DISRUPTIVE children who shout out answers in class often learn quicker than their quieter schoolmates, according to research published today.
Durham University experts who analysed test results across more than 500 English schools found that, among children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), those who shouted out answers scored better results than their peers who remained quiet.
Louder youngsters were about nine months ahead of quieter classmates in reading and maths, researchers from Durham’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring discovered. The experts say their findings raise questions about how best to teach youngsters with ADHD.
Professor Peter Tymms, a renowned education expert and the report’s lead author, said: “Managing and responding to pupils’ different needs and abilities within a class is a challenge for teachers.
“We’re not suggesting that classrooms become free-for-all shouting matches but if this positive learning relationship can be harnessed, it could help teachers and learners.”
Researchers analysed primary school teachers’ ratings for 12,251 four and five-year-olds at the end of their first year of school, taken from PIPS (Performance Indicators in Primary Schools).
Under PIPS, teachers are asked to rate pupils’ behaviour with reference to blurting out answers, awaiting a turn and interrupting others.
Researchers found inattention was strongly linked to under-achieving but, among children with similar levels of inattention, the more impulsive pupils achieved higher.
Prof Tymms said: “Children with ADHD symptoms who get excited and shout out answers in class seem to be cognitively engaged and, as a result, learn more.
“Perhaps those children also benefit from receiving additional feedback and attention from their teacher.”
Dr Christine Merrell, who is also from Durham University and co-authored the study, added: “Although it may seem disruptive, blurting out answers clearly helps these pupils to learn.
“We need to look more closely at this behaviour and how the interaction can be managed in the classroom.”
The research, titled ADHD and academic attainment: Is there an advantage in impulsivity?, is published in the December 2011 issue of the journal Learning and Individual Differences.
ADHD is the UK’s most common behavioural disorder, affecting up to nine per cent of school children. Its symptoms include a short attention span, restlessness, being easily distracted and fidgeting.