A Randomized Trial of Two Promising Computer-Based Interventions for Students with Attention Difficulties

Abstract

Few studies have examined whether attention can be improved with training, even though attention difficulties adversely affect academic achievement. The present study was a randomized-controlled trial evaluating the impact of Computerized Attention Training (CAT) and Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on attention and academic performance in 77 inattentive first graders. Students receiving either intervention were more likely than controls to show a moderate decline in teacher rated attention problems in first grade. Students receiving CAI also showed gains in reading fluency and in teacher ratings of academic performance. Intervention effects for attention were absent by second grade largely because attention problems declined in all groups. However, post hoc analyses indicated potential longer-term benefits for children with 6 or more inattentive symptoms at baseline. Persistent attention problems were associated with poorer academic performance in multiple domains. Results provide initial evidence that CAT and CAI can improve children’s attention in the classroom - and support additional studies to determine whether more clinically significant benefits are attainable.

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Correspondence to David L. Rabiner.

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This study was supported by Grant R305H050036 from the Department of Education. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support and cooperation of the Durham Public Schools in completing this study.

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Rabiner, D.L., Murray, D.W., Skinner, A.T. et al. A Randomized Trial of Two Promising Computer-Based Interventions for Students with Attention Difficulties. J Abnorm Child Psychol 38, 131–142 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9353-x

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Keywords

  • Attention
  • ADHD
  • Academic achievement
  • Attention training
  • Computer-assisted instruction