Moore, Anderson, & Kumar (2005) suggest that difficult academic tasks, such as writing, can function as an antecedent variable that may lead to escape-motivated behavior. Teachers can identify escape-motivated behavior by collecting data and looking for patterns in behavior.
Writing is a very demanding and complex process that requires the incorporation of many different skills simultaneously as noted by Harris, Schmidt, & Graham (1997). Both students and teachers face the challenges of learning and teaching this difficult process. Moore, Anderson, & Kumar (2005) suggest that difficult academic tasks, such as writing, can function as an antecedent variable that may lead to escape-motivated behavior. Students may actually act out to avoid engaging in this often-frustrating task.
Teachers can identify escape-motivated behavior by collecting data and looking for patterns in behavior. For example, is there a pattern of inappropriate behavior(s) for individual students when writing assignments are given by the teacher? Try using a simple scatter plot or Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence chart to informally collect data and identify any patterns (Virginia Department of Education, 2008).
If you suspect that a student is attempting to “escape” writing assignments through inappropriate behavior, then consider conducting an assessment to determine the specific instructional needs of the student. Once these needs are identified, teachers can better determine how to deliver effective and engaging instruction about the writing process and also differentiate writing tasks that will meet the varying abilities and interests of the student. Continue to monitor student progress, both academically and behaviorally, to determine the effectiveness of the instruction.
Several resources have been provided below to help with collecting data and navigating through the difficult process of teaching writing.
The IRIS Center: Teaching modules and informational briefs are provided in this resource.
LD Online: This resource provides information on how to teach writing to students with learning dis- abilities.
T-TAC ODU: Data collection tools for functional behavior assessments are provided in this resource. Appendix B contains sample scatter plots and ABC charts. http://www.ttac.odu.edu/FBA/1FBA%20Intro.htm
Harris, K., Schmidt, T., & Graham, S. (1997). Strategies for composition and self-regulation in the writing process. Retrieved June 24,2008, from http://ldonline.org/article/6207.
Moore, D., Anderson, A., & Kumar, K. (2005). Instructional adaptation in the management of escape-maintained behavior in the classroom. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 7, 216-223.
Virginia Department of Education (2008). Functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention plans, and positive interventions and supports: An essential part of Effective Schoolwide Discipline in Virginia (4th ed.). Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Education.