Learn to Write Operational Definitions

Operational definitions

An operational definition provides clarity that ensures accurate data collection. Everyone collecting data must know whether the behavior occurs. A definition that lacks precision leads to inaccurate data and uncertainty of the effectiveness of interventions.

Learn to Write Operational Definitions

Learning Modules

Dead Man Test

Parts of the Definition

How to Write an Operational Definition


Learning objectives

This course covers the basics of constructing a clear definition and provides examples of operational definitions for:

  • Escape or Avoidance Behaviors
  • Access to Tangible Behaviors
  • Access to Attention Behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Self-Injurious Behavior
  • Non-Compliance
  • Flopping
  • Eloping
  • Tantrum
  • Crying/Screaming
  • Swearing
  • Throwing

When you’re finished, take our course Crafting a Well-Written Behavior Intervention Plan to put these definitions to use!

This was very helpful in helping me with the basics from my graduate level course on Positive Behavior Supports.

Need more support?

Our ABLE Supporft for BCBAs membership is a great way to get the support that’s so often missing from the field of ABA.  As a member you’ll have access to resources, tools, events and more!

Add on the AID Document Creation Tools feature to create BIPs, FBAs, and treatment plans online!



Amelia is a BCBA working with children and young adults with autism. She has been working in the field since 2009 and has worked in a variety of settings including homes, schools, the community and clinics. She previously taught young children in a variety of settings including Head Start. She has a passion for helping children and families reach their full potential.