Title

Sustained Attention Deficits and Social Outcomes for Children in Elementary School

Poster Number

3

Lead Author Affiliation

Educational and School Psychology

Lead Author Status

Doctoral Student

Second Author Affiliation

Educational and School Psychology

Second Author Status

Doctoral Student

Introduction

School psychologists work with a multitude of children who have sustained attention deficits. The results of previous research show that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have deficits in social cue detections, and that they generate more negative social responses than their typically developing peers (Andrade et al., 2012; Nixon, 2011). While there is research on the social outcomes for students with ADHD, there is a lack of research regarding the social outcomes of students with attention deficits that are not diagnosed with ADHD. This study will extend findings from previous research and will explore the relationship between sustained attention and social outcomes in children who do not have an ADHD diagnosis. School psychologists can utilize these results to help guide their recommendations and provide social interventions for students with attention deficits.

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to determine the effects (total, direct, and indirect) of sustained attention on social competence and loneliness for children in elementary school.

Method

This study will use data from Phase III of the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). Beginning in 1991, the NICHD-SECCYD recruited 1,364 families from 10 states across the United States. Attention was measured in fourth grade using the Continuous Performance Task (CPT). The CPT is a measure of sustained attention in which participants were asked to press a button each time a target stimulus appeared on a computer screen during three different blocks of time. The CPT has adequate test-retest reliability (r=.65-.74), good predictive validity, and high content validity as a measure of attention (Halperin et al., 1991). The two variables specific to the CPT that were utilized in this study were CPT: Proportion Correct Responses and CPT: Time to Refocus Attention in Block 3. Social competence was measured in fifth grade using the Social Aspects subscale of the School Commitment Questionnaire. The School Commitment Questionnaire is a 20 item questionnaire that assesses feelings about school, homework, teachers, and conduct at school. A higher score on the Social Aspects subscale suggests a higher level of social competence at school. Loneliness was measured in fifth grade using the Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Questionnaire. The Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Questionnaire is 24 items long and primarily consists of questions focused on a child’s feelings of loneliness. The Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Questionnaire has adequate reliability (.79 for principal items regarding loneliness). Standardized regression weights, direct effects, indirect effects, and total effects were calculated using a path model in AMOS. Gender and ethnicity were control variables. Additional variables used in the analysis were CPT: Proportion Correct Responses, CPT: Time to Refocus Attention, School Social Aspects and Loneliness.

Results

Controlling for gender and ethnicity, CPT: Time to Refocus Attention and CPT: Proportion Correct Responses significantly affect Social Aspects (R=0.148 p>0.001 and R=-.127, p>0.001 respectively). Social Aspects was negatively related to Loneliness (R=-.452, p>0.001). CPT: Time to Refocus Attention was positively related to Social Aspects. For every standard deviation increase in Time to Refocus Attention, Social Aspects decreases by 0.127 standard deviations. CPT: Correct Responses also has a positive relationship with Social Aspects. For every standard deviation increase in Correct Responses, Social Aspects increases 0.148 standard deviations. Finally, Social Aspects was negatively related to Loneliness. For every standard deviation increase in Social Aspects, Loneliness decreases by -.452 standard deviations. Both Time to Refocus Attention and Correct Responses are positively related to Loneliness. For every standard deviation increase in Time to Refocus Attention, Loneliness increases by .072 standard deviations. For every standard deviation increase in Correct Responses, Loneliness decreases by .067 standard deviations. In total, for every standard deviation increase in Time to Refocus Attention, Loneliness increases by .063 standard deviations. Also, for every standard deviation increase in Correct Responses, Loneliness decreased by .101 standard deviations.

Significance

Sustained attention has an effect on social outcomes for students in elementary school. Specifically, as Time to Refocus attention increases, Social Aspects significantly decrease. As Correct Responses increase, Social Aspects also significantly increase. Finally, As Social Aspects increase, Loneliness significantly decreases. A major limitation to this study is that it only focuses on fourth grade students. Future research should focus on earlier grades to promote early intervention strategies for social competence. With this research in mind, school psychologists can more thoroughly understand the relationship between sustained attention deficits and social outcomes. Because attention deficits result in poorer social outcomes, school psychologists can now target additional students who may benefit from social interventions. These results may also be useful for students in special education, as professionals can use this information to create social goals.

Location

DUC Ballroom A&B

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Morning

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Apr 29th, 10:00 AM Apr 29th, 12:00 PM

Sustained Attention Deficits and Social Outcomes for Children in Elementary School

DUC Ballroom A&B

School psychologists work with a multitude of children who have sustained attention deficits. The results of previous research show that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have deficits in social cue detections, and that they generate more negative social responses than their typically developing peers (Andrade et al., 2012; Nixon, 2011). While there is research on the social outcomes for students with ADHD, there is a lack of research regarding the social outcomes of students with attention deficits that are not diagnosed with ADHD. This study will extend findings from previous research and will explore the relationship between sustained attention and social outcomes in children who do not have an ADHD diagnosis. School psychologists can utilize these results to help guide their recommendations and provide social interventions for students with attention deficits.