08 December 2023

Gather information and problem solve

When you understand the purpose of a specific behaviour, you can determine how to respond and intervene.

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Why gather information?

Why gather information?

Knowing why students behave in certain ways will help you predict and prevent problem behaviours.

It provides a basis for planning how to teach alternative ways of behaving, so that students can get their needs met in socially acceptable ways.

Gather information to:

  • better understand what a student is communicating through their behaviour about the difficulties they are having with particular tasks, situations, or expectations
  • identify activities, expectations, and teacher or peer actions that might be triggering the behaviour
  • think about how the learning environment, including responses from teachers and peers, might be reinforcing the behaviour
  • think about the function of the behaviour (that is, what purpose it is serving)
  • think about how the wider learning or social environment might be providing the conditions for disengaged or antisocial behaviour.

Source: Teaching for positive behaviour (opens in a new tab/window)

Functional Behaviour Assessment

Functional Behaviour Assessment

A Functional Behavioural Assessment can help identify the relationship between a behaviour and the context in which that behaviour occurs.

A simple Functional Behavioural Assessment is a systematic, evidence-based process.

  1. Describe the behaviour.
  2. Identify the antecedent.
  3. Identify the consequence.
  4. Identify the function of the behaviour.
  5. Check for setting events (other things going on in the student’s life) and write a hypothesis.

Source: PB4L: School-wide tier two implementation manual (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources

Teaching for Positive Behaviour

Teaching for positive behaviour: Supporting engagement, participation, and learning

Read time: 111 min

This resource supports teachers in all New Zealand primary and secondary schools to understand and draw on effective strategies that enhance students' behaviour, engagement, participation, and learning.

Publisher: Positive Behaviour for Learning

Visit website


Collaborative problem solving

Questions that reflect the kinds of information typically gathered as part of a simple
Functional Behaviour Assessment.

Download PDF (78 KB)

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Understanding how to respond to problem behaviour”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning


Strategies for action: