Increasing teachers' acceptability ratings for classroom interventions using causal reasoning

Elizabeth Lauren Howell (2002)

This study compared teachers' acceptability ratings of interventions for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a function of exposure to causal statements (statements that contain a mechanism that describes why concepts are related) versus noncausal statements (statements that offer information about concepts without providing mechanisms, e.g., statistics, base-rates, covarying disorders etc.). Elementary teachers (N = 115) received either causal, noncausal, or no statements about ADHD. Causal statements described ADHD symptomology in terms of arousal. Noncausal statements offered information about ADHD (base rates, comorbidities, etc.) but did not provide a mechanism to understand the disorder. The control condition did not offer any educational statements. Participants read a vignette illustrating a child with symptoms consistent with ADHD. They rated the acceptability of response cost (behavioral) and academic (antecedent) interventions (using humor, movement, and alternative modalities to present information) using the Intervention Rating Profile-15 (IRP-15). Teachers in the causal condition rated the academic intervention as more acceptable than teachers in the other conditions. Teachers in the noncausal and control conditions did not rate the behavioral intervention as more acceptable than the academic intervention. In fact, there were no changes in the acceptability ratings of the behavioral intervention in any of the statement conditions. The presentation of noncausal statements was associated with less differentiation between the interventions, and a reduction in the minimum ratings of the academic intervention. There was a trend across conditions indicating that participants rated the academic intervention as more acceptable than the behavioral intervention. This finding was significant in the causal and control conditions. Data did not support a negative correlation between teachers' years of experience or level of prior exposure to children with ADHD and acceptability ratings. The implications for the use of causal statements in teacher training suggest that causal statements are associated with more favorable acceptability ratings of academic interventions than noncausal statements. Trend analyses indicated that noncausal statements are even less effective than no statements at all in increasing the acceptability ratings of academic interventions.