Teacher attributions for the behaviour of students with ADHD: The role of student likeability

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Cousineau, Laura
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This study examined the effect of child behaviour (i.e., ADHD-hyperactive/impulsive vs. ADHDinattentive vs. control) and child likeability (i.e., likeable vs. unlikeable) on teacher attributions for behaviour in a sample of 31 elementary and high school teachers. Teachers were asked to read vignettes describing a hypothetical likeable or unlikeable student exhibiting behaviours consistent with ADHD or no ADHD. Teacher responses to the hypothetical student were assessed using (a) attribution ratings on the dimensions of locus, control, and stability, (b) ratings of helping behaviours with respect to referral, accommodations, and perceived manageability of student behaviour, and (c) an open-ended response section in which teachers could provide rationale for their responses to items on rating scales. Results partially supported previous findings of adult attributions for the behaviour of children with ADHD. Teachers rated ADHD behaviour as more externally caused, uncontrollable, and unstable and indicated that they would be likely to refer students with ADHD for further services and would be more likely to provide accommodations for these students. Finally, teachers indicated that they felt less confident in their ability to manage the behaviour of students with ADHD. Student likeability interacted with student behaviour on some attributional dimensions but not others, suggesting that more research is needed to elucidate the impact of this personality factor on teacher perceptions of students with ADHD. Implications for teacher education, student success, understanding the role attributions in classroom management of ADHD, and future directions are discussed.
Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) , Student behaviour , Learning disabilities , Classroom management