Sciences. 11(100) 1-23.

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