Meaghan Faye

The Relationship Between Inattentive Behaviors and Academic Performance

Background Research Question Method
Results Implications Relevant Links


      Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is considered a developmental disorder of age appropriate attention span, impulse control, rule compliance, and motor restlessness or impulsivity (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).  Children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experience a wider range of behavioral, social, emotional, and educational difficulties than those without the disorder.  A previous study which examined the same area was by Rapport, Scanlan, and Denney (1999) which duplicated a study by Ferguson and Horwood (1995) to examine the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and poor academic performance.  Rapport et al. (1999) results were consistent with those of Ferguson and Horwood's (1995), results which showed that behavior problems do bear a strong relationship to academic performance.  They discovered that attention problems in children do affect later academic achievement, such that children with attention problems will be less successful in school than others without attention problems.
      A similar study by Sagvolden (1999) looked at the altered effects of reinforcers on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  It was demonstrated that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder preferred an immediate reinforcer and could not wait for a delayed reinforcer.  The inattentive and disruptive problems seem to occur the most in situations with low stimuli or low reinforcers.  If a child did not receive immediate feedback, they would not know how to act properly in the classroom.  The results specifically revealed that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could not wait for a delayed reinforcer to stay on task.  Meaning, a student with attention problems needs constant prodding to stay on task because they cannot do it themselves.


Research Question
     This study looked at the behavior of average children in the classroom to see whether or not attention problems have a negative effect on children's academic performance.  The goal of this research study was to determine if there is a negative relationship between inattentive behaviors and academic performance.


     The participants for the current study included twenty-two third graders from a public elementary school.  There was an even ratio of boys to girls and all were of different learning capabilities.  The children's behavior was recorded on a chart, which I designed, and the six behaviors used for the chart were taken from the Connors Teacher Rating Scale  (1997).  The six behavior chosen were blurting out, fidgeting, inattentive behaviors, disturbing other children, getting out of seat, and off task behaviors.  After the consent forms were received from the children's parents the observations began.  Each child was observed in the classroom for six minutes during one period.  At the end of the week each child took a short quiz given and made by the classroom teacher. 



     To examine the relationship between the chosen behaviors and academic performance a series of bivariate correlations were completed .  The results of the study revealed that there was a significant negative relationship  observed between the total number of behaviors, blurting out, fidgeting, inattentive behaviors and quiz scores.  There was no significance found between disturbing other children, getting out of seat, off task behaviors and academic performance.



     The results of the present study indicated that certain behaviors affect the academic outcome more than other behaviors.  It means that inattentive behaviors will negatively effect a students academic performance.  If a child does have attention problems then there academic performance will suffer.  These findings can be applied to further research to determine the effect it has throughout a person's life.

Relevant Links

  •  Living Guide  - It offers information on living with ADD/ADHD: causes, treatment, interventions, and coping strategies.
  •  National Institute of Mental Health  - National Institute of Mental Health publication which describes

  •        symptoms, co-existing conditions, and possible causes, as well as treatment and education options of ADHD.
  • A Handbook for Parents and Professionals -provides parents, educators and health professionals with knowledge to enable them to help                      children with ADD and other related disorders.
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