Anna Whitman

Topic 1 How does early exposure to experiences that produce persistent fear and anxiety have consequences to performance in school?

Who?- Elementary School Students (ages 5-9)
What?- Levels of fear and anxiety
Why?- I am interested in how much of an impact anxiety can make in the educational development of a child and if it can be reversed through different interventions.

Topic 2- How can schools incorporate screening systems (by teacher recommendation and student survey) for children at risk for social, emotional, behavioral, and communication needs and use that information to target specific interventions for students?

Who? Elementary School Students (ages 5-9)
What? Negative social, emotional, behavioral, and communication behaviors
Why? I would like to investigate whether it is possible for schools to detect students that may need extra support.

Article for Critique

Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement: The Indirect Role of Parental Expectations and the Home Environment. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(2), 294-304. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.19.2.294

Research Statement

For my research proposal, I will be comparing teacher mentalhealth screenings and child emotional self-assessments and their effectiveness in accurately identifying children with emotional or behavioral issues.

Abidin, R. R., & Robinson, L. L. (2002). Stress, biases, or professionalism: What drives teachers’ referral judgments of students with challenging behaviors? Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 10, 204–212. doi:10.1177/10634266020100 040201

Abidin and Robinson investigated the different factors that contribute to teacher perception of students and their likelihood to make behavioral referrals. They sought to discover if gender or race demographics, level of SES, or academic performance would influence the referral judgments that were not justified by actual observed behavioral problems. Prior research has found that the level of individual teacher stress could play a significant role in which students they refer. In the present study, ninety k-5 students made up the participant sample. The selected teachers were directed to rate each students behavior and their likelihood of referring them due to emotional or behavioral problems. The findings showed that there were no differences between the number of referrals made between students of different genders, SES, or race. However, students with more disruptive behavioral issues were referred more than students that were found to be showing internalizing symptoms that did not interfere with the classroom environment.

This article helps me gain insight into the potential subjective factors that go into the teacher referral practice. As I will be doing my own investigation of the differences in scores of students of different races and genders on teacher and student self-report behavior screeners, my study will build on the potential biases that teachers have towards their students.  

Chafouleas, S. M., Kilgus, S. P., & Wallach, N. (2010). Ethical Dilemmas in School-Based Behavioral Screening. Assessment for Effective Intervention,35(4), 245-252. doi:10.1177/1534508410379002

In this review article, the authors discuss the possible ethical issues surrounding the implementation of psychological screening programs in schools. The screening of students for behavior and emotional difficulties could contribute to the negative stigma surrounding mental health on identified students that parents may not want for their children. The argument that schools are not the place to be identifying childhood mental health issues has been raised. Family privacy must be respected, and parent permission needs to be granted before screening takes place. The inability to get permission from an entire student body could potentially negate the benefits of universal screening, in that all the students would not be screened equally. The research suggests that schools effectively communicate the benefits of such screening in increasing academic performance and emotional wellbeing in students. One of the other ethical considerations raised was a misidentification. Screening tools can lead to false negatives and false positives that could mean the right students are not going to get the help they need.

This article helps inform my proposal to use screeners on child participants by providing information on the potential drawbacks of such measures. My study will use multiple measures in addition to screeners to assess students’ mental health, limiting some of the possibility of incorrectly identifying students.

Deighton, J., Croudace, T., Fonagy, P., Brown, J., Patalay, P., & Wolpert, M. (2014). Measuring mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children and adolescents to inform practice and policy: A review of child self-report measures. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health,8(1), 14. doi:10.1186/1753-2000-8-14

There are many measures of assessing children’s mental health available to aid in the diagnosis of children in need of psychological health services. Recommendations for the increased use of child self-report measures have been proposed so that children feel as though their problems are being addressed and they can make decisions on the future of their mental health. The authors discuss the review of past literature that finds that self-reports of children may not be as reliable as external reports due to their early stage of language development and ability to accurately describe their emotional states or underreporting the negative symptoms they may have already self-identified.

The present study sought to identify child-self report measures and assess them for their reliability and validity. In their method, the authors describe the team of researchers that included a review coordinator, experts in child mental health development, educational psychology experts, and an economist. Eleven measures passed the established criteria for further review. The selected measures were then compared by what psychological issues they are seeking to identify, the availability of versions for child self-reports/teacher report/parent report, recommended age of child taking the measure, reliability, and validity of the measures.

This article relates to my study as it discusses the many types of assessments that can be used in gaining mental health information from students. The description of each assessment and the benefits of each table in the results section will guide my decision of which measure to use in my proposal.

Dowdy, E., Doane, K., Eklund, K., & Dever, B. V. (2011). A Comparison of Teacher Nomination and Screening to Identify Behavioral and Emotional Risk Within a Sample of Underrepresented Students. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,21(2), 127-137. doi:10.1177/1063426611417627

The researchers want to investigate the teacher referral system due to the potential cons of such a process, such as underreporting of specific emotional or behavioral issues in children due the possible preference for referring students that exhibit more external behavioral problems. This preference for detecting more apparent behavioral symptoms may cause neglect in referrals for students that have more subtle symptoms. Referral disparities may also be impacted by gender as teachers may be more likely to view male students as exhibiting more severe behavioral problems than females. These downsides to teacher nomination have prompted the investigation of universal screening as an approach that may lead to more accurate identification, as all students are required to complete the process.

In the present study, 849 students and 42 teachers, 48.5% female and 51.5% male, from an elementary and middle schools participated in this study. The students’ ages ranged from 5 years 11 months to 14 years 4 months. The ethnic majority of the school was Hispanic (73.8%) and Black (25.6%). The Behavior Assessment for Children BESS teacher form was the screener for behavioral and emotional-risk students. Office discipline referrals, suspensions, grades, and teacher nominations were collected for all of the participants. The researchers found that the screener identified more at-risk students than the other behavioral and emotional ratings, which supported their hypothesis that structured-universal screening would lead to increased identification of students. However, they also found that more males than females were identified in all of the measures of identification, leading to the recommendation that more work needs to be conducted on gender biases in the referral process.

This article relates to my topic of differences in the identification of students for psychological services between teacher and student referrals in comparison to screeners. My study will work off of their finding that there are gender differences in teacher referrals and screeners.

Edelbrock, C., Costello, A. J., Dulcan, M. K., Kalas, R., & Conover, N. C. (1985). Age Differences in the Reliability of the Psychiatric Interview of the Child. Child Development,56(1), 265. doi:10.2307/1130193

This work describes how parent interviews have been crucial for the early detection of mental health issues in children but how an increased focus on utilizing the child as an essential source of diagnostic information has been present in the clinical psychology community. It has been found in prior studies that structured, over free-talking, interviews have been effective in yielding reliable behavioral data for children. The researchers used the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, a structured interview questionnaire in their study and administered the measure in their participant sample of 242 children and their parents. The findings suggest that interview scores of the participant’s parents were more reliable than children in reporting their symptoms. However, they also found that the reliability of the child’s report increased with age. Reliability scores were lowest for the 6-9-year-old participants and increased in the 10-13 and 14-18 samples. The reliability of the parent report was found to decrease with the age of the children, as the scores were most similar in the youngest sample. These findings would suggest that older children may be more reliable in providing their mental health information than parents.

This article informs the child self-report aspect of my proposal. Their finding of the ages that self-reports are most informative for will guide my decision of how old the participants of my study should be.

Eklund, K., Renshaw, T. L., Dowdy, E., Jimerson, S. R., Hart, S. R., Jones, C. N., & Earhart, J. (2009). Early Identification of Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Youth: Universal Screening versus Teacher-Referral Identification. The California School Psychologist,14(1), 89-95. doi:10.1007/bf03340954

The researchers of this study sought to compare the commonly used practice of teacher referrals and universal screening in their effectiveness in identifying children with emotional or behavioral issues. Teacher referral has its limitations in that some teachers may not feel that it is their job to act as mental health screeners. Or they provide identification at a delayed rate, only when the problems begin to interfere with classroom management. Universal screening may result in a decrease in identification delay but may also contribute to the problem of over-identifying students that may not require mental health services. In the presents study, 26 third-graders and 22 fourth-graders from two elementary schools served as participants. The small participant sample was representative of the broader demographics of the schools, with the ethnic majority identified as 73% Hispanic and the minority as white and other students. In addition, 68% of the students in these schools were identified as being of low SES. They used the measure of the BASC-2 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS), teacher referral forms, and report cards. In their procedure they describe the administration of the BESS measure at the beginning of the school year by the entire school body. The participant sample was then selected, and their school records and teacher referrals were collected. The findings showed that out of the 24 students identified as at-risk by the universal screening measure, less than half had been given teacher referrals.

This article will inform the teacher referral versal emotional and behavioral screener aspect of my proposal. Due to their finding that less than half of the students identified by the screener had been nominated for teacher referral, I will be adding a behavioral screener to act as a comparison for the teacher referrals. The literature review of this article discusses how over selection for mental health services may be more beneficial than underidentification, so I will include it in my study even if it is a flawed measure.

Girio-Herrera, E., Dvorsky, M. R., & Owens, J. S. (2015). Mental health screening in kindergarten youth: A multistudy examination of the concurrent and diagnostic validity of the Impairment Rating Scale. Psychological Assessment,27(1), 215-227. doi:10.1037/a0037787

Girio-Herrera, Dvorsky, and Owen’s goal was to investigate the effectiveness of the IRS screening tool as a measure for identifying kindergarten students that may need mental health services. The second part of their study served to measure the validity of the IRS score in comparison of the more widely used measure of the BESS. The participant sample included 568 5-year-old children, enrolled in kindergarten in elementary schools in the selected district. There was an almost equal gender distribution, and the sample was almost entirely white (95.1%). All of the sampled teachers were white and female. Parent demographic questionnaires, the BASC-2 (an assessment of child emotional and behavioral functioning), and the IRS (a measure of child behavior taken by parents and teachers) were used to collect study data. The study findings suggest that assessment scores of the teacher IRS have strong validity the parent IRS have low to moderate validity in determining at-risk children. The researchers suggest that school systems utilize the teacher IRS as it has shown to have utility as an accurate screening tool.

This study relates to my investigation of screening tools for student behavior and emotional problems, although I will not be using parent assessments as a tool for data collection as these researchers did. The results did provide insight into the difference in scoring multiple raters can have for the behavioral observations of the same students.

Kamphaus, R. W., Thorpe, J. S., Winsor, A. P., Kroncke, A. P., Dowdy, E. T., & Vandeventer, M. C. (2007). Development and Predictive Validity of a Teacher Screener for Child Behavioral and Emotional Problems at School. Educational and Psychological Measurement,67(2), 342-356. doi:10.1177/00131644070670021001

This study attempted to test the reliability of a teacher-student screener and to evaluate the validity of the screen in accurately detecting at-risk students in comparison with academic performance and documented conduct referrals, and two years or teacher evaluations of classroom behaviors. To accomplish that evaluation, two samples were used. The sampled group were 637 children participating in Project A.C.T. Early study during the 1999-2000 school year and a the same group with a two-year data set. The participants had equal gender distribution and half were African American, with Caucasian (29%) Hispanic (7%), and Asian American (2%) making up the rest of the sample. The participants, teachers were provided the  BASC TRS-C for children aged 6 to 11 years, which measures nine problem-behavior scales (Aggression, Conduct Problems, Hyperactivity, Anxiety, Depression, Somatization, Attention Problems, Learning Problems, and Atypicality) and four adaptive-skills scales (Adaptability, Leadership, Social Skills, and Study Skills). The screeners were found to have high validity with the other used behavioral measures. They also found that the screener did not result in an identification bias between the boy and girl students.

This study relates to my topic by investigating teacher screening measures. This work is one of the only articles that I reviewed for this topic that was longitudinal, which gives more information on how repeated behavioral screenings can provide more reliable diagnostic information for students.

Klimkeit, E., Graham, C., Lee, P., Morling, M., Russo, D., & Tonge, B. (2006). Children Should Be Seen and Heard. Journal of Attention Disorders,10(2), 181-191. doi:10.1177/1087054706289926

The authors of this work investigated if children have the ability to objectively report their behavior, even when they have externalizing behavioral disorders. The sampled participant included 57 boys and seven with a previous diagnosis of ADHD, recruited from a child and adolescent mental health service ADHD clinic. In this study, children with ADHD were assisted by the Self-Evaluation Scale for Children. Their behavioral scores were then compared to children without ADHD. The findings suggest that the Self-Evaluation Scale for Children was a reliable and valid measure. The participants with ADHD reported more impulsive behaviors, decreased self-perception ratings, and poor social skills than the participants with no ADHD diagnosis. The authors suggest that the self-reports of children may be a useful tool that is underused unnecessarily, as they are good sources of diagnostic information.

This article relates to the child self-report portion of my proposal. It reinforces my desire to investigate the reliability of child self-reports. I will be including child assessments in my study as these researchers found the children do have the ability to describe their emotional states accurately.  

Raines, T. C., Dever, B. V., Kamphaus, R. W., & Roach, A. T. (2012). Universal Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Risk: A Promising Method for Reducing Disproportionate Placement in Special Education. The Journal of Negro Education,81(3), 283. doi:10.7709/jnegroeducation.81.3.0283

Teacher referrals are the most commonly used tool for the identification of at-risk students. These referrals have been found to disproportionately select students of color for special education or emotional and behavioral health services. The authors of this work sought to conduct a review of teacher referral, student self-assessments, and universal screening practices to identify the measure that would limit the potential bias in the identification of African American students. It was found that teacher referrals often differ from the results found when using structured behavioral assessments. Teacher referrals are most often made for students that are exhibiting behavior that disruptive to the learning environment. As boys have been shown to exhibit higher rates of externalizing behaviors than girls, girls may also be neglected in the delivery of mental health services for more internalizing symptoms. In their investigation of self-reports, they found it was the best tool for measuring internalizing symptoms, as students were less likely to discuss those symptoms with teachers of parents. Universal screening was found to be the least likely to result in the over-selection of African American students as it is administered to all students, not just those selected due to past behavioral problems.

This article relates to my proposal by identifying the possible biases that could be playing a factor in the identification and referral of certain students for special services. I want to build on the findings that teacher referrals over-select African American students and if those increased numbers would be seen in child-self assessments.

Severson, H. H., Walker, H. M., Hope-Doolittle, J., Kratochwill, T. R., & Gresham, F. M. (2007). Proactive, early screening to detect behaviorally at-risk students: Issues, approaches, emerging innovations, and professional practices. Journal of School Psychology,45(2), 193-223. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2006.11.003

In this review paper, the authors found that universal screening is considered to be the preferred tool for identifying students with emotional and behavioral problems. They recommend that schools encourage the continued education of school psychologists and teachers on the screening procedures that will lead to increased support for students in need. The importance of early identification of mental health issues and the future academic and social success of students should be emphasized.

This article will help contribute to my proposal’s introduction in discussing the benefits of universal screening in comparison to teacher referrals.

Splett, J. W., Smith-Millman, M., Raborn, A., Brann, K. L., Flaspohler, P. D., & Maras, M. A. (2018). Student, teacher, and classroom predictors of between-teacher variance of students’ teacher-rated behavior. School Psychology Quarterly,33(3), 460-468. doi:10.1037/spq0000241

The researchers of this work were attempting to discover if scores on teacher ratings of student behavior were consistent between multiple different teacher ratings. This study had a large sample of participants at 1,241 students and 68 teachers performing the behavioral ratings. The students were recruited from several different schools in an urban school district that had a diverse student body. The teacher raters were 76% white and 89.7% female. The teachers took the Behavior Assessment System for Children (Second Edition) Behavioral and Emotional Screening System–Teacher Form and were asked to assess every student in their class. They found that ratings on the same student had a high variance between teachers.

This study relates to my topic on the use of teacher-student screeners. I will build on their findings of high variance between teacher scores and gather multiple behavioral reports on the same students to help eliminate some of the potential biases of individual teachers.

Walter, H. J., Gouze, K., & Lim, K. G. (2006). Teachers Beliefs About Mental Health Needs in Inner City Elementary Schools. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,45(1), 61-68. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000187243.17824.6c

Walter, Gouze, and Lim sought to gain insight of the beliefs inner city school teachers had about the mental health of their students. There participants were made up of 119 elementary school teachers in a large city. Teachers reported that they most often referred students that were exhibiting disruptive behavior. The teachers also reported that they felt uninformed on mental health issues in children. Recommendations were made by the authors that teachers be informed about of psychological health impacts student behavior and academic performance and be given support in creating behavioral plans for disruptive students.

This study ties into my study as it discusses the potential downsides of over-valuing teacher assessments, as some teachers are uninformed of student mental health and feel uncomfortable making assumption about children are feeling. I will build on this study’s findings by including child self-reports in my proposal.

Wrobel, N. H., & Lachar, D. (1998). Validity of self- and parent-report scales in screening students for behavioral and emotional problems in elementary school. Psychology in the Schools,35(1), 17-27. doi:10.1002/(sici)1520-6807(199801);2-r

Wrobel and Lachar sought to compare the scores between the child-report Classroom Screening Scale from the Personality Inventory for Youth, and the parent-report Adjustment Scale from the Personality Inventory for Children  to examine the validity of the assessment tools. The selected participants were 111 4th-6th grade students that were 90% White and with an even gender distribution. The results found that parent screeners identified more student than were identified by the child self report measures. The findings of the parent report scores found more external behavioral issues while the child self-reports should more indicators of internal emotional problems.

This study connects to the child self-report measure that I would like to use in my study. While I will not be using parent assessments, I think the discussion of the differences between the mental health perspectives of children and adults. I will be utilizing teacher assessments instead of parent measures in my study.

Young, E. L., Sabbah, H. Y., Young, B. J., Reiser, M. L., & Richardson, M. J. (2010). Gender Differences and Similarities in a Screening Process for Emotional and Behavioral Risks in Secondary Schools. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,18(4), 225-235. doi:10.1177/1063426609338858

This study sought to contribute to the limited amount of research that has been conducted on the gender differences in the emotional and behavioral screening process in school systems. Statistically, male students are more often referred and placed into special education programs. The researchers investigated the factors that could contribute to that increased selection. This work was longitudinal and spanned over three school years. There were 15,932 middle school aged participants. All the participants were given the Systematic Screening for Behavior Disorders (SSBD). This measure detected 1,065 students with scores putting them in the range of referral to specialized services. The results found that 77.4% of the nominations were made for male students. Male students rated higher on externalizing symptoms while female students were most often detected by internalizing symptoms.

This study relates to my study as both discuss the teacher referral system, and potentially how demographic factors like gender can contribute to the likelihood of students being nominated. I will build on this study by potentially using repeated behavioral screeners to get multiple data entries for the same participants.

Literature Review

This study will… compare teacher mental health screenings and child emotional self-assessments and their effectiveness in accurately identifying children with emotional or behavioral issues

Psychological Screening Programs for Children in Educational Settings
How they are currently being used
Pros and cons based on past research
Over identification vs. Under identification
Internalizing symptoms
Anxiety, depression, social withdrawal
Externalizing symptoms
overactivity, poor impulse control, noncompliance, and aggression

Types of Mental Health Screeners
-Reliability and validity
-Potential Bias- Teacher perception of students and their likelihood to make behavioral referrals
-gender, race, level of SES, academic performance
-individual teacher stress
-students exhibiting disruptive behavior over more studle mental health problems
-Is it the responsibility of teachers to act as mental health screeners
-felt uninformed on mental health issues in children
Child Self report
-Reliability and validity
-Age (Why middle adulthood?)
-language development
-accuracy of describing emotional states
-underreporting negative symptoms
-why are they an essential source of diagnostic information
-Which style of child self-assessments are more reliable- free-talking vs. structured

Symposium Reflection:
During the psychology poster session, How Perceptions of Intelligence and Failure Shape Self-Esteem was of particular interest to me due to our class recently covering the subject. This student investigated entity and incremental intelligence influence on self-esteem on participants from The College of Wooster and Northwestern University. Pre-tests, priming tests, intelligence tests, and self-esteem measures were used in the procedure. They found that the participant sample had high academic Contingent Self Worth and feedback had a large impact on the measure of self-esteem for this group. An interaction effect of primed and self-reported implicit theories of intelligence was found as reports of self-esteem differed between implicit theory groups. I would be interested to see a correlation between the intelligence variable on participant report of depression and anxiety, as the student mention in their discussion of future directions for their study.


At Symposium during a psychology lecture presentation, the researcher talked about predecisional distortion and how that plays a role in endorsement deals. They talked about detail first condition and an endorsement first condition between two basketball players and shoes to see how the conditions affected their preferences. There was a main effect of order, main effect of initial impulse, and main effect of preference over time. Also, they showed the interaction they found between preference over time and initial impulse.

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