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International Journal of Special Education 


The purpose of this case study is to the students’ background information or educational history that will guide the teacher to conduct assessment or evaluations on the student’s performance in class, interaction with friends and family in order to generate intervention plans or modifications to improve learning behavior and achieve academic performance. Study of student functional behaviors in classroom activities is important for teachers so that they can develop accommodations or modifications to a student with special needs so as to achieve the desired outcomes in student academic performance and consequently the teacher honing their skills and teaching experience.

 Student background information

In a small high school with a student population of three hundred students, a comprehensive approach has been adopted to educate Kelly a young girl who has a disability. She suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), thirteen years of age and attending the local high school, located in an urban community where she is currently in the 9th grade class. Kelly has been attending to the school for the last two previous years. Before she had relocated to this neighborhood school, she had been attending a special segregated school which accommodates students’ similar disabilities. Kelly’s entry to the school involved a lot of enthusiasm from both teachers and parent. The school personnel, a professional expert and the mother were involved in several meetings to discuss factors that would be crucial in monitoring the development of Kelly’s academic performance. Especially, the teacher who was going to be involved directly with Kelly and others, who were interested to help Kelly develop or had dealt with such a case prior, were also involved to give advice on the smooth facilitation of Kelly’s learning.

 Personal teacher reflection

The high school staffs were willing and open to various suggestions from numerous people, and especially Kelly’s mother who gave the relative information and details in order to understand Kelly’s case. As a teacher, I found that Kelly has a well known willingness in trying out new things and sometimes sense of humor. In the new setting, I will need to monitor and assess her performance through various tools while considering her special needs. On going support on a regular basis will be provided by a professional expert for Kelly’s case within the school facilities. The opportunity for her to develop friendships in this new setting will be exciting for her and everyone in the classroom and the school community. For Kelly’s successful integration in the learning process, planning has to be done where her community and school life has to be factored in learning development. The needs of the school regarding her situation and also assessing her needs and interests will be vital for successful and conducive learning environment. The exceptional needs of Kelly with ADHD will be evaluated given the characteristics of this disability through inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Some of these characteristics will one way or another affect the mode of instruction for Kelly and her overall learning progress.

 The attention disorder may give her hard time and difficulties in concentrating in class discussion, sustaining or focusing attention. Unrelated thoughts may cloud her thinking and analyzing capacity to new learning or concept. She may give more attention to favorite activities which will be needed to be controlled and mentoring her focus on other areas or subjects. I will also monitor and assist her in organizing, planning and completing the various learning tasks that may prove difficult for her. The aspect of monitoring and assessing such a student has various stressors for the parent, peers and the teacher as well. I will involve Kelly’s mother in discussing her progress in school and also at home. The professional expert will also be involved in order to give guidelines or appropriate intervention plans that will work with Kelly. Peer association and behavior characteristics will be observed in order to maximize the learning attitude and positive development for Kelly as she interacts with other students.

 Kelly’s Case study

Kelly enjoys communicating with friends on her phone especially when classes break and also shopping. She does not like to read a lot of information on particular topics or areas but likes to do more on music and arts. In areas like mathematics and religion, she experiences difficulties and usually struggles to accomplish the assignments on tasks assigned in these particular topics. Her concentration in this area of learning wanes quickly and generally appears fidgety and restless during instruction in class sessions. This lack of concentration has continued to widen her gap in learning for these subjects in as much she puts hard work to bridge for the gap. 


The observation took place during math and reading instructions where the teacher analyzed the different characteristics, participation and behaviors in relation to the topics being taught. The observation techniques would aid to assess Kelly’s problems in class that involves impulsivity, inattention or hyperactivity. The observation technique BOSS, that is, Behavioral Observation of Students in Schools, was employed by the teacher to conduct academic engagement occurrences and direct observations. The observation also included passive and active time engagement of the case study for occurrences exhibited in off task behaviors during reading and math instruction where she was observed dung regular scheduled class instructions (Stewart, 1992). The observation period lasted over three hours with intervals of fifteen minutes. The data on frequency of passive and active engagement was evaluated and collected using momentary time sampling procedure at the start of each observation interval. A partial interval recording time plan was used to code off task behaviors in the target student at onset of interval observation period. Peer comparison data was also analyzed compared to other students without ADHD that provided the typical levels portrayed in engagement time by these other students in the same class with the target student. Students were selected at random for peer comparisons and also gender to assess the different characteristics and behaviors while in class.

 The percentages for active and passive time were calculated in relation to the tasks the students were given in the class. This also included off task behavior percentages were also calculated for peer comparisons. Moreover, the rates of academic engagement in the span of attention and participation were also inclusive in data collection and analysis. The summary, findings and interpretation of this data collected indicates that a student with ADHD exhibits higher prevalent rates for off task behaviors in comparison to peers without ADHD in the same age. They spend more time in inattentive or disruptive behaviors that cause interference to their ability to complete and attend to academic tasks presented in classroom instruction. There is correlation between academic achievement and a student’s rate in academic engagement, where the higher the rate the better the chances of success and vice versa. So it is imperative to develop effective instructional activities and strategies from the findings in the study, so that students with ADHD like Kelly can have increased opportunities to respond actively to academic material (Fiore, 1993). The teacher can use strategies in peer-mediated activities like class wide peer tutoring or Numbered Heads Together to increase academic engagement rates among students and especially like the case of Kelly in diverse settings such as resource rooms, general education classrooms or self contained rooms. As observation was the primary technique for collecting data in identifying problems and information on academic engagement behaviors, can be used to inform educational planning and instruction for students having ADHD.

 Functional behavior analysis

This behavior analysis is important and requisite component for assessing student behaviors in school and classroom activities. Functional behavior analysis is an effective support plan that can be used particularly in situations that need disciplining. The interaction of the students’ environment that constitutes community, school and home is important because it influences study behavior and patterns while engaging in academics. The case of ADHD students requires more monitoring and assessment for effective instruction and overall performance of the student in academic accomplishments. ADHD affects school performance because students may exhibit aggressive behavior towards other students as they suffer from the core symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. This affects the daily rigors in school activities as they become more challenging. Impulsivity can make ADHD students do actions without thinking example hitting a classmate when frustrated, or wait their turn when playing a game (Lerner, 1995). They also constantly fail in demonstrating or understand rules to follow and complete various tasks assigned to them. Such students’ are also prone to poor academic performances and frequent classroom disruptions which increase their susceptibility for suspensions and expulsions.

  Difficulty in maintaining attention affects them academically where they miss important details for assignments and also socially where communication with other people may result to frustrations. Hyperactivity can be expressed in physical or verbal disruptions during classroom instructions. Interactions at home with siblings and parents is also crucial for the ADHD student, to enable them develop critical skills of interaction with other people. Parents should play an important role of guiding the student with clearly laying down accepted or desired behaviors that will also mold the student’s behavior in respect to the school and the general community environment. Positive results will be witnessed when stakeholders, that is, the parent and the teacher collaborate in the student’s education problems. Communication between school and home will provide a major structure to help maintain consistency in the student’s performance, assess their disability and education needs. This will also help develop behavior modification plans and academic strategies that will effectively reinforce their performance and coordination of assignments.

 Assessment evaluation

In the attempt to understand Kelly’s needs in respect that she suffers from ADHD, observation and assessment were used to evaluate her response to instruction and specific areas or subjects in the curricular content. She does not like reading much and is constantly frustrated in concentrating on literature. The assessment tools administered include the Interest, Attitude, and Motivation Survey (IAMS), in which the student answers questions that are focused on their interests and the attitude in reading. In the survey, Kelly responded that she did not enjoy the reading. The second tool employed was the Burke Reading Interview where the assessment aims at providing the student with self awareness and knowledge in reading and instruction attention. The assessment indicated that she did not have good word attach competency or decode unknown words (Hundhammer, 2002). However, her evaluation on favorite topics like arts and music she scored very high. These tools effectively demonstrated that Kelly needed more foundational skills in topics like reading and mathematics in consideration with other non ADHD students in her class.

 Observing and interviewing her is an excellent way of the teacher developing more awareness of management and instructional procedures that would help in the classroom activities by developing more sensitive and effective strategies to meet Kelly’s needs. Teamwork is the best means to accomplish learning by ADHD students. It will help develop skills that are crucial for life long learning. Students can experience learning from each other irrespective of their status and offer students the opportunity to be involved in their own studies. Learners will be more motivated when they realize they are teaching each other and simultaneously develop more academic engagement as they share ideas and take responsibilities. It will also give the teacher an opportunity to observe student's engagement during lessons or lack of involvement and consequently develop intervention action plans. Assessment of the students can also be conducted by observing interactions with authority figures and peers in work setting in the formal testing of these tools. Evaluating the ability to attend to details, organize and plan is also essential to assess the performance and coordinating aspects in interaction and academic accomplishments.


In this case study, students like Kelly who suffer from ADHD, has indicated that they have difficulties in performing academically because of the disorder. Inattention to details is the main cause of low rates of academic performances and low grades. Hyperactivity can cause them not to follow rules and consequently find themselves with the susceptibility of suspensions or expulsions because of aggressiveness. They also perform well on activities that interest them. Without careful monitoring, assessment and guidance, such students face long term negative consequences that can be potentially devastating through adulthood. It is important for teachers having ADHD students in their classes to more strategic approaches to methods of instruction which are also sensitive in order to involve such students with classroom activities and hence improved academic engagement. General community, school and home environment support and interactions are important for the academic and social growth and development of ADHD students.  


Fiore, T. A., Becker, E. A., & Nero, R. C. (1993). Educational interventions for students with attention deficit disorder.  Exceptional Children.

Hundhammer, B., & McLaughlin, T. F. (2002).  Preschoolers who exhibit ADHD and related behaviors.   International Journal of Special Education. 

Lerner, J. W., Lowenthal, B., & Lerner, S. R.  (1995). Attention deficit disorders:  Assessment and teaching.  Pacific Grove, CA:  Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.

Stewart, K. S., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1992).  Self-recording:  Effects for reducing off-task behavior with a high school student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Child & Family Behavior Therapy.

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