Using a Checklist to Increase Objective Session Note Writing: Preliminary Results


We evaluated the extent to which a checklist increased objective note writing following simulated teaching sessions for 17 special education staff members. In general, participants improved in their description of the reinforcer earned by the child and of prompts delivered by the teacher during a session. Nevertheless, participants’ correct reporting of problem behavior decreased following the training.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    This does not suggest or imply legal approval for the use of the checklist by readers.


  1. Baio, J., Wiggins, L., Christensen, D. L., Maenner, M. J., Daniels, J., Warren, Z., et al. (2018). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years: Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 67(6), 1.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2016). Registered behavior technician (RBT) task list. Retrieved from

  3. Carr, J. E., & Nosik, M. R. (2017). Professional credentialing of practicing behavior analysts. Policy Insights From the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4, 3–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Carr, J. E., Nosik, M. R., & DeLeon, I. G. (2017). The Registered Behavior Technician™ credential: A response to Leaf et al. (2017). Behavior Analysis in Practice, 10, 164–166.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. Cooper, M. D. (2009). Behavioral safety interventions: A review of process design factors. Professional Safety, 54, 36–45 Retrieved from

    Google Scholar 

  6. Luna, O., Petri, J. M., Palmier, J., & Rapp, J. T. (2018). Comparing accuracy of descriptive assessment methods following a group training and feedback. Journal of Behavioral Education, 27, 488–508.

Download references


We would like to thank Jessica Palmier and Rachel Arena for volunteering to be the child and teacher during this study and Ashley Bates and Lorenzo Webster for their session note coding. We would also like to thank both reviewers for their extensive feedback on the data representation.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Odessa Luna.

Ethics declarations

This manuscript is not under review nor has it been published elsewhere. This submission has been approved by all authors and by the responsible authorities where the work was carried out.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

The participants provided informed consent before the authors initiated the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



Session Note Checklist  
Components Completed?
1. Indicate the task was completed during the session.  
2. Indicate the reward earned/earning during the session.  
3. Indicate the level of prompting needed for the child to complete the task.  
4. Avoid using subjective terms (e.g., in a great mood, bad mood, not feeling it).  
5. Pair positive statements with outlining the behavior (e.g., They did amazing sorting!).  
6. Indicate next steps: Will you continue teaching the same skill? New skills? Steps 6-9 may be needed when writing a note for parents when working in a school setting.
7. Indicate if there are other concerns (e.g., the child said he was sleepy, did not eat today, possible sickness).
8. If severe behavior occurs, touch base with the teacher, supervisor, or administrator (teachers only) prior to writing the note.
9. Ensure the note is sent home as soon as possible.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Luna, O., Rapp, J.T. Using a Checklist to Increase Objective Session Note Writing: Preliminary Results. Behav Analysis Practice 12, 622–626 (2019).

Download citation


  • Checklist
  • Objective writing
  • Registered Behavior Technician
  • Session note
  • Staff training