Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Rafael Javier


Teachers are key players in recognizing mental health difficulties in their students and subsequently facilitating the referral to intervention process. However, the absence of a systematized approach leaves lingering doubt regarding accurate identification, rate of referral, and intervening factors, requiring a need to explore them further. Furthermore, to date, there is limited research examining teacher ability to recognize behavioral manifestations of trauma in their students. The current study surveyed primary and secondary teachers (n=54) across the United States. An anonymous survey presented a series of vignettes depicting behavioral representations of various childhood disorders. Teachers were asked to make a series of judgements about the behavior. The survey also included questions related to teachers’ knowledge of and experience with psychopathology. A series of rank correlations were performed to explore the intervening factors in teacher diagnostic accuracy and subsequent likelihood to refer. Ostensibly, teachers are able to accurately identify a range of childhood disorders, although ratings for other disorders become spuriously inflated in the presence of specific problems and gender effects. Degree of concern for the behavior influenced rate of referral, and level of tolerability for the behavior influenced concern. The strength of this relationship was stronger in females exhibiting externalizing behaviors. Understanding the circumstances that diminish teachers’ accuracy in identifying at-risk behaviors and the factors implicated in referral may help ensure a timely and appropriate referral, and help improve student mental health outcomes.

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Psychology Commons