Improving behaviour classification consistency : a technique from biological taxonomy

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Choi, SH, Nieminen, T, Bahr, M & Bahr, N 2002, 'Improving behaviour classification consistency : a technique from biological taxonomy', Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2002, Brisbane, Qld., December.

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Peer Reviewed



Quantitative behaviour analysis requires the classification of behaviour to produce the basic data. In practice, much of this work will be performed by multiple observers, and maximising inter-observer consistency is of particular importance. Another discipline where consistency in classification is vital is biological taxonomy. A classification tool of great utility, the binary key, is designed to simplify the classification decision process and ensure consistent identification of proper categories. We show how this same decision-making tool - the binary key - can be used to promote consistency in the classification of behaviour. The construction of a binary key also ensures that the categories in which behaviour is classified are complete and non-overlapping. We discuss the general principles of design of binary keys, and illustrate their construction and use with a practical example from education research.