From the British Psychological Society conference this week

11th January 2008 at 00:00
How to spot ADHD

Teachers regularly mistake run-of-the-mill attention-seekers for pupils with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to educational psychologist Nigel Mellor. He said in Bournemouth that some symptoms were common to both, making it difficult to identify ADHD. But attention-seekers generally relate well to older and younger people, and have language skills. ADHD sufferers do not.

Talk and learn

Young children work harder when their teachers talk a lot during lessons. Three educational psychologists observed more than 3,500 primary pupils and found that teachers who use a greater number of specific instructions and give regular verbal feedback tended to have harder-working classes. In particular, teachers who used a lot of positive comments about work and behaviour achieved better results.

Warm welcome helps

Schools that emphasise the importance of relationships are more likely to produce high-achieving pupils than those which focus on academic achievement alone. Carmel Rodgers, an educational psychologist, found that children thrive in welcoming environments. They also benefit from being listened to by staff and from having their problems addressed seriously. As a result, they are more likely to be well-behaved, receptive to learning and academically successful. Ms Rodgers said: "Children must feel happy in the school environment. Students who are anxious, angry or depressed don't learn."

Psych yourself up

Language teachers should use the principles of psychology to pass on knowledge to pupils, says Jonathan Solity, of University College London. They should study the psychology of language acquisition, just as literacy teachers look at the psychology of reading and writing. They should examine the relative advantages of didactic and participatory classroom approaches.

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