Using Click Counters to Collect Data

Categories: Data

I am not sure exactly when I started using click counters to collect data. Sometime during my grad school years most likely. Those ABA people have all the good tricks. Although I don’t remember specifically when I started, I do know that I was instantly hooked. It made the data collection process in the moment so much easier. That was always my hurdle. I’d make the beautiful data binders and data sheets, I’d train my staff, but when it would come to actually collecting data in the moment we weren’t there. Using click counters made challenging things like high frequency swearing or aggression to fluency timings for receptive language not only easier to collect data but possible to collect data. Before starting to use click counters – our data on some things was either nonexistent or horribly inaccurate. Click counters made it possible and easy! I told you, I was hooked. 

You can find click counters on amazon for a few dollars. When I explain what these are when I am giving a presentation, I always use the example of what a bouncer uses outside of a bar to count how many people are inside. Not sure that’s the most relevant example! There are no batteries required and in my experience, they are pretty durable. You can use these tools for a wide range of data collection. These work well for frequency count behavior data, academics, and tracking prompts. You can use these quickly and easily in the situation and then transfer the number to a data sheet later.  It works well!

Behavior Data 

These work well for frequency count behavior data. That means, taking data on behavior that can be counted. Not all behavior can be counted. Counting meltdowns, tantrums, or off task behavior can be tricky because they are vary in length – you are probably better off tracking duration or number of minutes. But for things like swearing, hitting, spitting, or throwing, you can count each occurrence. When situations like this occur, it’s often extremely difficult if not impossible to find the data sheet to add the behavior to the total count. When you have a click counter, you can keep it on your clipboard, in your pocket, or on your lanyard and easily and quickly count the behavior. This is great for high frequency behavior or behavior that occurs all over the school. You can add tape with different students’ names and keep track of multiple students at once. 

Academic Data 

We sometimes think of only use click counters for behavior data but these are really useful for academic data too. What is your biggest obstacle to collecting academic data? It’s probably the struggle of having to teach and collect data at the same time. You have octopus arms trying to move around flashcards, provide prompts, explain the concept, keep the student in their seat, deliver tokens, AND take data. We simple don’t have enough hands! Using a click counter for these situations is great. You can keep track of correct task cards, questions, vocabulary words, or prompts on a new activity. Then transfer the number over to the data sheet when the student is down working or enjoying a little iPad break. 

Tips & Tricks 

There are amazing color coded options for click counters. You can assign each student, behavior, staff member, or station a color. Post them in useful spots around your room so you always have access to them. Label them with washi tape or masking tape to indicate specific behaviors or students. Options are endless!


  1. Good morning! I have a question on counter clicking. What is the proper use of one? Is it appropriate to get it in someone’s face and click the counter? Or is it to be used discretely to collect data? Curious because I don’t like the use of it in someone’s face to get their attention. Thank you

  2. Definitely not to be in someone’s face. It’s a discrete and easy way to collect data while teaching or doing other things. I sometimes put it in my pocket!

  3. Thank you! I put it out of sight as well, I did not think this was the proper use of this tool but I am not the lead teacher my background is not SPED, I am a para for SPED. I have an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Human Development and I am currently working on my Masters degree to teach, I am however considering double majoring in SPED. Thank you so much for your response!

  4. Absolutely! Thanks for reading 🙂


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