Count On It! – A Simple Solution for Gathering Frequency Data


One of the challenges of data collection is in the difficulty of recording an accurate count. Teachers and therapists cannot easily carry a clipboard and pen in classrooms or therapy sessions.

Behavioral interventions require data. Decisions are made on the basis of the data collected. Decisions for program changes take into account the performance of the client, often as a frequency count, sometimes within a given period of time. The data is charted so that it can be shared with other stakeholders in case conferences, research papers, staff meetings and professional conferences.

Many years ago while working in classrooms with special needs students, my colleague, Eric Haughton showed me a simple hands-free tool for collecting data – a bead counter made from a shoelace, a clip and some beads, which attached to my belt. See the picture below.

Making a bead counter

* Make sure you select a flat athletic lace that is twenty-four inches in length. (beads slide down on round laces).

* The lace is tied so that it has two different length strands.

* As well, knots are tied at different levels along each of the two strands.

* Each strand has a knot tied above the beads, nine beads and a second knot tied below the beads. The fifth bead in each strand is a different color.

* The longer strand of beads becomes the one’s column. The shorter strand becomes the ten’s column.

Using the bead counter

Move both sets of beads to the top knot of its strand to begin. Clip the counter to some part of your clothing. Each time you observe the targeted behavior, simply slide one bead in the one’s column down to the lower knot. When you move the last bead in the one’s column to the bottom knot, you have a score of nine. When the next targeted behavior is observed, you move all of the beads on the one’s column up the strand to the top knot. Then you move the bottommost bead in the ten’s column down to the lower knot on the ten’s strand. Now you have a score often. Repeat this process throughout the observation period. The bead counter can record up to 99 incidents of the targeted behavior. At the end of the observation period record your data on the chart.



How did you do? If you want to share your experiences, or share your data charts, write a comment, or call 1-877-368-1513. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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