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An investigation of the characteristics of children screened at -risk for emotional disturbance

Alexandra Lynn Torkelson-Trout, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Longitudinal studies assessing children with emotional disturbance (ED) demonstrate that the social and academic outcomes for this population are poor at best. Given the strong evidence that suggests problem behaviors presented early in the child's academic career often persist throughout her life, researchers have sought to assess the effects of early intervention programs on the prevention of lifelong academic and social deficits. However, inconsistencies in the efficacy of early intervention efforts have led researchers to ask, what programs work best for which populations? The purpose of this dissertation was to evaluate the characteristics of kindergarten and first grade children school system identified as at-risk for ED. Three research questions were addressed: (a) what are the developmental, familial, academic, and social/emotional characteristics of kindergarten and first grade children school system identified as at-risk for ED? (b) do identifiable patterns or clusters of characteristics exist in kindergarten and first grade children school system identified as at-risk for ED? and (c) do clusters of young children school system identified as at-risk for ED differ on demographic, familial, and developmental characteristics? Results revealed that when compared to statistics on nationally representative samples, the children presented higher developmental and parent/caregiver risks. Academically, the children were rated low on measures of school competence. On social/emotional ratings, the children demonstrated elevated levels of problem behaviors and decreased levels of social skill competence. Cluster analysis procedures using family, academic, and social/emotional data defined five distinct profiles of children: Group 1: Parent nominated, characterized by elevated levels of parent reported problem behaviors; Group 2: Academic achievers, characterized by superior academic skills and elevated problem behaviors; Group 3: Elevated risks, characterized by increased risks across the measures of child strengths, family type, academic functioning and competence, and problem behaviors; Group 4: False positives, characterized by no distinct areas of risk; and finally Group 5: Clinical, characterized by significantly elevated risks across all measures. The groups were further distinguished by different patterns of descriptive, familial, and developmental characteristics. Limitations, directions for future research, and implications of these findings for screening, program design, and teacher training are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Education, Special

Recommended Citation

Torkelson-Trout, Alexandra Lynn, "An investigation of the characteristics of children screened at -risk for emotional disturbance" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3098176.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3098176

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