Teaching ADHD: A Mixed Methodological Look into Student-Teacher Relationships and Classroom Experiences for ADHD Diagnosed Students
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Teaching ADHD: A Mixed Methodological Look into Student-Teacher Relationships and Classroom Experiences for ADHD Diagnosed Students


While previous research suggests that the school experiences of students diagnosed with ADHD are often negative, less is known about the relationships that diagnosed students develop with their teachers, as well as what might be contributing to these relationships. ADHD diagnosed students are likely to have much different classroom experiences and relationships with their teachers than their non-diagnosed peers. This dissertation seeks to understand the experiences of ADHD diagnosed students in the classroom and the relationships that they create with their teachers. This project thus addresses four primary research questions: (1) How does the ADHD label impact teacher’s perceptions of their relationships with their diagnosed students?, (2) How do teachers understand and perceive an ADHD diagnosis?, (3) How do teacher’s treat their ADHD diagnosed students in comparison to their non-diagnosed students?, and (4) What expectations and beliefs do teachers hold for guardians of ADHD diagnosed students? Over the next six chapters, you will find an exploration and discussion of each of these questions utilizing a mixed methodological approach. Firstly, through the analysis of the ECLS-K:2011 longitudinal data, it discovers that ADHD diagnosed students are perceived as having poorer student-teacher relationships. In attempt to understand what might be contributing to these poorer student-teacher relationships, the qualitative chapters focus on exploring what teachers and school personnel understand and believe about ADHD. The qualitative data, which consists of 153 hours of classroom observations in middle school classrooms and 30 interviews with teachers and school personnel, reveals three main findings: (1) that most teachers and school personnel know very little about ADHD, (2) ADHD diagnosed students are treated the worst in their classrooms, and (3) that teachers and school personnel have very strong opinions and judgements about how parents should parent their diagnosed students. These findings provide more information on how pervasive negative stigma is for ADHD diagnosed students and has implications for the types of classrooms and policies that schools develop and implement.

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