Preferential Seating for College Students with Adhd: Is It an Effective Accommodation?
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Given that adjusting student seating is a frequent intervention recommended for many students with ADHD, one would expect solid empirical evidence to support this recommendation. However, the available literature is not clear on whether it is the seating location in the classroom, seating location at the beginning of the semester, or some other factor that is related to student success. This dissertation addresses the relationship among attention variables, scholastic attitudes, and classroom seating choice as defined by distance from the center of the front row. In study one, students in an introductory psychology class were administered the CAARS-S:L rating scale and the ADHD behavior checklist, along with the Learning and Study Skills Inventory (LASSI), and a demographic questionnaire which included self-report of ADHD diagnosis and any medications taken at the beginning of the semester. Students were allowed to choose their own seats at the beginning of the semester and were required to occupy those seats for the rest of the semester. Correlations among grades, scale scores, diagnosis, attendance, and seating distance were performed at the end of the semester. 350 students participated in this part of the study in two classes. 43 individuals self-disclosed a diagnosis of ADHD. Small negative correlations were obtained for distance and grade; however, these were surpassed by the correlation between number of absences and grade. Correlations for grade and distance were more significant for ADHD participants. Attention variables did not correlate with distance. Scholastic attitudes of time management and use of support materials were negatively correlated with distance. In study two, participants were given the same instruments as described above and then exposed to a classroom lecture on an obscure psychiatric disorder. After a 20 minute break, participants were asked to take a quiz to determine their retention of the information. This was done three times, with three lectures on equivalent but different disorders. Individuals took part in three conditions, near, middle, and far distance and the order in which they are exposed to these conditions was randomized using a latin square technique. Seventy-six students completed the experiment. Four of these individuals had a previous diagnosis of ADHD and one gave responses on the CAARS consistent with a possible diagnosis of ADHD. The results show a non-significant trend towards better performance on quizzes the closer participants sat to the front. These results generally support the notion of using preferential seating as an accommodation for college students with ADHD as part of a part of a larger accommodation package.