You are currently viewing Free Guide to Data Collection

Free Guide to Data Collection


Ever wish you had a guide to data collection for your special education classroom? Let’s face it, we know that data is an essential part of our practice, BUT it can be an overwhelming task taking up time and energy! This 8 page Guide to Data Collection is designed to help you identify and define specific behaviors to target, as well as to provide insight into various types of behavior and skill acquisition data collection. In this blog post, we will explore each element of the guide and provide some tips on how to use it effectively.

How to Use the Guide to Data Collection

If you are currently in the field of special education, you have no doubt fully accepted that data collection is a part of our job and understand its importance! However if you are new to data collection, or looking to provide a more detailed explanation for new staff, parents, or family members, the guide’s introduction contains a succinct rationale for collecting both skill and behavior data in your classroom or practice.

Specifically, we want to collect data so that we can analyze it to ensure our teaching and behavior management practices are successful. And if the data shows us they are not currently successful, we can make changes as soon as possible for our students’ benefit! There are also some tips on choosing target behaviors for reduction (to include in behavior management plans) or behaviors for increase (to include in IEP goals and objectives for skill acquisition).

How to Define Behaviors

Any behavior identified for change should be defined in a clear, objective, and measurable way. This will ensure consistency if there are multiple staff members collecting data on the same behaviors! The guide provides 2 examples of a clearly defined target behavior: one targeted for reduction (a maladaptive behavior) and one targeted for increase (a social skill).

4 1 Free Guide to Data Collection

Overview of Common Data Collection Methods

Once you’re familiar with exactly what behavior you are targeting, the next step is choosing which data collection method to use. Included in this guide are brief descriptions of seven common behavior data collection methods: ABC data, frequency, duration, latency, interval, momentary time sampling, and scatterplot. This overview will help you identify which method is best for a specific behavior you are targeting. More detailed descriptions and data sheets for each type are found in this behavior data collection tool kit resource.

behavior data toolkit 1 Free Guide to Data Collection
guide to data collection Free Guide to Data Collection

If you are targeting skill acquisition goals, there is a similar breakdown of three common types of data collection methods utilized to teach new skills:

  • Trial-by-trial data
  • Probe data
  • Task analysis data.

Check out a huge bundle of printable skill and behavior printable data tracking resources here.

Using Paper Data Collection Sheets

This guide has you covered! Included are two printable data collection sheets. The first is for IEP goal daily data collection: columns for the goal (e.g., “Spells name”), the IEP criterion (e.g., “80% accuracy over 3 consecutive data sessions”), the cue (e.g., “Write your last name”), the prompt (e.g., Minimal Physical, Verbal Model, Gesture), the target (e.g., first name, last name, or full name), and five separate blank boxes for “+” or “-” based on your learner’s performance. There is also a final column space for you to enter the total daily percentage score for each skill (e.g., “90%”).

lead magnet data sheet pics Free Guide to Data Collection

The second data sheet is geared toward behavior data- specifically, frequency or tally count of the behavior you are targeting. In addition to sections for your student’s name, and the behavior you are targeting, there are columns for: date, frequency of behavior, and additional notes. This form can be utilized by tallying each instance of the target behavior on the sheet as it occurs. Alternatively, if you are targeting a behavior that is very high in frequency, you may want to OR use a clicker counter such as this one to tally instances of behavior, and then transfer over the final count at the end of each school day or instructional session.

Getting Started with Digital Data Collection

Also included in the guide are links to TWO digital resources. One is a Google Sheet resource designed to track skill acquisition data. Using this tracker, you can enter daily probe data of “yes” (for a correct response) or “no” (for an incorrect response). Duplicate the template for as many IEP goals and/ or students as needed!

lead magnet pic 1 Free Guide to Data Collection
lead magnet 2 Free Guide to Data Collection

The second digital resource is an ABC (Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence) data entry form. This Google Sheet has premade headers for things such as the Antecedent, the Behavior, the Consequence, the date and time of behavior incident, additional notes, etc. Checkboxes are provided under each category (e.g., under “Antecedent” you can click “Demand,” “Low attention,” etc.) to efficiently click through the form to enter your data.


Grab this free guide to data collection today to begin effectively track and measure student progress and make data-informed decisions for instructional planning!


Caitlin Signature

Leave a Reply