Self-monitoring (also known as self-evaluation, self instruction, goal-setting, and strategy instruction) is a research-based system for individuals to increase their independence. Additionally, it helps people improve a wide array of behaviors through self-assessment and self-regulation (Davis et al., 2016). Self-monitoring systems are used in a variety of settings, including schools, homes, supporting living environments, day programs, etc. They can also be used with a wide age range. Benefits of self-monitoring systems include:

  • Increased independence
  • Increased appropriate behaviors
  • Decreased inappropriate behaviors
  • Improved self-reflection and responsibility

Creating Self-Monitoring Systems:

  • When creating a self-monitoring system, it is important to take many aspects about the client’s goals and abilities into consideration, including, but not limited to:
  • Current reading levels
  • Target behavior(s)
  • Reinforcement schedule(s)
  • Types of reinforcers
  • Access to highly motivating reinforcers that provide the opportunity for delayed access

It is beneficial to create the self-monitoring system in collaboration with the client. This will help them become more invested in the self-monitoring system. In addition, other stakeholders, such as parents, RBTs, BCBA, or other caregivers who will monitor the system, should be involved in the process. This allows stakeholders to voice their opinions regarding which rules should be included. They can also help set the contingencies for the client to earn their chosen reward.

Examples of Self Monitoring Systems:

For an adult client in a group home:

For a student in school:

For a student with limited reading ability:

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How to Use A Self-Monitoring System:

Implementation of the self-monitoring system must initially be closely supervised by one of the leading caregivers to ensure the program is being accurately implemented. At the end of each set scheduled rules check, the caregiver should go through the rules with the client and help them determine if they followed their rules and earned their reward for that period of time. It is important for the client to be the person who is completing the checklist with minimal prompting from the supervising caregiver, while ensuring the client is accurately reporting their behaviors. As the client decides if they followed each individual rule, the caregiver should provide differentiated reinforcement for appropriate behaviors and give clear explanations if/when they did not exhibit appropriate behaviors.

Fading/Transfer of Responsibilities:

Initiate a fading plan to transfer the responsibility of monitoring to the client after the supervising caregiver observes consistent accuracy of the client’s self-reported behaviors. During the transfer of responsibility period, the caregiver should provide the client with less supervision during the documentation time. The client may require a minimal prompt to begin the self-monitoring checklist. They may also request for their caregiver to check their accuracy. When the client demonstrates increased independent accuracy, the supervising caregiver should gradually provide less supervision for the documentation process. Additionally, the supervising caregiver should systematically reduce their frequency of praise until the client is able to independently and accurately report their behaviors and provide themselves with their earned reward (unless it is necessary for the caregiver to provide access to their preferred reward).


To maintain the accuracy of a self-monitoring system, the caregivers should periodically check the client’s accuracy and frequency of their documents. Implement increased supervision as needed, but with a fading plan in place to allow the client for maximum independence.


Davis, J. L., Mason, B. A., Davis, H. S., Mason, R. A., & Crutchfield, S. A. (2016). Self-Monitoring Interventions for Students with ASD: A Meta-analysis of School-Based Research. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 3(3), 196-208. doi:10.1007/s40489-016-0076-y

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Sarah Jimenez, MA, BCBA

Sarah Jimenez, MA, BCBA

Sarah Jimenez, MA, BCBA is a High School / Transition Moderate-Severe Special Education Teacher and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA# 1-19-35000). She received her bachelor's degree in Music and Political Science from the University of California in San Diego and Teaching Credential along with a Master's Degree in Special Education with an Emphasis in Autism from San Diego State University. She has been working in the field of Special Education and Behavior Analysis for over 6 years. She specializes in vocational skills, life skills, emotional management, and functional academics to help prepare students to be as independent and successful in their adult lives. She regularly provides training to support staff and teachers in her district about positive behavioral interventions using ABA techniques and other evidence-based practices.

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