General Description of the Term

All behavior occurs within and across the dimension of time and is occasioned by and can potentially alter environmental conditions. Decades of research have shown that learning and performance are influenced by environmental events that occur before and after behavior. The term antecedent refers to environmental conditions or events that precede the behavior of interest. Because behavior cannot occur in an environmental void, antecedent conditions are associated with every student response.

Regardless of whether a teacher has planned or is aware of antecedent events, they play a critical part in learning and motivation. For example, the functionally relevant antecedents for a student's performance on a timed math test might include the following: the amount of sleep the student ...

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