Educational Interventions for Students with Attention Deficit Disorder

By Fiore, Thomas A.; Becker, Elizabeth A. et al. | Exceptional Children, October-November 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Educational Interventions for Students with Attention Deficit Disorder

Fiore, Thomas A., Becker, Elizabeth A., Nero, Rebecca C., Exceptional Children

In this article, we review and organize the current research-based knowledge on nonpharmacological interventions relevant to educating students with attention deficit disorder (ADD).

We conducted a search of the literature through an iterative process designed to identify work of historical significance, as well as ongoing projects. Our search methods included (a) computer searches of databases in education, psychology, and medicine; (b) requests to ADD organizations for intervention materials and reference lists; (c) letters to leading researchers who have published work related to educational interventions; and (d) pursuit of reference trails from research articles, review articles, and book chapters. Because the criteria for defining and identifying attention deficits have changed over time, we included studies with subjects whom researchers identified as having characteristics or behaviors associated with ADD, whether or not formally diagnosed. Though our focus was on nonpharmacological interventions (Swanson and his colleagues review pharmacological interventions elsewhere in this issue), we included studies that compared drug therapy with other interventions.

After screening for subject characteristics, applicability in education settings, recency (or historical importance), and methodological soundness, we identified 137 empirically based articles for inclusion in an electronic database. The articles we cite here are either representative of that body of work, particularly noteworthy for their clarity on various topics, or unique in their findings. In the following sections, we review the empirical evidence according to four topic areas of interest to educators: behavior management, academic instruction, home-school collaboration, and comprehensive programming.

Before describing the empirical evidence related to each of these topics, we must note two important limitations that affect the validity of the work we describe. First, investigators have collected relatively few data on interventions in public school classrooms. Clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, and physicians conducted most of the reported research in laboratory or clinic settings (including clinic-based classrooms); only 21 of the 137 studies reported on interventions in actual classroom settings. If we had limited our review to those studies set in actual schools, we would have had little to report.

Second, the subjects for the studies we reviewed are far from a homogeneous group. A great range of characteristics guided the investigators as they identified the children with attention deficits who served as subjects, partly because the definition of ADD has changed over time (see McBurnett et al., this issue). In addition, for many studies, the investigators determined that subjects had attention deficits based on screening instruments rather than through formal diagnostic protocols. For other studies, the investigators were interested in a single ADD characteristic (such as hyperactivity) and thus chose subjects on measures of that characteristic alone. These subject-selection issues raise concerns about the generalization of the findings to other children or youth with ADD and signal a need for caution in making comparisons across studies.


Research in behavior management with children with ADD has focused on increasing on-task behavior, task completion, compliance, impulse control, and social skills while reducing hyperactivity, off-task behavior, disruptive behavior, and aggression. The following overview examines studies that employed behavioral or cognitive-behavioral strategies--the two nonpharmacological treatments for managing children with ADD that have been most extensively investigated.

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy, behavior modification, and contingency management all refer to strategies that use reinforcement and punishment to establish or reduce target behaviors.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Educational Interventions for Students with Attention Deficit Disorder


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?