As parents, you may see your child engaging in a behavior frequently that you would like to see increase or decrease in the future. For instance, If your child is engaging in snacking all day and you want to reduce snacking to 1 time per day. To be able to reduce the amount of time the child is snacking, the first step is to take data on the skill to know where you are starting from (baseline). Once you know the starting place of how often the behavior is occurring, you can put a plan into place to be able to increase/decrease the behavior in the future.
Collecting data on various behaviors or skills is also known as measurement in Applied Behavior Analysis. There are 6 different types of measurement that are broken down into two categories: Continuous and Discontinuous measurement.
Continuous measurement is any type of data that you collect every time it happens. This means you are constantly or continuously taking the data.
The types of continuous measurement are:
1. Frequency- Counting every time the behavior or skill occurs (i.e. Counting every time a child eats a snack)
2. Duration- The length of time the behavior or skill occurs (i.e. The amount of time the child spends eating a snack)
3. Rate- count over a specific amount of time (i.e. The number of times the child spends eating a snack in one hour)
4. Latency- the time from a demand being placed to when the client engages in the skill (i.e. the amount of time it takes from telling the child to clean up a snack to when they start cleaning up)
5. Interresponse Time- The time between responses for a skill or behavior (i.e. The time between each snack)
Discontinuous measurement is any type of data that you collect over a specific sample of time.
The types of discontinuous measurement are:
1. Partial Interval- Break the day into equal parts and place a checkmark on any part of the day that the child snacks (if the day is broken into 30 minutes place a checkmark on any 30 minute interval that he snacks and any part)
2. Whole interval- Break the day into equal parts and place a checkmark if the child snacks during the whole part of the interval (If the day is broken into 30 minutes and the child snacks for a 30 minute interval)
3. Momentary Time Sampling- Breaking the day into equal parts and placing a check mark each time you look up at the designated time and they are engaging in the skill (I.e. If the interval is 30 minutes, set a timer and look up each 30 minutes to see if the child is snacking)
While each way to measure a behavior or skill comes with its own set of pros and cons, choosing a way that fits your window of opportunity to be able to measure the skill will help you to understand how often the skill is happening and provide information to help you navigate where to move the skill in the future.