Classroom Behavior: ABC Timeline

Check Out the New Blog Behaviors occur over time and therefore are well represented through a sequence. The ABC Timeline refers to behavior elements arranged in a time sequential fashion:


  • Antecedent
  • Behavior
  • Consequence

One or more environmental factors or events that appear to trigger student behavior. Altering the antecedent may prevent the behavior or make the behavior more likely to occur.

An instructor noted that one of her 3rd-grade students would act out every time he was asked to read in front of a group. She realized that the student was a poor reader and acted out to ‘escape’ having to read publicly.

Actual child’s behavior (e.g., reading, fighting).

The instructor changed the student’s reading program (the antecedent) by removing the student from the reading group and pairing him with a peer tutor from a higher grade level. The student liked working with the peer tutor and stopped acting out to escape reading.

The outcome or consequence of the student behavior that increases or decreases the probability that the behavior will occur again under similar conditions. Changing the consequence will change the probability that the behavior will reoccur.

Improved performance for this student and a better managed classroom create a conducive learning enviroment for everyone.

It is much better to head off problem behaviors proactively than to have to deal with the fallout after ‘trouble’ behaviors have occurred. When we recognize and understand the antecedents, environmental factors that appear to trigger children’s misbehavior, we have the power to change them to result in greater student success.

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies

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