Unplanned effect of the gender of the child on the diagnostic decisions of school psychologists

Joan Diane Hoffenberg, Fordham University

Abstract

This study had a two-fold purpose: to study the influence of the gender of the child on the diagnosis, perception of relative health or pathology, intervention strategy recommended, placement choice and prognosis for the child; and to study the relationship between selected psychologist characteristics and attitudes and the differences in the way psychologists judged boys and girls.^ To these ends, the Sex-Stereotype Questionnaire was developed. The SSQ presented actual data from two school-aged children. Each case was presented as either a boy or a girl; each psychologist read one boy and one girl case. The school psychologists also responded to an educational attitude scale (ES-VII), a measure of the centrality of their gender schema (BSRI), and a measure of dogmatism.^ Forty school psychologists, each of whom was working as part of a School Based Support Team and had at least one year's experience, volunteered to be the subjects. After all the data had been collected, it was found that there were clear differences in the way school psychologists judged boys and girls, particularly in one of the cases. In addition, the group was, on the whole, low in dogmatism, had decidedly progressive educational attitudes, and had well-developed gender schema.^ The results of the study indicated gender did indeed exert an unplanned influence on the diagnostic and clinical decisions of the school psychologists. More specifically, there was a significant relationship between child's gender and school psychologists' assessment of the relative health or pathology of a child; between child's gender and diagnostic decisions; and between child's gender and class placement. There was no significant relationship between child's gender and prognosis or amount of intervention recommended. The meaning of these findings is discussed.^ There was also support for a significant relationship between selected psychologist characteristics and the differences in the clinical decisions the psychologists made for boys and girls. Specifically, the centrality of the psychologists' gender schema, the degree of dogmatism, and, to a lesser extent, progressive educational attitudes, all were related to differences in the ways school psychologists diagnosed boys and girls. Implications for current school psychological practice and future research are presented. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Hoffenberg, Joan Diane, "Unplanned effect of the gender of the child on the diagnostic decisions of school psychologists" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918446.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8918446

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