VARIATIONS IN ATTENTION-TO-TASK OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH LEARNING-DISABILITIES AS RELATED TO CLASSROOM STRUCTURE

DOUGLAS LEWIS FRIEDMAN, Fordham University

Abstract

Attentional problems are of central importance in the definition and identification of children with learning disabilities. While the majority of research (laboratory experiments) relating the construct of attention to learning disabilities has tended to support an attentional deficit hypothesis, the findings have not always been consistent. More importantly, these studies have failed to explain variation in attention of children with learning disabilities, which is sometimes in the normal range. Classroom studies have tentatively identified contextual variables related to these fluctuations in attention. The present study was designed to define more precisely the role of such variables in influencing the attending behavior of students with learning disabilities.^ Twenty-four mainstreamed children with learning disabilities from a New York City school district were the subjects in the study. They were observed in both the regular class and the resource room. Both student behaviors relating to academic engagement and the classroom settings in which they occurred were coded.^ Differences in the rate of academic engagement for children with learning disabilities were tested across a number of contextual variables using independent and paired t -tests. Children were found to be significantly more engaged in the resource room than in the regular class (p $<$.05) and more off-task in the regular class than the resource room (p $<$.05). Also, they were significantly more engaged in the resource room both for direct instruction and seatwork (p $<$.05). Within the resource room, students were engaged 15% more of the time during direct instruction than during seatwork (p $<$.10). In the regular class, there was no difference for these two types of instruction. Also, children with learning disabilities were engaged significantly less than peers without handicaps when entire class engagement was above 75% (p $<$.05), while below 75%, there was no difference between the two groups. However, target children's engagement rates varied significantly across the two levels of entire class engagement.^ Results are discussed in terms of the importance of environmental contexts for understanding variation in academic engagement of children with learning disabilities. Suggestions are made for identification and instruction of children with learning disabilities and for further research. ^

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

FRIEDMAN, DOUGLAS LEWIS, "VARIATIONS IN ATTENTION-TO-TASK OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH LEARNING-DISABILITIES AS RELATED TO CLASSROOM STRUCTURE" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8725675.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8725675

Share

COinS