ADHD News & Research

Review: Teacher Training Programs Improve ADHD Knowledge, Behaviors

When teachers receive training in the symptoms and manifestations of ADHD, the result is improved knowledge and positive behaviors toward students with ADHD, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis.

January 14, 2021

Teacher training programs designed to explain the symptoms and manifestations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) not only improve educators’ knowledge but also promote positive behaviors toward students with ADHD, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.1 The review did not find sufficient evidence that ADHD teacher training improves students’ ADHD-type behaviors.

ADHD teacher training interventions are typically used to “strengthen teachers’ knowledge about ADHD, train them to create a supportive environment in the classroom, and develop strategies to address problem behaviors.” This is the first study to synthesize literature on the efficacy of ADHD teacher training in regard to both teacher and pupil outcomes.

The review included 29 studies pulled from six electronic databases covering medical, educational, and psychology domains: PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus, ERIC, MEDLINE (EBSCO), Web of Science, and Scopus.

Meta-analysis of 22 studies demonstrated a strong link between teacher knowledge and training. This relationship yielded a large effect size of SMD = 1.96 (95% CI = 1.48, 2.43), however researchers cautioned that higher quality evidence is needed to form iron-clad conclusions.

The uptick in ADHD knowledge following these interventions was not sustained at follow-up assessments. In fact, researchers noted a significant decrease in knowledge (SMD = –1.21 (95% CI = –2.02, –0.41) within three months of teacher training ending, though knowledge did remain significantly greater than it was before the training began.

None of the studies offered detailed information about specific interventions or behavioral strategies offered in the training sessions. However, the studies that reported post-training improvement in teacher behavior all followed a common model comprising multiple sessions over 6 to 15 weeks that allowed teachers to discuss the success or failure of strategies they had tried in the classroom. Findings that support behavioral change in students with ADHD-type behaviors were inconclusive.

The potential benefits of ADHD teacher training are significant considering that the diagnostic process for ADHD relies heavily on teachers’ observations of their students. In addition, “teachers’ knowledge of ADHD significantly correlates with teachers’ confidence in their ability to effectively teach children with ADHD,” the study reported, and “create an inclusive classroom and manage behavior.”

View Article Sources

1Ward RJ, Bristow SJ, Kovshoff H, Cortese S, Kreppner J. The Effects of ADHD Teacher Training Programs on Teachers and Pupils: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Attention Disorders. December 2020. doi:10.1177/1087054720972801

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