Function-Based Thinking

A systematic way of thinking 
about function and its role in
changing student behavior.

Research suggests selecting an intervention that addresses
the function of behavior yields higher success in
changing the problem behavior (Scott, et. al., 2005).

Connecting Problem Behavior, Function and Interventions
click on each box for more information

Function of Behavior Throughout the Support Pyramid

Function based strategies can be implemented across all tiers.  With effective strategies at Tier 1, a solid foundation is in place for additional interventions (if needed).

Applying Function Based Strategies


Function Based Solutions

Escape or Avoid Tasks/Work

  • Address task difficulty
  • Offer instructional choice
  • Sequence tasks
  • Offer additional assistance

Seeking Attention

  • Increase positive acknowledgement
  • Increase opportunities to respond/engagement
  • Increase active supervision-schedule more frequent interactions
  • Increase opportunities for positive peer interactions

Specific Behavior

Function Based Solutions


Gain Adult Attention

  • Praise other students for appropriate behavior
  • Re-teach expectation to raise hand and wait to be called on
  • Increase opportunities to respond/engagement in instruction

Crying/Noises/Saying “no”

Avoid Tasks

  • Address task difficulty (regardless of the student’s academic capability)
  • Offer instructional choice

Noises and Faces at Peers

Gain Peer Attention

  • Increase opportunities for positive peer interactions
  • Peer buddy
  • Incorporate partner activities into instruction