Essay Sample on Single-Subject Method

Published: 2021-07-14
612 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
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The single-subject method is an appropriate research method used in applied fields of human behavior, counseling, education, and psychology. The subject serves his/her control individually rather than depending on others (Gonnella, 2009).

This design is best when documenting an individual behavioral change, and the participant will serve as both control and treatment group unlike ways used in other experiments. It is an easy method because only one variable is changed over time and the researcher uses line graphs in showing the effects of treatment (James, 2016). The single-subject design is efficient because it aids in identifying the problem, taking pre-intervention measures and providing actual intervention, taking other additional measures and finally making decisions about the outcome of the intervention (Gonnella, 2009). This makes it necessary when evaluating practice which requires close monitoring such as behavioral change.

This design has three components; repeated phase, baseline phase and treatment phase. Repeated phase involves measuring the target problem at a regular intervals e.g. hours, days, weeks or months. At baseline phase, the repeated measurements of the problem being investigated are taken from the status of the client with the stated problem. These measurements not only serve as a control group but it also solves the issue. Lastly, treatment phase is the stage where the intervention is being implemented. The repeated measurements of the problem are obtained, and their patterns are compared to data at baseline phase so as to determine the occurrence of change (Cakiroglu, 2012).

A behavior problem which is likely to be common in transitional housing is anti-social behavior. This involves intimidating people they live with, threatening, verbal abuse and bullying others. Other related actions are vandalism, property damage, homophobic behavior and racial harassment. This behavior is typical in few individuals within a group thus the single-subject method is critical in analyzing this problem. The first action is to identify the individuals who possess the problem and establish the effects the behavior problem has caused through interviewing several persons affected by the problem. Possible effects include injuries to victims, damage to properties, and damage on the psychology of the victims.

The next step is to plot the frequency of the behavior in a line graph while implementing ways to solve the issue. Intervention programs which aim at having anti-social behaviors stopped, compensation in cases of damage and injuries, apology or eviction should be devised while not affecting the other individuals. Repeated measurements are done while implementing the intervention so as determine changes which have occurred to the client with target problem. Close monitoring should be done weekly because the behavior requires urgency because it can affect other individuals living in transitional homes.

Lastly, the data collected during the repeated measurements are then compared and analyzed to determine any behavioral changes. Final interventions are implemented such as conducting mediation between the individual and his/her victims, getting help from the local authority or going to courts if the behaviors become unbearable to other people. This treatment phase, however, should take a long time so as to come up with best and efficient solutions to the problem.

The best approach to apply in this case is baseline approach. This is because it allows the researcher to collect data on the dependent variable without involving other independent variables (Cakiroglu, 2012). The other reason is that it helps to focus on understanding the objective behavior by manipulating and controlling it while collecting data which are analyzed quantitatively.


Cakiroglu, O. (2012). Single subject research: Applications to special education. British Journal of Special Education, 39(1), 21-29.

Gonnella, C. (2009). Single-subject experimental paradigm as a clinical decision tool. Physical therapy, 69(7), 601-609.

James, K. P. (2016). Single-subject research method: The needed simplification. British Journal of Education, 4(6), 68-95.


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