Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Demographic Survey of Learning Behaviors among American Students

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Demographic Survey of Learning Behaviors among American Students

Article excerpt

Abstract. A nationally representative survey of students' learning behaviors observed by classroom teachers of 1,500 school-aged American youth is presented. Participants comprised the standardization cohort of the Learning Behaviors Scale (McDermott, Green, Francis, & Stott, 1999) stratified according to the U.S. Census. Base rates of learning behaviors are analyzed for both rank-order precedence and overall prevalence across demographic categories of sex, ethnicity, age group, parent education, residence location, household configuration, and special education status. Correlations detected minimal variability in behavioral item rankings across demographic groups. In contrast, multiple ordinal logistic regression demonstrated considerably increased odds of maladaptive learning behaviors among males and students in special education. Moderate differences were found for age, ethnicity, and low parent educational level, whereas few differences were associated with location of residence or family constellation.

**********

Behavioral observation of youth in their home, school, and community settings can provide useful information as to their ability to successfully cope with the inherent demands placed upon them in various environments. These settings represent what Bronfenbrenner (1979) identified as primary and secondary developmental contexts in which children observe and develop skills under the guidance of more knowledgeable individuals--whose interactions with, and active support of, the child via appropriate engagement are crucial to healthy child development (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). Children's interactions in various settings may differ as a function of setting characteristics, revealing situational specificity and highlighting the need for assessing the contribution of the environment on children's behavior (Gutkin & Curtis, 1999; McDermott, Steinberg, & Angelo, in press; Morris & Midgley, 1990; Schaefer, Watkins, & Canivez, 2001). In the school setting, children's behavior--whether functional or dysfunctional--reflects their response to learning demands, social interactions, adult directives, and other stimuli present in the environment. Not surprisingly, variability in youths' adaptive behavior, social skills, psychopathology, and other related domains has been well documented (Achenbach, Dumenci, & Rescorla, 2002; Caldarella & Merrell, 1997; Harrison & Oakland, 2001; McDermott, 1994, 1999).

Whereas descriptions and anecdotal information concerning behavior can provide some qualitative information, behavior observation systems are useful for assessing children's social, emotional, or behavioral problems in natural settings via direct observation and systematic recording of observations of targeted behaviors (Merrell, 1994). Normatively standardized rating scales are an objective method of obtaining summative data that permit the delineation of similar patterns of behavior into behavioral syndromes. Using these syndromes, individuals' behavior can be compared to typical same-aged youth (Merrell, 1994). The accuracy of judgments and ratings has been established (Hoge & Coladarci, 1989), and the utility of behavior rating scales has been widely documented (e.g., Elliott, Busse, & Gresham, 1993; Kamphaus & Frick, 2002; Merrell, 2003; Sattler, 2002), provided that adequate evidence of sound scale development and psychometric support is presented for the instrument (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999; Edelbrock, 1983).

As rated by parents, teachers, or youth, rating scales' factor analytically derived subscales are deemed to represent underlying constructs such as social skills or behavioral maladjustment. Some instruments focus on particular diagnoses such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (e.g., ADHD Rating Scale-IV; DuPaul, Power, Anastopoulos, & Reid, 1998) or depression (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.