Date of Award

8-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Christopher H. Skinner

Committee Members

Thomas George, Laura Wadlington, Edward Counts

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate if specific psychoeducational diagnosis influences pre-service teachers’ awareness of students’ prosocial and antisocial behaviors. The student diagnostic categories included (a) general education students, (b) students with behavior disorders, (c) students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and (d) students with learning disabilities or mild mental retardation.

Two experiments made up the current study. In both experiments, pre-service teachers were shown a video tape of middle school students in a classroom during a transition period engaged in different prosocial and antisocial behaviors. After viewing the tape, students were asked to write narrative descriptions of what occurred on the tape. These narratives were used to collect data on (a) specific instance of antisocial and prosocial behaviors (these were the six instances that were intentionally included on the tape), (b) general reports of positive and negative behaviors, and (c) positive and negative student characteristics.

In Experiment I, three groups of pre-service teachers were shown the tape with students identified as (a) general education students (GE), (b) students with behavior disorders (BD), and (c) with learning disabilities or mild mental retardation (LD/MMR). The results revealed that across all three groups, pre-service teachers reported more negative than positive student behaviors and characteristics. The current data failed to support the hypothesis that student classification categories would affect participants’ recording rates of inappropriate and prosocial behaviors and student characteristics.

In Experiment II, three groups of pre-service teachers were shown the tape with students identified as (a) general education students (GE), (b) students with behavior disorders (BD), and (c) students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The findings from Experiment II showed that pre-service teachers reported more general antisocial behaviors and student characteristics than general prosocial behaviors and student characteristics. The significant main effect for group was found for general behaviors as well as for student behaviors and characteristics combined. The participants reported significantly more general antisocial behaviors and characteristics for the GE and ADHD groups than for the BD students. There was no significant group interaction for the groups (GE, BD, and ADHD).

Overall, the findings of both experiments revealed that pre-service teachers hold similar expectations about general and special education students’ behaviors. Across all groups (GE, LD/MMR, BD, and ADHD), the pre-services teachers tended to focus on inappropriate student characteristics and behavior as opposed to prosocial behaviors and characteristics. Student diagnostic categories may not impact pre-service teachers’ awareness of students’ behavior.

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