What does the research tell us about the use of Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) to measure behavioral progress?

Question: What does the research tell us about the use of Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) to measure behavioral progress? 

Answer: One example of a behavior progress monitoring tool, which has been developed over the past 15 years, is something called Direct Behavior Rating (DBR). Direct Behavior Rating is essentially the old home school notes or daily behavior report cards. These have been in schools for literally decades. There are books and there were classes on home school notes in [the] 1960s and the 1970s. So this isn’t a new technology at all. What DBR do are take the old home school notes or the old unhappy face, neutral face, smiley face and try to instrumentalize and proceduralize them in a way so that those actual ratings become outcome data that somebody can utilize. My particular research team, with Sandy Chafouleas at the University of Connecticut, has been looking at these particular tools over the past now 15 or so years. And what we’ve found is that when you use some very particular technology (so for example moving over to a 10-point scale rather than an old 3 or a 5-point scale), when you target on specific behaviors (for example academic engagement, disruption and respect worded in a particular manner), and when you do these ratings immediately following a particular period of time (so at the end of math class or at the end of the morning activities or at the very end of the day) the ratings can get within about to 10 to 15 percent of systematic direct observation ratings. Now that means that they are not as accurate as the actual behavior. These are of course a combination of the teacher perception and the child’s behavior. But you’re able to collect them over and over and over again; which results in a sense being able to have 5, 10, 15 data points per phase rather than what we’ve been traditionally doing looking at 3 or 4 or 5 data points, and those being very, very high stakes data points.

One of the other attractive features of DBR is that they really take the teacher perception in mind. Social behavior is an interesting concept. It’s not just that is the child misbehaving, but it’s also is the person working with the child perceiving that as misbehavior. If the person isn’t annoyed by the activity, the teacher isn’t annoyed by a particular activity, it’s not annoying behavior. It might be very frustrating to somebody else, but for that individual teacher it doesn’t represent a social behavior problem. So DBR allows us to capture both the teacher perception and a proxy of the child’s actual behavior itself.

Obviously the most attractive element of DBR, beyond that they are reliable and valid for this particular purpose, is that they are incredibly feasible. Training for DBR takes about 15 or 20 minutes. There are online training videos which teachers can watch, they can learn about DBR, and they can go through the ratings. So it’s very easy to train teachers to do this. It’s also incredibly easy for teachers to do on a daily basis. It literary takes as much time to pull out the piece of paper as it does rate engagement, disruption or respect. It’s an incredibly easy way for the teacher to collect data in a non-invasive fashion. You don’t have anybody come in to the room and change people’s behavior. You don’t have to have the teacher go through an elaborate process or sit down and do a long rating scale. So it’s a very, very easy method. 

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention