Event Recording

What is event recording?

Event recording is a process for documenting the number of times a behavior occurs. An observer using event recording makes a tally mark or documents in some way each time a student engages in a target behavior. The observer also records the time period in which the behavior is being observed. For instance, a teacher may be interested in the number of times a student correctly pronounces a word, asks for help, leaves the desk, participates in class, arrives to class on time, or interacts positively with peers.

Event recording takes place during a specific time period. For example, it may be necessary to observe a student during math class from 9:00-9:30 over several days to see a pattern of behavior. Information about the frequency of a behavior is obtained by recording within a specific time period. For instance, a teacher may collect event recording data every day during the 9:00-9:30 class. When the length of time varies, the data gathered during event recording is documented as a rate. For instance, the rate may reflect the number of behaviors per minute or per hour.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of event recording?

The major advantage of event recording is that it can be easy to implement and can be used while teaching class. There are several easy ways to keep track of behaviors as they occur: You can use a wrist counter; make tally marks on a piece of paper, or put paperclips, pennies, or buttons in one pocket and move them to a different "target" pocket as each behavior occurs. At the end of the observation period, it is a simple task to look at your wrist counter, add up the number of items in the "target" pocket, or count the number of tally marks on a recording form.

Event recording is not as helpful when the behavior of interest occurs at a really high rate or occurs over extended periods of time. Behaviors that may occur at a high rate or over extended periods could include temper tantrums, reading, staring off into space, or talking to peers. In these cases event recording may not be the best measurement choice.

When should event recording be used?

Event recording can be used if your objective is to increase or decrease the number of times a behavior occurs. When the behavior that you are looking at can be easily counted, event recording may be the best method to use since it can be easy to record and in many cases can be completed without interfering with ongoing activities. A behavior can be easily counted when:

  • The behavior has a clear beginning and end so that you can easily tell when the behavior starts and when it ends, and
  • It does not happen at such a high rate that it is hard to document.