Article

KNOWLEDGE OF ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) AND ATTITUDES TOWARD TEACHING CHILDREN WITH ADHD: THE ROLE OF TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Psychology in the Schools (Impact Factor: 0.72). 07/2012; 49(6):511-525. DOI: 10.1002/pits.21617

ABSTRACT Knowledge of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attitudes toward teaching chil-dren with ADHD are compared across stages of Australian teachers' careers. Relative to pre-service teachers with (n = 218) and without (n = 109) teaching experience, in-service teachers (n = 127) show more overall knowledge of ADHD, more knowledge of characteristics and treat-ments for ADHD, and higher perceived knowledge. In-service teachers reported less favorable emotion about teaching children with ADHD than did pre-service teachers without experience and more favorable behaviors than pre-service teachers with experience. Groups did not differ in knowledge of causes of ADHD, overall attitudes, stereotypical beliefs, and beliefs about teach-ing children with ADHD. Identification of knowledge gaps and ambivalent attitudes will guide pre-service and in-service training courses. C 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood men-tal health disorders and is characterized by sustained inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity (Barkley, 1997). Estimates that at least one child with ADHD is present in every classroom (Barkley, 1990) are supported by a worldwide meta-analysis estimating that 5.3% of children and adoles-cents have a diagnosis of ADHD (Polanczyk, de Lima, Horta, Biederman, & Rohde, 2007). Thus, the likelihood of new graduates teaching a child diagnosed with ADHD early in their careers is high. Behaviors associated with ADHD, such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, are no-ticeable in classrooms because school settings require children to behave in ways that are at odds with the symptoms of the disorder (Kos, Richdale, & Hay, 2006; Salmelainen, 2002). Therefore, not surprisingly, many studies identify teachers as the most frequent initial referral source by recom-mending to parents that their child receive assessment for ADHD (e.g., Snider, Busch, & Arrowood, 2003; Stroh, Frankenberger, Cornell-Swanson, Wood, & Pahl, 2008). Additionally, teachers' obser-vations about the child's functioning in task-oriented and social situations are used in classification and treatment decisions (Vereb & DiPerna, 2004). Teachers are also often responsible for imple-menting and evaluating interventions for ADHD in the classroom (Ohan, Cormier, Hepp, Visser, & Strain, 2008; Vereb & DiPerna, 2004). Thus, teachers play central roles in reporting symptoms, advising parents to seek assessment, and assisting children with ADHD to achieve academically and socially. Authors of theoretical papers (e.g., Greene, 1995) and reviews of empirical research (e.g., Sherman, Rasmussen, & Baydala, 2008) have argued that teachers' knowledge and attitudes regard-ing ADHD are likely to influence their roles and the subsequent behavioral and learning outcomes for children. Although there is little empirical work on the influence of teacher characteristics on child outcomes (Sherman et al., 2008), several authors explicate how teacher knowledge and We thank Professor Martin Hayden, Professor Len Unsworth, Dr. Judith Wilks, Tony Yeigh, all school principals, and everyone who helped to recruit participants. Thank you to all the teachers and education students who participated.

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