Is There a School Culture Promoting the Classification of Students Under ADHD Category?

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Marie-Christine BRAULT, Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, Canada, Chaire de recherche sur les conditions de vie, la santé, l'adaptation et les aspirations des jeunes (VISAJ), Canada
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent mental disorder among children, but there is also a large number of them being misdiagnosed (Guay et al. 2009; Kieling et al. 2014). Inequalities in ADHD prevalence are well documented, except for those observed at the school level. Scarce studies have shown that some schools have a higher prevalence than others, even after taking into account the schools structural characteristics and student composition (Fabiano et al. 2013). Limited by their methodology and their choices of predictors, these studies do not provide good explanation for this phenomenon.

Individual teacher beliefs are at the root of stereotypes about students and are thus involved in the classification of students into different categories. Two beliefs seem especially important for ADHD classification: beliefs about ADHD itself and beliefs about what is a good pupil. The main goal of our study is to get a better understanding of school processes that may be associated with the classification of students under ADHD category. Our hypothesis states that school culture regarding ADHD and the ideal teachable pupil, which originates from shared beliefs from teachers of a same school (Van Houtte, 2004), could be a potential explanation for between-schools differences in the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis.

The current presentation will discuss how ADHD and teachability cultures in school may be associated with inequalities in school-based prevalence of ADHD diagnosis. Results come from a study of about 300 teachers, coming from 20 primary schools located in the province of Québec (Canada). Teachers reported their expectations of each pupil in their class, and were surveyed about their individual beliefs. These were aggregated at the school level. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear model. Our study will contribute to the discussion about diagnostic culture, by investigating its specificity in the school environment.