Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Master's Thesis Award - Third Place.

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Open Access Thesis


Student teachers--Attitudes; Children with mental disabilities--Education--Public opinion; Children with mental disabilities--Services for--Public opinion;


Current research suggests that Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) is a distinct attentional disorder from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that is characterized by a hypoactive, sluggish behavior pattern (Barkley, 2014). Further, unlike ADHD, SCT represents a more passive form of inattention that does not overly disrupt classroom learning goals. Thus children with SCT may be ‘falling through the cracks’ in schools. If children with SCT are going unrecognized in the classroom, they are likely not getting referred for treatment and additional educational services. SCT is related to many internalizing, academic, and social difficulties (Becker & Langberg, 2013, 2014) and early identification and intervention is crucial to maximize the child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to bring attention to an understudied topic and to identify whether children with SCT are going unrecognized in the classroom. Specifically, this project examined pre-service teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of SCT. Undergraduate education majors read vignettes describing three fictitious boys presenting with symptoms of SCT, a common externalizing disorder (ADHD), and a common internalizing disorder (Social Anxiety Disorder; SA) and rated each of the three vignettes in terms of their concern for the boy described. Results were analyzed using a series of repeated measures ANOVAs and logistic and linear regressions. Pre-service teachers viewed all three sets of symptoms as concerning, but viewed the ADHD behaviors as the most problematic. These results are promising, as they suggest that pre-service teachers are concerned about both hyperactive behavioral problems in childhood (i.e., ADHD) and non-hyperactive behavioral problems (i.e., SCT and SA). However, pre-service teachers indicated they would be the most likely to refer the child with SA to a school psychologist. These results highlight the need to better educate pre-service teachers about childhood psychopathology to ensure that all children experiencing mental health problems are receiving the necessary services to succeed in school. This is especially important for less common disorders as well as newer symptom clusters, such as SCT. Implications for how best to identify SCT and future directions are discussed.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2016 Award

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lefler, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 76)



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