Collecting objective information on behavior like frequency, duration, latency, or intensity gives us an excellent basis for making decisions about the nature and causes of behavior. The numbers by themselves are helpful but there are ways to translate raw numbers into a display that helps viewers to judge what is happening to the behavior over time.

Data Table
Date:
3/1
3/2
3/3
3/4
3/5
3/6
3/7
3/8
3/9
3/10
Value:
10
20
15
30
20
30
26
30
38
31

Graphs are such displays and play an important role in behavior analysis. Measurements of a behavior at any point in time capture only a snapshot of the behavior but not how that behavior is changing over time. If we make multiple measurements at regular time intervals we can display each of these measurements as a point on a graph.

Time is usually displayed on the horizontal axis, increasing from left to right. The measure of the behavior (frequency, duration, etc.) is then displayed on the vertical axis. Each measurement is plotted on the graph as a data point, at the intersection of the time value and the behavior value.


Graphs are particularly useful for a number of things including:

  • helping us to detect trends in the data
  • visualizing the values of a large amount of data at one time
  • comparing one group of data points with another


A graph is a presentation of:

Wow, that went fast! As we said, learning to look at behavior in a more scientific and objective way will really help you to analyze what's going on in your teaching situation. This will help you to decide how you can best act to increase or decrease behavior. That's what teaching is all about.

Now, you should continue your learning experience by taking the short Mastery Test. Just click below to continue.

(C) 2001 J. Tyler Fovel, All Rights Reserved