THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RACE/ETHNICITY AND OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLES AND LEVEL OF ADHD KNOWLEDGE: COMPARING PRE-SERVICE AND IN-SERVICE TEACHERS
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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in children (Pelham, Fabiano & Massetti, 2005). Teachers are often the primary source for ADHD referrals (Snider, Frankenberger, & Aspen, 2000; Stroh, Frankenberger, Wood & Pahl, 2008). Additionally, because children spend the majority of the day with their teachers, it is important to understand how teachers’ knowledge and opinions about ADHD could be influenced by multiple demographic variables. The influence of these demographic variables on their knowledge and opinions about ADHD could be reflected in their ratings on ADHD rating scales. This in turn may influence a student’s diagnosis, treatment and educational placement. Only a few studies have examined the impact of teacher demographics on their level of ADHD knowledge. These findings show that teachers with more years of experience are more knowledgeable about ADHD (Jerome et al., 1994; Sciutto, Terjesen & Bender-Frank, 2000). The research on the impact of other demographic variable is limited to single studies that show that race/ethnicity and specialty area are not significant predictors of teachers’ level of ADHD knowledge (Frye, 2011; Snider, Busch & Arrowood, 2003). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among multiple demographic variables and teacher knowledge and opinions about ADHD. These demographic variables included race/ethnicity, school level taught (early or late primary), specialty area (general, bilingual, and special education), and years of experience teaching. Participants included 200 diverse in-service and pre-service teachers from local universities, who were recruited via departmental list-servs. Teacher knowledge about ADHD was assessed by using the Knowledge about Attention Deficit Disorders Scale (KADDS; Sciutto & Feldhammer, 2000). Specific knowledge components of the scale include general information about ADHD, symptoms, and treatment. Teacher opinions about ADHD were assessed by employing a modification of the Teacher Opinions about ADHD scale which was adapted from a measure that originally assessed parental opinions about ADHD (ADHD Knowledge and Opinions Scale-Revised; AKOS-R, Bennett, Power, Rostain & Carr, 1996). Opinions collected included teachers’ views and beliefs about medication acceptability, ADHD training session acceptability, ADHD training session feasibility, teacher coping ability, and opinions on student misbehavior. Results from the Teacher Opinions about ADHD scale revealed that there were no significant differences in teachers’ opinions about medication acceptability, information session acceptability, or information session feasibility, based on the demographic variables. However, there were significant differences in teachers’ opinions about their ability to cope with children with ADHD and student misbehavior based on the teachers’ years of experience teaching. Results from the KADDS revealed that there was a significant difference between pre-service and in-service teachers’ level of ADHD knowledge, with in-service teachers being more knowledgeable about ADHD. Also, results revealed that about 82% of teachers reported that they were aware of specific resources available to them in the school for working with children with ADHD. Additionally, a hierarchical regression (variables were: years of experience, school level, race/ethnicity, and specialty area) was conducted with ADHD knowledge as the dependent variable. Based on the results, the predictor that accounted for the most variance in level of ADHD knowledge was years of experience (explained 5.4% of the variance). A hierarchical linear regression was also conducted to determine if teachers’ opinions about ADHD medication were a significant predictor of their knowledge about ADHD treatment. Results revealed that teachers’ opinions about medication contributed significantly to the regression model (explained 2.3% variance). It is important to note that although the primary investigator found statistical significance in regards to the regression models, the practical significance is minimal. Further research in this area should include a nationally-representative sample to assess teachers’ level of ADHD knowledge and opinions based on additional demographic factors (e.g. university attended, which could account for differences in knowledge based on training curriculum). Additionally, the outcomes of this study may help school psychologists across the country tailor specific teacher-training sessions for teachers about working with children with ADHD.