Comparison of parents' and teachers' perceptions of children's behavior: A study of attentional problems in a natural setting

Lisa Rappaport Deson, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to investigate concordance of reports of hyperactive and distractible behavior from three different sources: parents, teachers, and the child, using two different instruments, the ADHD Rating Scale and the Gordon Diagnostic System (GDS). The incidence rate of attentional problems that any of the sources reported in this naturalistic setting was calculated. Percentages of subjects identified among parents, teachers, and the GDS were examined using Cochran's Q Test statistical analysis (Cochran, 1950). Concordance was found to be poor, meaning that the parents, teachers, and GDS identified different subjects in the sample. Results of Cochran's Q Test indicated that parents classified more subjects as hyperactive and distractible than teachers or the GDS. Although each measure identified some percentage of the sample, overlap among who was identified by each measure was almost nonexistent. Results of this study indicated that changes in the most common ways that children are identified and diagnosed as ADHD need to be revised. These findings suggested that children may exhibit different behaviors in dissimilar settings; consequently, assessing a child in more than one environment is a necessity. Conversely, different raters may also have different standards of what is appropriate conduct; therefore, employing more than one rater to observe and report behavior will ensure a more accurate diagnosis. Universal definitions, guidelines for what is developmentally appropriate, and what constitutes abnormal levels of hyperactive and distractible behavior will help parents, educators, and practitioners. Educating teachers to recognize off-task behavior that is not necessarily intrusive in a classroom might facilitate earlier identification and intervention of distractible children who are not hyperactive. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that sometimes parents view their children as out of control. Classes that teach parents how to establish rules with appropriate consequences for good and bad behavior may reduce the "hyperactive" conduct that mothers and fathers reported so frequently.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Elementary education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Behaviorial sciences|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Deson, Lisa Rappaport, "Comparison of parents' and teachers' perceptions of children's behavior: A study of attentional problems in a natural setting" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9830592.