Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Attention--Testing; Learning disabilities;


The present study involved using an information processing approach for the purpose of understanding and remediating attention problems in the learning disabled students. Specifically, the intent . of the present study was to assess the process of selective attention as measured through Hagen's (1967) central-incidental paradigm.

The present study compared performance of learning disabled and normal students while using either a verbal rehearsal strategy (Dawson, Hallahan, Reeve, & Ball, 1980) or no rehearsal strategy on Hagen's (1967) task of selective attention.

Fifty Iowa public school students, 24 LD and 26 normals, from fifth through ninth grade, participated in the study. LD students for this study were teacher-nominated using a four-point criterion describing problem behaviors of attention. Furthermore, the LD and normal students had to meet an average IQ criterion. Hagen's (1967) selective attention task was administered individually to each student either using a strategy of verbal rehearsal (Dawson et al., 1980) or no rehearsal strategy.

Scores on central recall, incidental recall, selective attention efficiency were analyzed using t-tests. The individual serial recall positions and grouped serial recall positions were analyzed using a two-way analysis of variance.

The results of the study indicated statistically significant findings for central recall. Specifically, learning disabled students using a verbal rehearsal strategy demonstrated higher central recall - scores than learning disabled students using no rehearsal strategy. Furthermore, normal students had greater central recall under a nonrehearsal condition than learning disabled students under a nonrehearsal condition. There were no statistically significant findings on incidental recall or selective attention efficiency. The findings of some individual serial recall positions and grouped serial recall positions demonstrated statistical significance. Specifically, rehearsal improved performance at the middle and recency serial recall positions for LD students while decreasing performance at the primacy positions. Further, normal students performed better at the primacy and recency serial recall positions than the LD students. The rehearsal strategy hindered performance for the normal students at the primacy positions and helped performance at the recency positions.

The major conclusions of the present study were as follows: 1. Verbal rehearsal was an effective strategy to remediate attention problems in learning disabled students as indicated by the major measure of central recall on Hagen's selective attention task. 2. Normal students during standard administration of Hagen's selective attention task recalled more central information when compared to learning disabled students. 3. Normal students performed better than learning disabled students at both the primacy and recency positions on Hagen's selective attention task. 4. Both learning disabled and normal students improved performance at the recency positions while using a verbal rehearsal strategy on Hagen's selective attention task.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Barry J. Wilson


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to scholarworks@uni.edu and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (89 pages)



File Format