Permanent Product Measurement

What is a permanent product?

Permanent products refer to the real or concrete objects or outcomes that result from a behavior and are used by teachers on an ongoing basis in many different ways. Written homework assignments, the number of completed arithmetic, art projects, creative writing assignments, and weekly in-class quizzes are common examples of permanent products related to academic behavior. In other situations a teacher may be interested in permanent product recording to monitor the occurrence of problem behavior. The number of assignments ripped or crumpled, number of pencils thrown, the number of items broken, or even photographs of self injury that occurs are examples of permanent products.

Permanent products are identified based upon the behavioral definition that has been targeted and what is considered an acceptable outcome for a behavior. For instance, a teacher may be interested in how well a student is cleaning up after an art activity. The behavior identified is defined as removing pieces of paper and debris from the desk. A permanent product outcome may be to count the number of pieces of paper that remain on the desk after the student has finished cleaning up.

Permanent product recording can reflect different types of behaviors in a variety of ways. It may be useful to know how many math problems are completed in class each day. This type of data collection describes the rate of behavior in a defined period of time. Another dimension reflects the force of the behavior. Force may be observed in the damage made due to the pressure exerted while a student is assembling objects in shop class or on paper while learning to write sentences.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of permanent product recording?

The biggest advantage of permanent product recording is that you do not need to observe the student while he or she is engaging in the behavior. Teachers can use permanent product recording strategies without any major changes to their daily activities and responsibilities. Permanent product recording is easy to use and can be applied to many different settings and situations. In addition, permanent products can be filed or stored for review or verification later as needed.

The major disadvantage of permanent product recording is that it is not always clear whether the student actually created the product. Sometimes a work assignment or item created is the product of another student's behavior but there is no way to identify who engaged in the behavior of interest. At times, direct observational measures are more useful than permanent product recording because you can see how the student is engaging in a behavior and better understand the context in which these behaviors occur. For instance, a student who is working on an in class assignment may be distracted by a peer sitting next to him contributing to the lower number of completed math problems during in-class assignments. Permanent product recording will alert you to the decreased number of items but will not provide information about why this is occurring. Sometimes a combination of both direct observation and permanent product recording is the best strategy to use.

When should permanent product recording be used?

Permanent product recording may be the best method to use when the behavior that you are looking at results in a lasting product or outcome. Use permanent product recording when you don't have time to observe the behavior or in combination with one of the other direct observational strategies listed in this module. It is important to confirm if possible that the products created are due to the student's behavior and not the behavior of someone else.