Interval Recording

This week you are going to learn about interval recording as a different way to observe and count students' behaviors.  Be sure to go back and read what I wrote about data collection and writing behavioral descriptions of behavior as it will apply to this lesson too.

Interval recording is a shortcut procedure for estimating the duration or length of a behavior.  In this method, the teacher periodically looks at the student at predetermined (NOT spontaneously selected) intervals and records whether the behavior is occurring.  It is more suited for behaviors that are higher frequency/lower duration (i.e. tapping their pencil), or lower frequency/longer duration (staring out the window).

In order to carry out your interval recording assignment, you again need to:

•  select a child or person to observe and pick a behavior that you would like to observe;
• write a behavior description of that behavior so you know exactly what you will be keeping data on;
• determine the amount of time you will be recording data; for this assignment you need to observe for at least 30 minutes;
• divide the observation period into equal time periods (e.g. 15 second intervals)
• mark whether or not the behavior occurred during each interval. It does not matter how many times the behavior occurred in each interval, only that it occurred at least once. You mark it once in each interval.  This eliminates the task of judging the beginning and ending of a behavioral episode and/or tallying high-frequency behaviors.  If the behavior starts in one interval and carries over the time to the next interval, you record it in both intervals. Remember, you are not collecting data on how often a behavior occurs, but how long it occurs.

The best way to set up your observation sheet is to make a graph that has the number of intervals that you will be observing before you begin to observe.

 10 10 10 10 10 10 Observations 1 . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . 3 . . . . . . . 4 . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . 6 . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . 8 . . . . . . . 9 . . . . . . .

Across the top are the seconds and down the left side are the minutes.  In this graph each minute is divided into 10 second intervals, so for your purposes you would actually have 30 rows for 30 minutes. You can make your intervals anywhere from 5 seconds to 1 minute, depending upon the behavior you choose to observe.  (The shorter the intervals, the more accurate the estimate of the duration of the behavior. If you could do one-second intervals, the data would be very accurate, but we couldn't physically collect that data, so we make our intervals longer.)  On the right side of the graph would be where you would note activities, antecedents and consequences.

Example:

Observer - Linda
Student - Joe - 8 year old - 3rd Grade
Activity - Math Assignment and Independent Seatwork
Time Observed - 15 minutes
/ = off task (defined as playing with toys, talking to others, looking out window)
O=on task (defined as attending (watching, working on paper, working on computer) to teacher or task assigned)

 10 10 10 10 10 10 Observations 1 / O / / / / Teacher is giving math assignment Joe plays in desk 2 / / O / / / 3 / / O O O O Students start math seatwork 4 O O O O O O 5 O O O O O O 6 O / / / / / Student talks to Joe-Joe responds 7 O / O O O O Teacher stands by Joe's seat 8 O O O O O O 9 O / / O O O Joe looks out window 10 O O O O O O 11 O O O / / / Joe finishes seat work 12 / / / / / / Joe plays with toy from desk 13 / / O O O O Teacher sends Joe to computer 14 O O O O O O 15 O O O O O O