Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 44 Issue 2, p. 71–89, 2009
The authors explored the beliefs of teacher candidates, from various levels of training, regarding the effectiveness of potential interventions for childhood disorders. They were primarily interested in participants’ responses to three categories of interventions: (a) evidence-based, (b) controversial, and (c) primarily anecdotal.
351 Students from three educational levels participated in this study. The largest group, 242 students, were enrolled in a sophomore course in human development (HD), a prerequisite for the graduate-level teacher education program at a southeastern university. 55 students were enrolled in an upper-level course in educational psychology (EP). 54 teaching interns made up our third group of participants.
Among the three groups, approximately 75% were females and 24% were males. Approximately 77% listed their ages as between 18 and 25 years. Of the total number of participants, 91.5% described their racial/ethnic group as White, 4.8% as African American; less than 1% as Asian and 1.1% as another ethnic classification (unspecified).
The authors found that the participants’ endorsement levels across three types of disorders (autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], and dyslexia) varied but not in a consistent manner, with only a few noticeable trends across interventions. Furthermore, respondents tended to endorse interventions, whether evidence-based or not, without admitted prior exposure to information about them. The results suggest that more attention should be paid to teaching critical evaluation skills as a part of preliminary training of future educators.
The potential for practicing teachers, who often serve as a readily available consultant for parents of children with disabilities, to pass on misinformation poses a potential dilemma that should be addressed in teacher training programs.