Understanding teachers' perceptions of the motor difficulties of children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD)
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BACKGROUND: Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) are often identified by classroom teachers and the identification process relies heavily on teachers' perceptions. The literature would suggest that teachers' perceptions may be influenced by a child's gender, behaviour and the type of motor problem they demonstrate. To date, the influence of these factors on teachers' perceptions of children with DCD has not been empirically tested. AIM: This study investigated whether child gender, behaviour and type of motor problem influenced teachers' ratings of concern and importance of intervening for children with motor difficulties. SAMPLE: One hundred and forty-seven teachers of children from 6 to 9 years of age participated in this study. METHOD: Hypothetical case scenarios were developed that experimentally manipulated the factors of child gender (male/female), behaviour (disruptive/non-disruptive) and type of motor problem (fine motor/gross motor). Teachers were given two case scenarios of the same gender (that varied by behaviour) and rated: (a) their degree of concern about children's motor problems and (b) how important they thought it was for the child to receive intervention for that problem. RESULTS: The effect of child gender on teachers' perceptions depends upon the type of motor problem. While child behaviour had a marginal influence on teachers' perceptions, interestingly, teachers appeared to recognize motor problems only in the absence of disruptive behaviour. The type of motor problem demonstrated also influenced teachers' perceptions. CONCLUSION: This study provides preliminary insight into factors that influence teachers' perceptions of children with DCD with clear implications for the classroom identification of children with DCD.
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