Evaluating K-12 Pre-Service Educators' Understanding of Internalizing Behaviors
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Children with internalizing disorders, specifically anxiety and depression, are at an increased risk for poor social and academic performance in school. Students spend a majority of their time at school, highlighting the need for educators to be knowledgeable about and properly trained in identifying and supporting children with mental health problems. The current study assessed pre-service educators' ability to identify internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children. In addition, the study examined differences in knowledge among groups of pre-service educators studying general education, special education, and communication sciences and disorders (i.e., speech language pathology) from a mid-sized public university in the Midwest. Pre-service educators completed an anonymous online survey that included 84 questions designed to measure their ability to distinguish between internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children. The typical educator correctly identified 72 of 84 symptoms as internalizing or externalizing. Pre-service educator year in school was positively associated with percent correct, r=.19, 95% CI [.03, .34],p =.023. Pre-service educator differences in major, experience with different age groups of children, and previous exposure to internalizing or externalizing symptoms through pre-service training did not predict percent correct. In general, these results suggest pre-service educators from this university distinguish well between internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
Child mental health services--United States
Depression in children--Diagnosis
Anxiety in children--Diagnosis
Behavioral assessment of children