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Open Access Thesis


Learning disabled children--Psychology; Locus of control; Problem children--Psychology;


Locus of control is one psychological variable which can explain differences in how students deal with difficulties and how they explain these difficulties to themselves. Studies conducted with students who have emotional and behavioral problems have described them as having an external locus of control when compared to their peers (Kauffman, 1985; Morse, Cutler, & Fink, 1964).

In attempts to find identifying charateristics unique to behaviorally disordered students, research by Dean (1978), using emotionally handicapped children, determined that they had a significantly lower Verbal IQ mean than that obtained on the Performance IQ scale p<.01. The differences between Verbal and Performance IQs were not significant for learning disabled children.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between locus of control and a Verbal< Performance IQ discrepancy among behaviorally disordered students and learning disabled students at the intermediate level.

The students involved in this research were presently identified and placed in a learning disability or behaviorally disordered self-contained classroom. The students came from the four intermediate schools located in a metropolitan area in Northeast Iowa. Records of 145 students were reviewed and it was determined that 22 learning disability students and 13 behaviorally disordered students obtained a significant 12-point or greater Verbal< Performance discrepancy on the most recently administered Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) (Wechsler, 1974) The parents of the 35 students identified as having either a learning disability or a behavior disorder received letters asking for permission to involve their child in the study. From the sample of 35 students, 32 participated in the study.

The Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale for Children (NSLOCS) (Nowicki & Strickland, 1973) was then administered, and the results indicated that 6 behaviorally disordered students and 15 learning disability students exhibited an external locus of control orientation, none of the students articulated an internal locus of control orientation, and 11 had an indeterminant locus of control.

Results from the research suggest that a significant Verbal< Performance split on the WISC-Rand an external locus of control did not differentiate between learning disabled and behaviorally disordered students. Within either a learning disability or a behaviorally disordered classroom there are a relatively high number of externally oriented students. Further research is warranted on the relationship of locus of control and learning disabled and behaviorally disordered handicapping conditions in students.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Donald Schmits


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Date Original


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