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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


A review of the literature from an historical perspective on creativity is the focus of Chapter two. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is discussed, and concept mapping is reviewed.


The review of literature about creativity includes the following related content areas: Theoretical background the conceptions of creativity, definition of creativity, characteristics of creative individuals, creativity and development, creativity development and age-level, creativity and education, nurturing creativity in the classroom, objectives of creativity enhancement, methods for enhancing creativity, creativity thinking models, and benefits of creativity enhancement.


The investigation of creativity has occupied the attention of many researchers over the years. Creativity had long been considered a phenomenon that had mystical or magical qualities. It was looked on as a gift or talent reserved for a few exceptional persons, while the label "genius was often reserved for inventors. The quest to understand creativity began with the ancient Greek philosophers. The quest continues today, and more recently psychologists, educators and others have joined that enticing, perplexing effort. However, the field of creativity has long been a neglected topic in psychological and educational research. Daniels (1981) pointed out that studies of creativity were rare before 1950. The early inquiries about creativity, however, tended to largely focus on philosophical speculation and anecdotal reports of creative mental functioning. The Osborn's now famous brainstorming exercises in 1938 were probably the most eminent early explorations into the topic of creativity. Creativity was of interest to empirical researchers due partly to Galton's study of heredity genius. (Daniels, 1981).

During the 1950's much happened in the field of creativity research. In his 1950 parting address as president of the American Psychological Association (APA), J. P. Guilford pointed out at the annual meeting that year, only 186 out of 121,000 entries in Psychological Abstracts dealt with creativity. Guilford's presidential address introduced the study of creativity to experimental psychology. Torrance and others helped advance the field further, and during the 1950's and 1960's an impressive amount of research was generated on creativity. By 1956, the number of entries in Psychological Abstracts on creativity had doubled, and a number of educational programs were developed and used which had as their goal the fostering of creative thinking (Barron and Harrington, 1981; Guilford, 1950; Torrance, 1977)

Now, because of research and writing the phenomenon of creativity is construed differently by various of theorists. Treffinger (1986) noted that there is no single, widely accepted theory of creativity. Rather there are a large number of ideas that are considered theories of creativity. Some of these ideas will be reviewed here. Davis (1998) considers creativity as a lifestyle, a personality trait, a way of perceiving the world, a way of living, and a way of growing. Like Davis, Yamamoto (1967) asserted that creativeness in its most basic form is necessary for living and growing in a threatening, complex world. To Gutman (1967) creativity is an increase in the power of the self to interact with the world. Taking Gutman's position further, Mooney (1967) and Taylor (1975) proposed that creative behavior is an intent to establish an organization of self and environment in accordance with the experiential background of the individual. Gutman (1967) contend that creativity is not a linear process of perception, cognition, and response, but a spiraling series of transformations in the human system. Their point of view considers creative functioning as the manifestation of fluctuations in unstable, self-organizing local systems that reorganize into patterns of higher order thinking and coherence.

The central point of the self-actualization approach is that the creative person also is a self-actualized person a fully functioning, mentally healthy, forward-growing human being who is using his or her talents to become what he or she is capable of becoming (Maslow, 1954, 1968; Rogers, 1962). The central theme of the proponents of this approach contend that the emergence of a creative product is the result of certain personality characteristics in relation to environments. According to this approach, to be creative is to keep an intimate relationship with nature or others (Moustakas, 1967, p.35); to transform one's self out of the chaos world (May, 1975, p.144); to produce a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, or circumstances of his life on the other (Rogers, 1954, p.251); to come to pass of the fullest humanness or as the being of the person (Maslow, 1967, p.145).

Freud created a new, coherent theory called Psychoanalysis. Creativity was essential to Freud, both in his work and his personal life, yet his theory of creativity remains ambiguous. On the one hand, he concluded that art results from unconscious conflict becoming conscious through the creative process, but on the other hand, he admitted that psychoanalysis can not explain creativity. To Freud, creative productivity results from an unconscious conflict between the libido (sex instinct) and the superego (social conscience). Sexual energy is said to be rechanneled into acceptable forms like creative fantasies and products. Freud also noted that fantasy and creative thinking include a regression to more childlike modes of thought. In fact, to Freud creativity is a combining of and substitute for the free play of childhood (Eigen, 1983; Getzels and Jackson, 1962)

The Freudian view is a rather negative one-creativity is merely the outcome of an unconscious neurotic conflict. Unlike Freud, Kris (1952) asserted that creativity is in the service of the ego, not the id as Freud thought. Eigen (1983) suggests it is debatable whether Freud wrote a unified theory of creativity at all. Nevertheless, Freud's fertile thinking about the unconscious arousal of creativity stimulated efforts by such theoreticians as Jung.

Jung in 1966 (as stated in Solomon, 1985) postulated the collective unconscious, one that is common to all humanity. Both Freud and Jung placed the wellspring of creativity in the unconscious. However, Jung criticized Freud for his explanation of creativity as being due solely to the personal unconscious of the artist. Jung emphasized the collective unconscious is a universal storehouse of memories handed down from the past in the form of primordial images called archetypes (e. g., mother, wise old woman). Archetypes come in a variety of forms and may appear in dreams, drawings, or the imagination. The collective unconscious, never repressed, was a departure from the Freudian notion of the unconscious as repressed thoughts, feelings, and memories. According to Jung, the artist transforms material from the collective unconscious to produce an artistic creation.

There are many behavioristic views of creativity that focus upon different behavioristic analyses of creative thinking. Traditional learning theory emphasizes the reinforcement reward of correct responses and stimulus-stimulus associations. The approach is called behaviorism because the focus is on the visible behavior itself, rather than on the unseen mental events that control the behavior.

Skinner (1971) argued that we have no freedom since all of our behavior is controlled by those who dispense reinforcements and punishments. He adds that there is no such thing as creativity, freedom, or dignity.

Maltzman (1960) argued that we can increase original behavior simply by rewarding it. He reviewed his own research that showed that when original word associations were rewarded the frequency of original word associations increased. Another behavioristic view of creativity focuses on mental associations. Mental associations (for example, the word carrot might elicit rabbit) are assumed to be learned on a contiguity basis. Mednick and Andrews (1967) wrote that a highly creative person is one who possesses a large number of verbal and nonverbal mental associations that are available for recombination into creative ideas. A less creative person is one who can respond with just a few highly dominant mental associations.

The current theoretical trend, cognitive psychology, examines internal processes in learning, thinking, memory, and problem solving, unencumbered by a commitment to conditioning principles.

According to the Gestalt approach, creative thinking is the formation and alteration of Gestalts (mental patterns or forms) and not the mere associations or sum of the associations. Gestalt theorists (e.g., Wertheimer, 1982) argue that creativity is a much more complicated process than merely associating ideas in new and different ways; the whole of an idea always amounts to more than merely the sum of its parts. For example, greater paintings are made up of elements that are interrelated to the point that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (Dacey, 1989, p.91). According to this approach, the major task of creativity involves the ability to break up a problem into parts and then to reorganize them in new, meaningful ways.

Gestalts theorists argue that creativity stems from both the innate tendency of human beings toward clear, whole understanding of what happens in reality and generalized schemas from past experiences (Wertheimer, 1982). One's past experience provides a basis for perceiving problems, retrieving needed information, restructuring the Gestalt, and adding to the general schema. Moreover, Gestalt theorists argue that creativity proceeds in a sequence of stages, which is explicated in the widely acknowledged Wallas's (1926) four-stage model. The four stages - which will be detailed later - are: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

The potential theory established by Guilford is one of the most influential contemporary theories of creativity. The pivotal premise of this theory is that if one is equipped with a set of cognitive traits or potentials, which are hypothesized to be characteristics of creative persons, one is creative. Another assumption of this theory is that because of the appearance of different factors in different groups of people, creative abilities are not the same in different fields of creative endeavor. That is, inventors, writers, artists, and composers may have some same factors in common, but there is much room for variation in patterns of abilities (Guilford, 1950, p.451).

Although nonaptitudinal attributes for creativity (i.e., personality characteristics) are noted as necessary for creativity, Guilford (1984) said, the mental operation of divergent production is a key process in creative thinking (p.1). The mental operations - which will be detailed later - explicated as primary are: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. Guilford suggested that creative process occurs concurrently as an attendant feature of primary abilities.

Right-left brain theory of creativity relates to the special function of brain hemispheres. The concept of hemisphericity or laterality is the major theme proposed by brain theorists. By hemisphericity or laterality, the theorists refer to a mental phenomenon characterized by habitual activation of one or the other cerebral hemisphere regardless of the usual appropriateness of that hemisphere for task demands (Kats, 1983). Brain theorists (e.g., Bakan, 1969; Kinshbourne, 1972; Martindale et al., 1984) argue that the two qualities of creativity, originality and valuableness, occur in opposite sides of the brain. In other words, originality requires a dominant role of the right brain (divergent thinking) and valubleness involves the left brain (convergent thinking).

Moreover, this approach argues that during creative thinking, special emphasis is given to the right hemisphere because of superior creativity-related functions such as spatial perception, divergent thinking, synthetic thought, and imagistic and holistic processes (Katz, 1983; Reynolds and Torrance, 1978; Torrance, 1982). However, it is thought that both the right and left brain functions are eventually needed for maximizing creative processes relevant to creative output (Herrmann, 1981; Torrance and Rokenstein, 1987).

One might say that creativity is more a matter of values and personality than particular ways of deploying abilities, and more a matter of ways of deploying abilities than of having particular mental abilities. Of course, some repertoire of abilities is a necessary condition for creativity, but far from a sufficient condition (Sternberg and Williams, 1996).

Davis (1998) sees creativity as mysterious mental happenings. For him, much about creativity remains a mystery, although much is understood about creative people and the creative process. In other words, creativity sometimes either is inexplicable or just sort of happens. And when it happens in this way, it eludes human understanding.

To generalize, Philosophers have tackled the creativity puzzle by attempting to explain the creation of the world, exploring free will versus determination, and by describing the basic nature of creative experience. Psychologists concern themselves with hypothesizing in areas such as problem solving, cognitive functioning, and ways to nurture creative talent. Educator's interests lie in identifying creative talent, developing specialized teaching procedures to foster it, and experimenting to learn what role evaluation plays in encouraging or discouraging it. A unified theory of creativity will not be possible until psychologists, educators, and philosophers arrive at a common understanding.


As with other concepts in psychology and education, creativity is defined in many ways. Logically, any human activity may be looked at from four angles: the person who performs it, the thing which is done, the process of activity itself and the conditions which affect the above three divisions. According to Taylor (1964) and Torrance (1977) creative activity could be defined under the following headings:

1-  Creative Person.

2-  Creative Product.

3-  Creative Process.

4-  Environmental Influences.

Although it is difficult to look at subject such as creativity in a loose, detached way, the above presents an ideal format with which to become acquainted with it. Despite a somewhat divided approach, the unity of the object will be evident. The creative product is a production of the creative process, which is affected by creative abilities and other characteristics of a person. Similarly, the creative product is affected by environmental conditions, which also affect people and creative processes.

Creative Person:

In respect of the creative persons studies have investigated the characteristics and have presented many general forms of creative personality. Some researchers preferred to measure the creative personality by assessing motives, attitudes, tendencies and other characteristics which distinguished creative individuals (Barron, 1969 ; Barron and Harrington, 1981; MacKinnon, 1962). According to Taylor (1964) the common assumption is that all persons have some creative potential. This means an existence of individual differences in degree. On this basis, Lowenfeld (1960) distinguished between actual creativity and potential creativity. The first is that potential which is already developed and functioning, whereas the latter includes the total creative potential, both developed and undeveloped, within an individual. Taylor belief that all persons have some degree of potential to be creative in one or more ways (1964, p.8).

According to Barron, Torrance, and Welsh creativity can be studied by examining the common characteristics of persons who have achieved original, admirable outcomes. However, it is more difficult to measure the creativity of persons who have not produced anything noteable. Nevertheless, there is a broad agreement on some characteristics which will be discussed more fully in a later section. We could say here, in an attempt to paint a picture of the creative person, that he/she has the following general characteristics:

A - He/she is intelligent, although the relationship between creativity and intelligence is weak according to the findings of Guilford (1959) and some other studies. Although there must be a certain level of intelligence, the important matter is not the degree of intelligence, but the extent to which the creative person can use his/her intelligence in an effective way and can direct it towards aims which he/she wants to achieve. In addition, special abilities and skills related to the creative person's field were considered a necessary condition to achieve a high level of creativity.

B - The creative person has a certain level of psychological instability. Some psychologists relate creativity to mental health. At the same time, creative people have high and advanced mechanisms of self-control. Another widespread characteristic is a high level of feminine qualities. That means that a creative person, male or female, is tuned into his/her feelings and is intuitive. Also, the creative person tends to be open and ready to comprehend new experiences, because diversity and disorder entice him/her and excite his/her interest to arrange and order that which seems difficult. He/she does so, not only because he/she is open to new experiences, but also because of his/her nature and disposition. The creative person appears to have a clear preference for first-hand understanding and takes it seriously, even if it does not assume the common form. He/she enjoys, in other words, an ability to test the actual and the imaginary and attempts to bridge the gap between them. Apparently, on the other hand, the creative person's sensitivity and self-sufficiency make him/her self-absorbed rather than sociable.

C - The creative person does not differ from colleagues in general interests but he/she is less concerned with details or facts for their own sake. He/she tries to interpret them. He/she is the distinguished by mental flexibility, self-expression, and the ability to connect his/her ideas. Because of his/her interest in meanings and the result of details, the creative person is also interested in aesthetics, he/she is not concerned merely to solve a problem, but looks for a beautiful and elegant solution. He/she seeks beauty and magnificence as much as facts. However, although the creative person tends to be independent in thinking and behaviour, he/she does not tend to differ from others simply for difference's sake, so he/she is likely to be traditional in matters outside his/her creative field. (Barron, 1969; Barron and Welsh, 1952; Barron and Harrington, 1981; Hussain and Kumar, 1991; Torrance, 1962, 1977; Welsh, 1975; and Zavalishina, 1991).

Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that the existence of the above characteristics does not necessarily guarantee existence of creativity.

Creative Product:

Looking at the second element of creativity, the creative product, defining what is or is not a creative product is a difficult matter, because creative products of undisputed uniqueness and distinction are few. In addition, they often appear accidentally in the shape of discoveries or inventions, so that the environment may appear more responsible for them than the individual.

However, when creativity is defined as a product, it is embodied in an invention, a scientific theory, an improved product, a literary work, a new design, or the like. Thus, creativity as a product is defined as the contribution of original ideas, a different point of view, or a new way of looking at problems.

Nevertheless, even where environmental conditions are equal, large differences can be noticed in creative products. This mean creativity should be considered as a continuous or gradual ability which is found in all people in various levels, and not a unique ability which exists in some individuals but not in others. Apparently, the development of this concept helped in the construction of creative measures in the second half of the last century (Butcher, 1968; Freeman, et al., 1975; and Torrance, 1962, 1965).

That concept, however, does not prevent a creative product being defined in the light of a group of distinguishing characteristics. These latter are:

1- The creative product should be original, new or unprecedented to a certain degree. On the other hand, this originality and newness is relative. A product may be considered original and new by some people but not by others.

Boden (1994) suggested that there are two categories of creativity. The first one is psychological which he called (P-creativity), and the second is historical (H-creativity). He stated:

An idea is P-creative if the person in whose mind it arises could not have had it before; it does not matter how many times other people have already had the same idea. By contrast, an idea is H-creative if it is P-creative and no-one else has ever had it before. P. 5

By Boden's definition all H-creative ideas are P-creative too. In addition, originality and newness are not restricted to products only but may also apply to processes or methods. Two subjects may independently produce the same creative product in different ways, while on the other hand, two subjects could arrive at two different new products by following known methods.

Therefore, we can define this aspect of the relationship between creative product and creative process in the light of originality and newness, theoretically in three axes:

A-   An original product and an original process which could be considered a high level of creativity.

B-   An original product and a non-original process.

C-   A non-original product and an original process.

2- The product should be adapted to and adequate for the actual situation. In other words, it should solve a certain problem, suit the conditions of a certain case or achieve a certain goal.

3- It should be distinguished by a certain charm. The creative product does not merely present the solution to a problem, but should have a quality of beauty and create a sense of elation and satisfaction. Its simple aspect hides its complication and the depth of its compound aspect hides its difficult detail.

4- It should be possible to assess, search for and confirm the creative product. The latter must actually exist, not just be something talked about. In other words, an idea can not be considered a creative product unless it has form (Taylor, 1964 and Taylor and Williams, 1966).

Lastly, we have to mention the general individual differences creative products have from one field to another. Some fields have been thought at certain times to require more creativity and some less, but attitudes have not necessarily remained constant. In fact, creativity should be expected generally in all human activities and is not limited to certain of endeavour (Taylor, 1964).

Later, there is a trend towards consideration of real-world problem-finding as predictive of creativity. This line may give the creative product new importance, in contrast to the former focus on the creative processes. In this respect, Okuda et al. (1991) reported that the most significant findings in their investigation were that the real-world problem-solving elicited scores that were more reliable and predictive of creative extracurricular activities. In addition, the best predictor of creative ability was the measure that combined both problem-finding and real-world tasks.

Creative Process:

Respecting the third element of creativity, the creative process, is defined as the nature, abilities, levels, and stages of creativity. According to Vernon (1964), Galton is considered the first researcher to examine the subject in his empirical study of heredity and genius. He attempt to use empirical methods in cognitive research. For instance, he attempted to determine whether thinking takes the form of words, mental pictures or any other form. He asked a number of individuals to think of their breakfast table as it appears in the morning, and then asked them to what extent their mental pictures were clear. He found a wide variation, some individuals had extremely vivid pictures while others could not picture anything.

Creativity may consider the process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas or hypotheses, and communicating the results. Thus, this process may lead to any one of many kinds of products, verbal and nonverbal, concrete or formal. (Torrance, 1963).

Torrance (1962, 1977) considered problem solving as a kind of creative thinking to the extent that one or more of the following conditions are met:

1-  When thinking production is new and valuable.

2-  When thinking requires change or rejuction of previously accepted ideas.

3-  When thinking happens accidently.

4-  When thinking requires intensive stimulation, deep and persistence, and continues for a long time, whether it is sustained or broken.

5-  When the problem is obscure and unlimited such that formulation of the problem itself becomes a part of the task.

Guilford, is the best known researcher exploring the relationship between intelligence and creativity. He and his assistants made an important contribution to theories of intellectual ability. He highlighted the intellectual aspects of creativity with his model of the Structure of Intellect or Three-Way Dimentions Theory of Mind Map. He proposed that there are at least 120 unique intellectual abilities. Each ability is a combination of content, an operation, and a product. Content means: in which field does the mind work? Operation indicates: what does the mind do? Product explains: what does the mind use? Or how does mind act with content? Guilford divided content into four kinds:

1-    Figural content: this kind of content includes information which has concrete sensory characteristics. These figures or sensory perceptions may be optic, acoustic, tactile or sensori-motor.

2-    Symbolic content: this is a kind of abstract information, in which meaning does not play a big role, for example, letters, numbers or syllables.

3-    Semantic content: this is the understanding of meanings in the abstract. This kind of content is concerned with verbal meanings.

4-    Behavioural content: this kind of information is concerned with social perceptions. It relates to understanding of the behaviour of others, their feelings, attitudes, reactions and so on. Therefore, this part may be a content of social intelligence.

Operations include five groups of abilities:

1-         Cognitive thinking operations: these operations are concerned with knowing and understanding required information. This knowledge may take the form of discovering information by deduction, rediscovering it by induction or recognizing it by scientific methods. The abilities of these operations are concerned with fields such as mutilated words, speed closure, perceptual relations, shape's series and the like.

2-         Memory operations: this kind of operations is concerned with storing and remembering. The related abilities may distribute across different operations of memory, such as storage system, sensory memory, short memory or long term memory.

3-         Convergent thinking operations: these operations relate to production of correct or certain information limited previously in the light of pre-specified instructions. These operations imply many kinds of thinking and include many abilities relating, in general, to perception of correlation, classification, mathematics and syllogism.

4-         Evaluative thinking operations: this sort of operations is concerned with determination whether available information is suitable, correct or agrees with any given evaluation criterion. It includes many abilities concerned with speed of perception, comparison, associated words, syllogism, logical evaluation and the like.

5-         Divergent thinking operation: This kind of operations relates to production of various kinds of information without previous limitation. These operations include many kinds of abilities such as ideational fluency, associated fluency, social action, lines, titles, social problems and the like.

The third axis which is productions divided into six kinds:

1-   Units production: a unit is the simplest element into which information of content may be analysed. For example, the unit of a sentence is a word; of a word, a letter; of numbers, a number and so on. The unit, in general, represents the characteristics of the object. In addition, it is distinguished by comparative independence. For instance, letters have independent existence, but this existence is not integrated, except in words, whereby letters obtain meaning.

2-   Classes Production: a class in a group of related units with shared characteristics. Class or category is the basis of classification. For example, words may be classified into plural and singular, or verb, noun and particle. Therefore, each of them is a class. In addition, classes themselves, such as sentences in language or formulae in mathematics.

3-   Relations production: relations are connections which relate units to each other, for example, relations of similarity, opposition comparison and association. Like classes, relations may also exist between classes, systems and relations themselves, for instance, relations in sentences of a paragraph or the whole article and relations in mathematical equation.

4-   Systems production: a system is a construction consisting of a group of interrelated and interacting units which combine to form a whole, for example, a journal article, poem, or tune.

5-   Transformations production: transformations are changes of information, whether in formulation, structure, consistence, characteristics, meaning or use. Transformations in figural content, include, for example, a quantitative or qualitative change, in the semantic content, a change in meaning, in the behavioural content, a change in aptitudes or emotional situation.

6-   Implications production: this kind of product is the expectations of the subject in the light of available information. Implications, in essence, depend on connection. Although connection logically is close to the relation of reason and effect, here it is used differently to imply probability from various levels of doubt and certainty.

Guilford supposed that the action of each certain operation with certain content by a certain product leads to a certain ability. On this basis, the expected abilities from Guilford's three-way dimention of mind model are 4 contents x 5 operations x 6 products = 120 abilities. Nevertheless, this number may increase if we consider branches of those abilities. He separated those abilities into two categories: convergent thinking and divergent thinking. Convergent thinking is that which can be probed by traditional intelligence is that which can be probed by traditional intelligence tests. In other words, it can be defined as that thinking which requires one correct solution to one problem. Divergent thinking, in contrast, requires many correct solutions to the one problem and is measured by the richness and excellence of ideas. Creative abilities fall under the heading of divergent thinking or as Guilford considered, creative thinking in reality is divergent thinking. However, seemingly, the opposite is incorrect, divergent thinking is not necessarily creative thinking (Guilford, 1967).

Later, Guilford (1988) made some changes in his model. The previous content element figural was divided into visual and auditory. Thus, contents became five elements. The other change was in operations. Memory was subdivided into memory retention and memory recording. Therefore, operations became six instead of five. This modification is considered the final one made by Guilford, who died in 1987. On the other hand, Bachelor and Michael reanalyzed the original data base of Guilford and his coworkers and afforded a replication of four of Guilford's creativity factors. Two divergent productions constructs of ideational fluency and word fluency, one construct representing sensitivity to problems, and another identified as redefinition or flexibility of closure typically involving transformations (Bachelor and Michael, 1991).

According to Torrance Divergence-producing abilities may be classified into four basic abilities: fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration. Fluency means giving a stream of connected responses or divergent solutions to problems on the basis of a small amount of information. The fluency is assessed by the number of those responses.

Flexibility is the number of kinds of responses or divergent solutions to problems in cases where there is plenty of information. Flexibility is assessed by the number of categories into which those responses can be divided. In other words, fluency is assessed quantitatively and flexibility is assessed qualitatively.

Originality is the ability to produce something new, far, rare or unprecedented. Originality may be considered a standard of creation in general. Therefore, this ability may be assessed by the weight of originality which is defined by the degree of publicity or rarity of response among subject's answers. A widespread response is given a low rating, while a rare response is given a high rating and considered an original response.

Some researchers believed that there is some confusion effect between originality and fluency. Examinees who give more responses exhibit higher originality scores as a result of their fluency, not their originality. This confounding is revealed from many evidences:

1-  Intercorrelations among measures of fluency and originality have been extremely high.

2-  Factor-analytic studies have not shown separate fluency and originality factors.

3-  Multitrait-multimethod analysis have not supported the discriminant distinction between construct validity of fluency and originality. (Zarnegar et al., 1988)

Elaboration is considered one of the final steps in creative thinking. It means the ability to give more details about the object and view it from many angles. Elaboration is the ability to look in depth at an idea. In a sense, it may be seen as the opposite of fluency. It could be said that fluency is a horizontal ability and elaboration is a vertical ability. Therefore, this ability is measured quantitatively by the number of new details added to the original idea (Torrance, 1962, 1965).

In addition to these four main abilities, there are many subsidiary abilities, as explained by the model of Guilford, a general idea of which has been given above. This point will be focused with that aspect of the model which is concerned with creative abilities.

In this respect 23 actual abilities were discovered, out of 24 suggested ones, while one ability that concerned with divergent figural units, is an expected ability. In consideration that the main dimensions of Guilford's theory are: operations, productions, and contents; these abilities may be arranged on the basis of contents as follows:

1-     For figural content, there are 5 actual abilities and one expected ability. The actual abilities are: divergent figural units which include figural fluency, divergent figural classes including flexibility of optic classification, divergent figural systems including flexibility of optic shape systematizing, divergent figural transformations, including what is called adapted flexibility, and divergent figural implications, including fluency and elaboration of shape production.

2-     For symbolic content, there are 6 actual abilities: divergent symbolic units include verbal fluency, divergent symbolic classes include symbolic flexibility and elaboration, divergent symbolic relations include symbolic originality, divergent symbolic systems include symbolic originality and fluency, divergent symbolic transformations include symbolic originality, and divergent symbolic implications include symbolic fluency.

3-     For semantic content, there are 6 abilities: divergent semantic units which are called ideational fluency, divergent semantic classes, called semantic fluency, divergent semantic relations, called associated fluency, divergent semantic systems, called expressed fluency, divergent semantic transformations characterized by originality, and divergent semantic implications which are characterized by elaboration.

4-     For behavioural content, there are 6 abilities: divergent behavioural units involve social expression fluency, divergent behavioural classes involve behavioural flexibility, divergent behavioural relations involve social fluency and originality, divergent behavioural systems involve behavioural fluency and originality, divergent behavioural transformations involve verbal and figural originality and elaboration, and divergent behavioural implications involve fluency, originality and elaboration of social and personal problems (Guilford and Hoepfner, 1966; Hendricks, et al., 1969).

Taylor (1960, 1964) presented the idea of a division of creativity into levels, on the basis that creativity, in Taylor's opinion, dose not differ in kind, but in depth. Accordingly, creativity can be classified into five levels:

1-    Level of expressive creativity: this kind is considered the most basic and its existence is considered necessary to the appearance of all the other levels. It means spontaneous independent expression of ideas, regardless of originality, skills or type of product, as represented by the paintings of children.

2-    Level of productive creativity: this is a tendency towards limitation of spontaneous activity and towards control and improvement of performance in the light of specific rules. At this level, the individual tries to perfect his or her creative expression and avoid freedom in expression, preferring to conform to established rules.

3-    Level of inventive creativity: here, invention and discovery appear. Invention includes transfer from the previous controlled level toward the search for new ways of expression. It includes also flexibility of perception and treatment, with new and unusual relationships among elements of attitude or object. In this level, most inventions take place.

4-    Level of innovative creativity: this level only appears in a few people. It requires important change in the general bases and main principles of the field in art, science or literature, as for example, the modification of theories of the solar system presented by Copernicus. We can say here that the ability of fluency may have an active and wide effect, as does the ability of elaboration. This is because major change in those fields or others requires the ability to look at a problem from different angles and the ability to create, add or cancel elements, as appropriate.

5-    Level of emergent creativity: this requires creation or emanation of new theory with all its relations, e.g. Al-khuarizmi's development of Algebra, Aristotle's of Logical Science, Newton's theory of gravity and Picasso's new approach to art. This level requires effective ability to view a subject deeply and in detail. In other words, the ability of elaboration may be required more than other abilities, at this level.

Seemingly, Taylor here did not mean to ignore individual differences but to explain that his suggested levels are concerned with creative product or, it may be said, with creativity as a content, not with creativity as a group of abilities. It can be seen that his classification is based upon the standard of products more than the creative process itself, although the classification was put forward as based on the depth of creative process. Naturally, classification on the basis of creative product, as a separate entity which can be dealt with directly, is more exact and specific than dependence on creative process because mental progress is difficult to identify and define specifically (Taylor, 1975).

Creativity as an intellectual activity and at the same time a complex operation may be seen as occurring in stages. Wallas (1926) saw creativity as passing through many stages in a regular pattern. Those stages were known as the famous four stages of creative thinking:

1-   The stage of preparation: in this stage the creative person conducts some procedures to recognize a problem and attempts some solutions. He or she faced by many difficulties which cause him or her tension and suffering. Frequency of failure to reach a solution makes him or her confront two choices: to continue his or her search, or to stop. If his or her motivation is strong enough, he or she will continue, and in this case he or she will move to the second stage. Apparently, this stage is characterized by a state of trial-and-error in learning. Therefore, the experience of the subject is expected to play a great role in his or her actions at this stage.

2-   The stage of incubation: this means the existence of an idea about a solution, which, however, is not yet clear. The subject at this stage stops any apparent activity toward solution of the problem, but at the same time, his or her mind is engaged with it. Therefore, this stage is known also as the stage of fermentation of ideas. So this stage is distinguished by scattering of attention and lack of concentration upon one subject.

3-   The stage of illumination: here, the subject is more active. He or she tries to fix the elements which are most relevant to the problem. It seems that one here attempts to reformulate ideas, or to formulate new ones.

4-   The stage of verification: in this stage, the subject applies the new form or the new vision to the problem, to confirm it. Here also, some modification may occur to ideas reached in the previous stage.

The above stages do not necessarily occur regularly. In some situations, they may appear in a different order, or combined into tow or three stages. This will depend on the abilities of the subject, his or her perception of affairs, his or her own way of thinking and other factors related to his or her personal characteristics, attitude to learning and environmental influences (Taylor, 1964; and Wallas, 1926).

Environmental Influences:

The fourth element of creativity mentioned earlier is the matter of environmental influences. Creativity does not occur in a vacuum. On this basis, when creativity is viewed as a result of the interaction of environmental conditions and individual capacities, it may then be considered as a successful step into the unknown, getting off the main track, breaking out of a mold or rut, being open to experience and permitting one thing to lead to another recombining ideas or seeing new relationships among ideas. (Torrance and Goff, 1989)

This view implies that many factors exist which may support or retard creativity. These factors could be divided into three categories:

1-  Factors related to the social and cultural environment: Creativity, as interpreted by social and cultural anthropologists, is an original transaction between an organism and its environment, and for most human beings the environment is the culture in which they find themselves embedded (Fabun, 1968).

Torrance believes that the way creative abilities develop and function is strongly influenced by the manner in which the environment responds to a person's creative needs. In other words, the development of creativity may be related to continuities and discontinuities in the particular culture (Torrance, 1962).

Mar'i (1976) delineated eight assumptions concerning creativity in its societal and cultural contexts. The first assumption deals with the fact that society provides a framework or a number of fields into which the creativity of individuals can and should be channeled. These fields vary from one culture to another and from one historical period to another, and both traditional and modern societies maintain a framework for creative products. The framework offered by a modern society is wide and flexible and provides many avenues into which creative talents can be directed. The traditional society provides a very small and rigidly defined framework for the creativity of its members.

The second assumption is related to the way society sets up values and criteria by which creative products are judged and evaluated. Mar'i states four basic categories of criteria, two of which seem to belong to the essence of the product and the other two to its functions and uses. The two criteria of the creative product are: it most be both original and correct in order to be accepted. In terms of function, a product must be both useful and practical and possess artistic quality.

The third assumption asserts that the more complex the society is, the more complicated is the process of evaluating creative products. Mar'i divided the evaluation process into three domains: personal, introductory, and public. On the personal level, the creative person subjectively judges the completed product by whatever criteria are available to him or her and at the same time applicable to the product. On the introductory level, the completed product passes through a critical evaluation before it is introduced to the public for use and/or enjoyment. Finally, the completed product is made available to the public in the public phase of evaluation.

The fourth assumption focuses on the role of rewards in creativity. The assumption is that a society needs to provide sufficient rewards for the creative person to encourage the expression of and elaboration on creative ideas. The lack of rewards has an inhibiting effect on creativity.

A fifth assumption by Mar'i is associated with the fact that opportunities for creative expression are not equally distributed within a society. Mar'i asserts that a society often discriminates against certain of its subcultures or classes by encouraging members of only some subgroups to be creative producers. Women, for example, usually have fewer opportunities to express their creativity than do men. Persons of low social status are also at a disadvantage.

The sixth assumption argues that assurance of safety for both the individual and society is a necessary condition if creativity is to be encouraged, expressed, and recognized. When the safety of society and the individual's creativity complement each other, an optimal condition for creativity exists. However, when the individual's creativity and society's safety are in conflict, the creative product either is not created in the first place, or else it is not integrated into the exisiting culture.

Mar'i seventh assumption states that creativity is an extra mental activity. In other words, in both traditional and modern societies, creativity is not necessary for merely living at an elementary level. Creativity is considered to be at a high level - maybe the highest - in the self-actualization process that extends over the life-span. The notion of self-actualization implies a hierarchical order of needs ranging from the basic (biological) ones to the extra (or spiritual) ones.

The eighth and final assumption asserts that the type of socialization to which an individual has been exposed determines to a large extent a person's creative performance, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Socialization is the basic means of culturally influencing the individual.

In conclusion, the extent to which creativity is encouraged, and the subsequent variety of creative products that are developed depends on the extent to which culture permits the development of both freedom within the individual and freedom between the individual and his or her environment, and on the extent to which the culture encourages diversity and tolerates the seeming ambiguity that such diversity suggests.

2-  Factors related to the family life: The family plays a major role in engendering creativity in individuals. A nurtureant environment at home is one that gives a free reign and a ready response to the explorations of the child (Freeman et al., 1975). A culture stifles creativity to the extent that its parent-child relationships and child-rearing techniques result in the setting up of rigid boundaries in the inner personal regions. Techniques that result in excessive repression or guilt restrict freedom and interfere with the process of hypothesis formation (Stein, 1953).

MacKinnon (1975) ran a study of the personal biographies of highly creative adults. He found early internal experiences were common among them. In addition, they had experienced shame, wretchedness, or loneliness. They also had special abilities in their childhood which they enjoyed using, or they had encouragement from their parents who showed a strong interest in beautiful and intellectual objects. Moreover, those parents were effective and gave their children independence of thought.

Such experiences may be the reason for existence of some creative characteristics like introversion, rejection of repression and resistance. On the other hand, they may also shape tendencies towards independence, early maturity and resolution.

In contrast, some studies found that children belonging to families distinguished by love accompanied by strong relationships between parents and children have a great deal of originality, leadership, few friendships and little aggression towards self. Other studies found that mother's attitudes towards forgiveness, love and democracy related to significantly to creativity (Parsons, 1971).

3-  Factors related to the school: Schools are vital social institutions that significantly impact upon the development of creativity. School today affirms creation, development and improvement of creative thinking as main aims of the educational process. Torrance (1977) indicated that creativity may be rewarded and creative thinking thereby encouraged in more than one field.

Guilford (1959), Taylor and Barron (1963) mentioned the need to encourage student's intuitions to give them a chance to think divergently, to train a wide range of intellectual abilities and to increase motivation, to enhance the creative process. Therefore, we can say that the teacher is considered a major force in developing student's creativity.

On the other hand, this point conflicts with the findings of Getzels and Jackson (1962) study and that of Holland (1961) which affirmed that teachers prefer highly intelligent students, rather than highly creative students. So, for current school to achieve its aims of developing and improving creative thinking, it is necessary to look at the preparation of teachers, creating in them positive attitude to the creative characteristics of students and to creative learning.

More about education and creativity will be detailed in a later section, but now characteristics of creative individuals is the topic to which we turn next.


Personality is a major emphasis within the educational and psychological study of creativity. It is often subdivided into the study of motivation of creative behavior and the study of personality characteristics or life styles of creative individuals (Golann, 1963).

Barron listed the following characteristics of creative people: They are especially observant and value accurate observations; they are express half-truths by emphasizing the unusual in an observation; they see things as others do and as others do not; they are independent in their cognition; they are motivated to creative activity by self-preservation and also in the interests of human culture and its future; they are born with greater brain capacity; they are more vigorous, both physically and mentally; their universe is more complex; they have more contact with the world of the unconscious; they have broad and flexible awareness of themselves; and their self is strong enough to allow regression (Barron, 1969; Barron and Welsh, 1952).

Later descriptions of the creative person have yielded much the same listing of characteristics, put in different words and phrases. Kneller (1965) discussed nine traits of the creative persons: intelligence, awareness, fluency, flexibility, originality, skepticism, playfulness, self-confidence, and nonconformity. He noted that the creative person:

1-   Is above average in intelligence, but not necessarily at the top of the scale.

2-   Is usually more sensitive to the environment.

3-   Produces more ideas on a subject than the ordinary person, and tries a variety of approaches and often thinks up unusual uses for things.

4-   Produces unusual ideas, solves problems in unusual ways, and uses things or situations in an unusual manner.

5-   Elaborates on new and novel ideas or follows them up.

6-   Is more skeptical of accepted ideas and less suspicious of new ones, and is more persistent on tasks.

7-   Explores ideas for their own sake, toying with them to see where they will lead, and has a marked sense of humor.

8-   Has an inner confidence in the worth of his/her work.

9-   Is nonconformist but maintains a balance between group-centeredness and self-centeredness.

Wallach and Kogan (1965) used 10 measures of creativity based on assumptions derived from a learning theory approach on a sample of 151 children aged 10-11 years. They proposed four categories of characteristics, classified on the basis of their levels of creativity and intelligence:

1-  High creativity-low intelligence: their main characteristics are angry conflict with themselves and their school environment, feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, and they are able to blossom cognitively.

2-  Low creativity-high intelligence: they are addicted to the school achievement; they strive continually for academic excellence because they perceive academic failure as catastrophic.

3-  High creativity-high intelligence: they can exercise within themselves both control and freedom. They have both adultlike and childlike behaviours.

4-  Low creativity-low intelligence: they engage in various defensive manoeuvres sach as intensive social activity or passivity or psychosomatic symptoms.

Motivational and personality characteristics are reflected in the 12 personality characteristics of the creative individual gleaned by Davis from the existing literature on creativity. He listed the following characteristics of creative people: aware of their own creativeness; original; independent; risk taking; energetic; curious, sense of humor; attracted to complexity of novelty; artistic; open-minded; needs for privacy, alone time; and perceptive. See Davis (1998) for a detailed description of the 12 characteristics.

Finally, let us draw attention to that there are many listings of characteristics of the creative person, most of which are similar, and not all of these listings will apply to all creative persons owing to the existence of numerous forms of creativity and creative individuals.


Although Cognitive development is not identical for all and it is influenced by a large number of biological, social, and cultural factors; theories of cognitive development are put forward to explain the existence and development of various intellectual activities and characteristics. For example, creativity may depend on the development of imagination, abstraction, logical thinking or on the acquisition of particular concepts during adolescence.

In the early 1920s very little was known about children's intellective processes. In fact, to the extent that this topic was even considered, most researchers regarded the child as a little adult who perhaps knew less than an adult but reasoned in essentially the same way.

Piaget provided the most crucial information that we have about what children know, how they come to their knowledge, what they are likely to be able to learn, and what is completely beyond their grasp at various stages of development. (Gardner, 1982, P.7)

Piaget's theory is based on the key concepts of adaptation, assimilation, accommodation, stages, operations, and equilibration. These concepts, which provided the framework for Piaget's focus on the child's abilities to reason, to understand and to perceive different relationships around him/her, will be summarized in this section.

In the Piagetian view, cognitive development depends on an operation of adaptation among environmental circumstances and conditions on the one hand and the needs, motivations and aptitudes of the individual on the other. Adaptation includes two processes: assimilation, when the intellect deals with the common, and accommodation, when it is required to deal with something new.

Assimilation is the process of using or transforming the environment so that it can be placed in preexisting cognitive structure.

Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structure in order to accept something from the environment.

Accommodation is achieved by means of three operations: modification of former strategies, creation of new ones, and incorporation or organization of many operations at once.

These processes of adaptation lead to operations which form a web of relationships. Operations are distinguished by reversibility, which is the ability to think in the opposite direction, and integration, which confirms their association into a complete whole.

The opposition and integration of different sides of operations will lead, in turn, to case of equilibration, which refers to the internal situation of the individual, and conservation, which refers to external circumstances.

Conservation includes three aspects: qualitative identity which means perception that changes in features of an object do not change its identity; quantitative identity, which means knowing that changes a shape do not change the amount or mass; and quantitative equivalence, which means knowing that changes in shape of one of two equal objects do not change their equivalence.

On the basis of the concept of operations, Piaget (1953) identified four main stages in the development of children's cognitive structure:

1. Stage of Sensorimotor Thinking (birth to two years): the infant acquires simple skills and accommodations of a sensorimotor kind through trial and error learning. In addition, the infant intitially relies on innate reflexes, and by learning to modify them becomes more able to cope with his/her environment. During this period The infant is egocentric and when he/she learns to speak, he/she invents new types of behaviour and his/her thinking changes towards internal mental assimilations, but they are still related to special or personal situations. By the end of this period, the infant can represent objects and events mentally (sometimes called object permanence). For example, if a toy placed under a blanket, the infant who has achieved the object permanence phase knows that the toy is under the blanket and can actively seek it, but before the object permanence phase the infant behaves as if the toy had disappeared.

2. Stage of Preoperations (two to seven years): children continue to be egocentric in this stage, the child views and understands the world from his/her own perspective, so he/she finds it difficult to put himself/herself into the place of other people to take their viewpoints and to understand alternative views.

The child in the earlier period of this stage still thinks in a sensory way, but at the same time, absolute thinking begins to appear. For example, the child can perceive the relationship between three boxes of different sizes and identify which is the largest, but only rarely can children recognize the relationship if the question is formed in writing like this: if A is larger than B and B is larger than C, which is the largest of them? This is due, not only to the kind of thinking taking place, but also to the relationship between thinking and language.

Language not only allows us to communicate with one another, but also it provides a system of responses that facilitates our thinking. Dealing with language is an important characteristic of this stage. Dealing with language means using and understanding symbolic shapes: letters, words and numbers. This recognition and its relation with thinking and other mental operations presents many difficulties to the child, which is why we find that children often talk aloud when they are solving their problems. This behaviour indicates the incomplete assimilation of language and the inability to incorporate thought with language.

In this stage the ability of imagination develops and expresses itself in two aspects: Interest in telling and hearing stories, especially imaginative stories; and using imagination in playing, for example, playing with a stick as a horse and the like.

Development of concepts depends on the ability of classification. Although children of this stage are able to sort things according to shape, color, size or some other characteristics, they face some problems in recognizing the relationships between categories. For instance, if these children are given a group of various toy animals: cows, horses and cats, they can classify each kind separately, but if asked, Are there more cats or animals? they are confused. Children failure relates to their inability to perceive elements which are included in two categories at the same time. They can not visualize that a cat is both cat and animal at once. So, apparently, classification in this stage depends on one feature only, even where many considerations apply.

3. Stage of Concrete Operations (seven to eleven years): According to Sutherland (1992) the concept of operational thinking is the area in which most of Piaget's work took place. This stage includes the broad outlines of cognitive development, and so it is considered the most important stage. It should be noted that this stage is attained during the primary school period, with which this study is concerned, therefore it will be discussed in detailed.

Concrete operations are a collection of cognitive skills which enable the child to understand a number of relationships as he/she deals with objects. According to Bourne et al (1979), concrete operations are concerned with attributes of objects, organizing things into separate groupings on the basis of those attributes and dealing with them in a more systematic fashion. Nevertheless, the word concrete means that the child's thinking is still sensori-motor, though at a higher level. In other words, the child cannot think of relationships between objects in the abstract, but needs to deal with actual objects to understand those relationships. Ideas cannot be manipulated purely mentally until the child reaches the stage of formal operations.

The cognitive skills which develop in this stage involve four operations: reversibility, classification, seriation, and conservation.

A- The operation of reversibility: depends on the ability to understand alternation and replacement. Two kinds of reversibility have been distinguished. The first simple reversibility, the ability to understand that if there are two equal things and then one of them changes in shape, they are still equal because the changeable one can return to its original shape. The experiment of two equal balls of clay illustrates this idea. The child in this stage can understand that when one of the balls is shaped into a sausage, the two balls are still equal, because the sausage clay can be changed back. The second kind of reversibility is reciprocal reversibility. This means the ability to understand the equivalence in reversibility. Using the previous example of clay balls, the reciprocal reversibility is demonstrated when the child can perceive that although the sausage clay is longer than the ball of clay, it is also thinner, and this makes them the same amount.

B- The operation of classification: could be defined as the understanding of logical relations among things or objects. On this basis Bourne et al (1979) divided this ability into two kinds: understanding of relations among classes and relations among relations. Some researchers, such as Sutherland (1992), called the latter, transitivity. He described it as the ability to understand logical forms such as: A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, then A must be bigger than C. this is what is meant by understanding of relations among relations. Children in this stage can manipulate relations by such a level of logical thinking, but are still unable to manipulate them completely mentally. In other words, although children use in dealing with fact generally, they tend to solve their problems by trial and error. This may be because their ability to assimilate absolute perception is still in its early phase. In addition, lack of experience prevents children from using other active strategies such as thinking of many possible solutions and rejecting the non-useful ones.

The other type of classification, which is understanding of relations among classes, is named also class inclusion. This concrete operation could be sorted into two abilities: qualitative inclusion and quantitative inclusion. Qualitative inclusion may be defined as the ability of classification depending on two or more features. To assess this ability, the child is given a collection of five blue circles, two red squares and two blue squares and then a group of questions is asked: Are all the circles blue? Are all the blue ones circles? Are all the squares red? Are all the red ones squares? The correct answering of all these questions appears increasingly during this period, while the child in the pre-operation period can deal with classification by one feature only, such as color or shape.

Quantitative inclusion may be defined as the ability to deal with internalized subrelations to the quantity. To assess this ability, the child might be given a box containing ten wooden beads, seven of them red and three yellow, and then asked: Are there more wooden beads or red beads in the box? If you give me all the wooden beads, will there be any left in the box? It has been found also that the development of this ability increases greatly through this period.

C. The operation of seriation: this operation actually includes three abilities. The first one is the ability to arrange objects according to a given criterion, such as length or any other feature, for example, to arrange many boxes on the basis of length or size.

The second one is the ability to perceive the co-ordination simultaneously of the effect of two factors on one object. This ability makes the child more capable of viewing the object from many angles, and of learning about more complicated objects. For example, in this period the child can learn division in mathematics, which implies two other processes, multiplication and subtraction.

The third ability of this operation is the capacity of transition from reality to possibility, for example, when the child is given three objects: A, B, and C to arrange according to length, he/she can also guess the arrangement of new elements in the series. The pre-operational child can not do this, but the concrete operational child who is provided with an appropriate logical framework and the relevant concepts can perceive the possibility of extending the relationship of a series to new elements which have not yet been arranged. Reality and possibility are related to classification in that the existence of categories enables the child to add new elements to the grouping, and consequently to deal with the probable objects or hypothetical additions.

D. The operation of conservation: this operation depends on the general ability to distinguish the phase from the fact and changed characteristics from fixed ones. Bourne et al (1979) defined it as follows:

In general term, conservation refers to the fact that the individual understands that something remains the same (is conserved) even thought other things change (P 322).

The operation of conservation may be broken down into four elements: the conservation of quantitative identity, the conservation of quality, the conservation of number and the conservation of quantitative equivalence.

These four elements of conservation were measured by two classic piagetian experiments. In the first, a tall jar is three-quarters filled with water in front of the child. Then, the water is poured into a wide jar. The child asked: which of the two jars has more water, the tall jar or the wide one? A child of the concrete operation stage who can view two features or more at once can think that the second jar is not tall but, on the other hand, is wide. At the same time, he/she will notice that no water was left over, so he/she can give the correct answer. The child of the pre-operation period believes that the amount of water is greater when the water level is higher, because pre-operational children depend on sensory perception in their judgments, instead of using logic. In addition, they can not view many features at once; in other words, they can not view an object from many angles.

In the second experiment, the child is shown two balls of clay. The child agrees that both balls are equal in size and amount. Then, one of the balls is flattened into the shape of a sausage in front of the child, and he/she is asked do both shapes, the ball and sausage, have the same amount of clay? In this stage, the child can give the correct reply, while a child in the pre-operation stage believes that the sausage shaped clay is bigger. Quantitative identity conservation in this experiment is the child's perception that the volume of the sausage clay does not alter when the shape is changed. Basically, quantitative identity conservation is the recognition that the amount of an object is still the same, despite a change in its form.

The conservation of quality is the ability to understand that the identity of an object dose not alter although perceptually modified, or the ability to perceive the object as the same object even when some of its phases change. From the former experiments of Piaget, qualitative conservation is the perception that water, after being poured into a wide jar, is still the same, and the identity of the clay ball is still the same, even when it has been changed to a sausage shape.

The distinction between qualitative and quantitative conservation is that both of them refer to one object, but qualitative conservation refer to its identity and quantitative conservation refers especially to its volume or amount.

In this sense there is a great similarity between the concept of qualitative conservation and the formation of concepts which begin to take place in the pre-operation stage, in some phases. Both have in common concentration on main features and avoidance of non-essential characteristics. Bourne et al (1979) indicated this when they exemplified qualitative identity conservation by the infant who recognizes mother as mother even though she has changed her clothes; he/she conserving the concept of mother.

The third element of conservation is the conservation of number. This operation means that if there are equal numbers of objects in groups, they are still the same even if each group is arranged in a different way from the other. For example, six beads in a line is the same number as six beads closer together. Piaget found this kind of conservation was the first to be achieved, existing at about the age of 7 years. It was followed by the conservation of mass, volume and finally of density, which was attained at about the age of 13 years, in the formal stage.

Finally, the fourth element, that of quantitative equivalence conservation, means that the identity in quantity between two object is still held, even if one of them is transformed. This quantitative equivalence is demonstrated by the experiment with the clay balls, when the child can perceive that the equivalence in volume is maintained, although one ball is changed to be a sausage-shape.

The distinction, then, between quantitative equivalence conservation and quantitative identity conservation is that the quantitative equivalence conservation includes the comparison between two volumes, whereas quantitative identity conservation refers to the volume of one object.

4. Stage of Formal Operations (eleven plus years): This stage consists of an extension and integration of the concrete stage; the basic operations developed in the former stage, while they are specialized through this stage. In other words, development of intellectual operations was horizontal at the concrete stage and is vertical at the formal stage.

This stage is characterized by the capacity for abstract thought, without the necessity for the object of thinking to be present. Development of concepts, mental operations, mental and social abilities which help the adolescent to communicate with adults, is accompanied by the development of the ability of reflection, which enables the child to deal mentally with problems and logical propositions. In other words, he/she can pass beyond the world of objective reality to that of possibility.

According to Flavell (1971) the main distinction between the concrete and formal stages is that in the concrete stage, the child mostly deals with objects directly, and makes less use of abstraction, but a formal stage thinker can perceive all possibilities, limit them and perceive which of them may apply in fact.

In the Stage of Formal Operations the adolescent can understand formulae in physics, infinity in mathematics, allegories in literature and the concept of historical time in history. Moreover, development of intellectual abilities has a clear effect on personality or, in other words, intellectual development expresses itself in social behaviour. For example, the adolescent's intelligence enables him/her to be more aware of himself/herself as an individual and of his/her relationships with others.

Since Piaget proposed the theory of childhood cognitive development in 1969, there have been many criticisms of his theory. Most notably, psychologists debate whether children actually go through these four stages in the way that Piaget proposed, and further that not all children reach the formal operation stage (Bourne et al., 1979; Flavell, 1971, 1976; McShanc, 1991; Novak, 1977; Piaget, 1953, 1963; and Sutherland, 1992)

According to Ayman-Nolly (1999) the mechanisms of mental process is the place to begin looking for clues to Piaget's thoughts on creativity rather than the stages of cognitive development.

Piaget believed that learners construct knowledge when a learner encounters input from the environment, the learner's schemes or mental structure incorporate the experiences (assimilation). If and when newly assimilated information conflicts with previously formed mental structure, the result is called disequilibrium. Disequilibrium motivates the learner to seek equilibrium. Regaining equilibrium or cognitive harmony results in what Piaget called accommodation. Accommodation is in the development of new mental structures. This accord of thought with things was what Piaget called adaptation (Piaget, 1963, P.8). Thus, assimilation and accommodation represent the learner's adaptation to the environmental input. The learner must then organize the new or newly modified mental structure with previously existing mental structures. Organization is the accord of thought with itself (Piaget, 1963, P.8).

In other words, the main mechanisms for learning, assimilation and accommodation, play an important role in generating new ideas. Learning occurs through creating new knowledge or cognitive structure. That is, learning itself is a creative activity (Ayman-Nolly, 1999; Lubeck and Bidell, 1988).

Piaget (1981) asserts that creativity is possible only by using reflective abstraction. Reflective abstraction is the main mechanism of creativity. However, Piaget also viewed reflective abstraction as one of the mechanisms of learning and cognitive development. This lack of differentiation between learning and creativity provides an important insight into Piaget's assumption that everybody has the potential for creativity (Feldman, 1994). If everyone has the competence to construct new knowledge, it is reasonable to assume that everyone has at least the potential to produce something new. To support this assumption, Piaget states that every individual who does any work has some new ideas, however modest they maybe, and creates them in the course of his efforts (1981, P.222).

According to Feldman (1994) Piaget has been criticized because he fails to explain why only some individuals who can use reflective abstraction are creative. In the real world, not all adults produce a creative product. So, a problem with the Piagetian theory of creativity is that it does not tell us how to differentiate the creative from the non-creative (Feldman, 1994). If learners construct novel knowledge based on their own experiences, demonstrating that they all are creative, why are some individual acknowledged to be more creative than others? Piaget, himself, did not provide a clear answer. He said creativity is not a matter of precocity among those individuals who become very creative. The origin of creativity, to me, remains a mystery and it is not explicable (Piaget, 1981, P.222).

David Ausuablel's contribution to the cognitive approach to learning focused on the conceptual rather than the operative forms of knowledge. Ausubel's theory of structuring knowledge is based on several key concepts or processes: subsumption, progressive differentiation, superordinate learning, and integrative reconciliation. Subsumption is the process in which new information often is relatable to and subsumable under more general, more inclusive concepts (Novak and Gowin, 1984, P.97). Subsumption provides the anchorage for new material. Progressive differentiation is the principle that meaningfull learning is a continuous process wherein new concepts gain greater meaning as new relationships (propositional links) are acquired (Novak and Gowin, 1984, P.99). Superordinate learning refers to the process in which a more general new concepts subsumes previous subsumers (Novak, 1984). Previously learned concepts are subsumed and thus take on new meaning. Integrative reconciliation is the principle by which the learner recognizes new relationships (linkages) between related sets of concepts or propositions (Novak and Gowin, 1984, P.103). Integrative reconciliation tends to break the isolation of concepts as relationships are formed between various previously isolated concepts or ideas. Often new propositional linkages between concepts displace misconceptions because a misconception is often simply the failure to integrate a particular concept.

Ausubel sees creative behavior as a tendency to build hierarchical conceptual structures, and to make unique associations across concepts at the higher levels in the conceptual structure (Novak, 1977).

Lastly, the researcher has chosen to discuss the concept of creativity and cognitive development according to Piaget's theory because the present study is applied to a sample of primary schools, which contain students at the concrete operational stage (7-11 years). In addition, the concept mapping ability, the dependent variable of this study, depends on reference to Ausubel's Assimilation Theory, and the concept mapping performance is measured using Novak's Concept Maps technique, which was constructed on the basis of that theory.


The developmental stages for most of the abilities thought to be involved in creative thinking follow a pattern which is quite different from most other aspects of human growth. For this and other reasons it seems important that teachers, parents, and others be familiar with the age-level characteristics of creative thinking and the process by which these abilities develop. It is a will-known principle that teachers who know most about the age-level characteristics of the students whom they teach do a better job of teaching, establish better relationships with children, and enjoy their teaching more than do their less informed colleagues (Torrance, 1962)

In this section, the literature on age-level characteristics of creative development will be presented according to different educational levels: the preschool, elementary school, and high school periods.

Preschool Years:

As part of the Union College Character Research Project, Lingon (1957) attempted to establish age-level characteristics for the development of the imagination from birth to age eighteen. Torrance (1962) summarized those which apply to creative growth as follows:

Birth to age two: the child asks the names of things and tries to imitate sounds and movements. He/she sees the things which he/she creates when completed, not before. By the time he/she is two, he/she looks forward to special occurrences. He/she inquisitive, but self-expression depends on his/her own characteristics.

At this stage, creative growth can be supported in different ways, such as simple games, large building blocks, dolls, and by encouraging the child's desire to explore.

Ages two to four: at this age the child can treat with the environment through his/her direct experience. A sense of autonomy and confidence in his/her abilities begins to develop.

He/she needs opportunities for doing things, although it may be necessary to remove obstacles at times and comfort him/her when he/she is frustrated, otherwise fearful experiences may shake his/her confidence about new discoveries.

Ages four to six: according to Piaget, the period of intuitive thought lasts from age four to age seven. The child's thoughts are not yet freed from his/her perceptions. For example, when a child pours liquid from one bottle to another of a different shape, he/she believes that the shape of the second bottle determines the quantity of liquid poured into it (Piaget, 1953).

Ligon said that the typical child from four to almost seven has a vivid imagination. During this period, the child learns the skills of planning for the first time. He/she can relate events, thought sometimes without understanding the reason. He/she searches curiously for truth and right even in areas that may be embarrassing to adults. It is important that children's questions at this stage be rewarded by simple but direct and honest answers. Ligon stresses that the search for the truth should never be inhibited by shame or guilt. Parents should share their child's discovery of new thing and help him/her in his/her search for truth by exploring the meanings of words. At this age, he/she starts to become aware of the feelings of others and begins thinking how his/her actions will affect others. He/she is learning adult roles through pretended play. Creativity and confidence can be built up through arts, word games, and the like (Lingon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Elementary Years:

The literature concerning the stages of creative development during the elementary school years is fairly consistent, and amazingly so, considering the variety of measures that have been used and the variety of the samples studied (Torrance, 1962)

Using ink spots, Kirkpatrick (1960) reported that children in the first three grades are more imaginative than those in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.

Torrance (1962) arrived at a general pattern for the development curve of most of the creative-thinking abilities. From the curve we can see that these abilities reached their highest points in grades third, sixth, eleventh, and first year of high school. Growths of these abilities decreased in grades fourth, eighth, and twelfth.

Age six to eight: the child at this stage loves learning, if his/her school experiences are challenging and rewarding. His/her curiosity continues to develop, unless severely restricted by adults. Usually he/she can learn adult-imposed rules willingly, but he/she is apt to be too self-centered to create rules to protect someone else's rights. Some first grade teachers told Torrance that this is a mistaken notion. They find that their first graders can and do create rules to protect the rights of others and to guide their own behavior.

According to Ligon the creative imagination of the child between six and eight takes a turn toward realism. He/she can use his/her imagination to personify moral principles. Creativity can be developed and can appear through lessons, stories, discussions, and characters personifying moral principles (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Age eight to ten: according to Ligon the child between eight and ten is increasingly able to use a variety of skills in being creative and can discover ways for using his/her unique abilities creatively. He/she can undertake long projects which require sustained interest and effort. His/her ability to ask critical questions also increases and make his/her quest for truth more exciting and positive. His/her awareness of how he/she differs from others may cause him/her to worry about things he/she can not do. His/her feelings are frequently hurt by the imperfect judgments of what others think of him/her.

Lowry (as cited in Torrance 1962) reported that in work in developmental vision, nine-year-olds have been found to have the worst possible visual organization, when compared to other years. He described this group as very complacent. They rarely report visual symptoms (blurring, doubling, or eye watering), even thought the majority depart from ideal or vision. Furthermore, even thought the nine-year-old is falling apart visually according to Lowry, it does not seem to be the best time for vision training or rehabilitation. Children at this age will practice endlessly with little improvement. For these reasons therapy may be delayed six months to a year.

Ligon recommend that the eight-to-ten year-old be given every possible opportunity to express his/her originality and ingenuity. Adults should create occasions for him/her to use his/her skills and show him/her how his/her talents are useful. He/she needs opportunities to use what he/she learns, but he/she will need support when he/she fails and coaching when tasks are too difficult. According to Ligon this is a time to permit him/her to play at vocation realistically. He suggested that strengths be emphasized and that children be helped to realize that they can not be good at everything (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Ages ten to twelve: Children between ten and twelve tend to exploration and reading. Artistic aptitudes develop increasingly. The child shows an interest in detail and facility in memorizing.

The child at this stage is capable of deriving principles or generalizations or devising schemes to express sympathy, if challenged to do so. It is a great age for helping the child learns to persist in difficult tasks and to challenge him/her to learn things because they are difficult. Ligon suggested that ten-to-twelve be given opportunities to explore, to build, to make and to read, as well as opportunities to communicate to others about his/her experiences (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

High School Years:

Although developmental phenomena during the high school years have received little attention, most of the existing evidence is fairly consistent. Most investigators have reported a decline in imaginative functioning between the sixth and seventh grades and in some studies on into the eighth. There follows a period of fairly steady growth until about the end of the high school period, at which time there is a slight decline. (Torrance, 1962)

Ages twelve to fourteen: the twelve-to-fourteen year-old youth tends to be concerned with activities of the moment and rarely plans for the future. He/she tends to respond to adventure more readily than to reason. During this stage, the gifted youth produces remarkable performances in imaginative, artistic, musical, and mechanical fields. The youth at this age is quite fearful of rejection by his/her peers. Ligon cautioned that youth people at this stage should not be asked to be too different from their peers, but should be given skills for influencing the group and raising the level of the group. They also can be given practice in sensing the needs of others and in maintaining the respect of friends by using creative solutions (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Ages fourteen to sixteen: between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, much of the imaginative activity seems to be focused on a future career. The youth at this stage is able to understand that there are no absolute solutions to some problems, but he/she has not yet learned how to apply creatively the principles he/she has learned about right and wrong. He/she still worries about peer acceptance. However, with practice he/she can make his/her emotions creative.

According to Ligon the fourteen-to-sixteen year period is the time for helping the individual in evaluating his/her abilities realistically and how he/she can use them to achieve success in his/her career and advocations (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Ages sixteen to eighteen: the sixteen-to-eighteen year-old youth can think in abstracts. At this stage youths can harness their emotional energy creatively. Youth's problems challenge their creative abilities, and they need help in finding creative ways to assimilate their beliefs, and to practice their social skills. During this period, adults should share with youths as fellow learners but avoid competing with them. They also need to seek creative solutions when they find themselves in conflict with the sixteen-to-eighteen year-old (Ligon, 1957; Torrance, 1962).

Finally, Torrance presented some explanations for the declines which occurred at some grades, especially at fourth and seventh grades, and it may be useful to refer to them:

1.  These declines could be explained by pressures met at each new stage or each new transitional state in education, whereby a temporary decline in performance results from a period of shock.

2.   They may be explained by accompanying physiological changes which occur at certain ages, as around age nine, according to R. W. Lowry.

3.   According to the theory of Harry Sullivan (1953), the skills acquired during the transition period that usually occurs between third and fourth grade are accompanied with a group of social development aspects, causing pressures toward socialization. By this time, strong dependence upon consensual validation develops, and unusual ideas are ridiculed and condemned. This creates a tendency to reduce the freedom and excitement of communication, especially of original ideas. (Torrance, 1963, P. 75)

Torrance draw our attention to the possibility of identify prominent characteristics which are common among children of a particular age. However, in using age-level characteristics, it may be misleading to look for average behavior. It is important to look for the range of possible behaviors and to stimulate children toward their maximum possibilities. An understanding of age-level characteristics should help educators become aware of possible motivations for each child. (Torrance, 1962)


Creativity is an integral part of any understanding of human education. Half a century ago, Guilford (1950) asked in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association (APA) Why is there so little apparent correlation between education and creative productiveness (P.444).

Traditionally, regular education has been more successful at educating people to recite the facts of the past than to develop skills and concepts that will enable them to discover and use knowledge in the future (Marksberry, 1965). Taylor (1964) and Torrance (1965) suggested society requires people who can use facts, ideas, and materials of the past as a springboard for future developments. They further theorized that the task of education is to produce more minds that focus on the future than those that concentrate on the past.

Bloom (as cited in Torrance, 1965) projected that by the end of the 20th century, and perhaps even earlier, humanity will find itself a rapidly changing and unpredictable future. Torrance (1967) cautioned that it is virtually impossible to foresee or to envision the particular problems which will be paramount in the next few decades. One thing appears certain; the existing ways of viewing life and solving problems will not be sufficient for the future. It is imperative, therefore, that individuals be prepared to accept the creative challenge. He stated:

Thing are changing so rapidly that we can no longer survive, if we insist on thinking and living in static terms....We can not afford to return to the old ways.... We must accept the creative challenge.(P.330).

According to Torrance (1965), all human beings are innately creative, but some are able to express their creativity while others are not. Those not able to express their creativity may lack the opportunity or their environment may not facilitate creative growth.

Since schools have the power to influence the learner's thinking processes, it seems logical that the educational systems take the responsibility of preparing individuals to solve problems that are less predictable than usual. More emphasis has to be given to developing alternative abilities and skills that would be transferable from one situation to another as the need arises. Only by developing interdisciplinary thinking and new learning methods can future generations be equipped to solve the upcoming and unforeseen problems in innovative and creative ways (Torrance, 1965).

Educators are striving to establish coherent theory that will help teachers learn how to encourage children's creativity. The theories developed by Montessori, Steiner, and Neill are three such examples (Fleege, 1977).

Montessori's three major beliefs are subsumed in her theory. First, children need to be treated individually; second, the impulse to learn comes from inside; and third, if supplied with the proper conditions, children prefer to educate themselves. Her aim was to help each youngster develop within himself/herself the foundational habits, attitudes, skills, appreciations, and ideas which are essential for a lifetime of creative learning (Fleege, 1977, P. 3).

Steiner (as cited in Carlgren, 1976) theorized that the task of education is to encourage individual creativity during childhood so that creative energy will be carried into adulthood, and benefit society as a whole. In order to stimulate creativity in childhood, Steiner's educators must have insight and knowledge about life, the developmental process, and how development affects each child's unique capacities and needs.

The three golden rules must be embraced by the teacher's whole being, not held merely as a theory. They might be summarized thus to receive the child in gratitude from the world it comes from; to educate the child to love; to lead the child into the true freedom which belongs to man(Carlgren, 1976, P. 20).

Neill's theory stresses the idea that students reach their maximum creative potential when they are left alone to devise their own curriculum. Neill's basic philosophy was that if children are given love and complete approval to do anything they wish, they will grow up happy and mature. Education is the preparation for happiness which, according to Neill, is finding interest in something. He emphasized love, freedom, and happiness more directly than creativity. He asserted that the joy children experience in the process of creativity is equal to that which artists feel. In addition, he stated that joy comes in the process, not in the final product (Neill, 1968).

All educational theories sketched above advocate creativity as an essential ingredient in one's well-being and emphasize it in a unique way. What one theory highlights, another does not. For instance, Solomon (1985) stated that Steiner focused on the development aspects of childhood. Steiner claimed it is essential that teachers be knowledgeable about what each child is capable at each developmental stage. He emphasized the special interplay between teachers and students, made possibly by the teacher's insight into the way children think. According to Solomon (1985), Montessori, on the other hand, stressed the importance of treating children individually in a unique environment where they can do whatever they wish. Her aim was to instill in children the desire to acquire knowledge. Solomon (1985) further stated that Neill underscored the premise that student's freedom in choosing their own curriculum leads to maximized potential. With their varying opinions, all three educators have made significant contributions to the field of creativity (Solomon, 1985).

Children need knowledge and skills in a particular domain in order to be able to express their creative potential. Certain knowledge and skills are also necessary before creative potential can have meaning. Children can not develop high-level creative thinking skills without the basic knowledge and skills of a particular domain (Kats and Chard, 1989).

An example of the need for a knowledge base emerged in the search by Moran et al (1983) to measure creative potential in young children. The researchers were trying to adapt the classic uses tasks for preschool children. In this task, subjects are asked to name all the uses they can think of for a common item; the number of original (unusual) answers serves as one way to measure creativity. The researchers were puzzled when a group of preschool children could think of only a few uses for common objects such as a clothes hanger and a table knife. The research team realized that the reason for the limited response was that the children had little or no knowledge and skill in the use of clothes hangers and table knives. In fact, most preschool children are not allowed to use these items.

Knowledge and skills are a prerequisite for creativity. The curriculum is the teacher's choice of what knowledge and skills are important and developmentally appropriate for a particular group of children. Therefore, one role of school teachers is to provide an adequate base of knowledge and skills for children, while simultaneously providing an environment that facilitates creative thinking in the use of the knowledge and skills (Kats and Chard, 1989).


Sternberg and Williams (1996) suggested that creativity can be both caught and taught. They agreed that creativity can be learned and therefore, should be taught. Amabile (1989) stated that what is salient to nurturing creativity in the classroom is teaching children not only the skills of creativity, but the values needed to use creativity positively.

Teachers play central role in establishing a learning environment conducive to nurturing creative talent (Bassett, 2004; Saracho, 2002; Sternberg and Lubart, 1993; Sternberg and Williams, 1996). To build a creative learning environment, a teacher must applaud a student's creative endeavors, models risk taking, and teach with a sense of humor (Daniels, 1997). The classroom environment makes and shapes creativity. To foster creativity the instructor is receptive and flexible in developing student creativity (Daniels, 1997). Effective teachers leave room for ambiguity, choice, and flexibility while allowing students to make leaps and transfers of knowledge (Tomlinson, 1999). Davis and Rimm (1998) suggested creating a noncritical, nonevaluative, and receptive atmosphere where fresh and even wild ideas are safely proposed (P. 201). An effective teacher of creativity values a student's creative contribution to the learning process and considers it not as a threat, but as a catalyst for learning (Mildrun, 2000).

In contrast, rigid, controlling, and inflexible instructors inhibit creative expression and extinguish creative growth (Amabile, 1989). These creativity killers praise neatness and conformity and provide few options in process or product, preferring to teach students what to think not how to think. Educators concerned with slaying creativity limit creative thinking by following a test-driven curriculum that calls for one right answer (Hertzog, 1997, 1998). This phenomenon inhibits risk-taking in students encouraging students not to think (Adams, 1986; Amabile, 1989). Torrance stated many students are afraid to think (1962a, P. 13).

Amabile (1983) and Gardner (1983) both believe that all students have a creative spirit within, and that education often contributes to its demise.

Torrance (1962a) stated,

Teachers must recognize that everyone possesses to some degree the ability in being creative, that these abilities can be increased or decreased by the way children are treated, and that it is a legitimate function of the home and school to provide the experiences and guidance which will free children to develop and function fully (P. 13).

Daniels (1997) noted that students need an environment that provides instruction, opportunity, and freedom in developing creative talent.

The multifaceted role a teacher assumes in developing creativity in students has been well established (Amabile, 1989; Daniel, 1997; Davis and Rimm, 1998; Sternberg, 2000; Sternberg and Lubart 1993; Sternberg and Williams, 1996; Torrance, 1962a). A teacher focused on enhancing creative talent, develops personal relationships and understand students. The talent-nurturing teacher possesses a great sense of humor, values student ideas, and practices higher-level questioning techniques. A teacher of creative talent development focuses on the role of facilitator by encouraging student choice, realizing that the classroom is full of creative ideas, and that each student plays a valuable role in the teaching process (Sternberg, 2000). As a facilitator, the educator's role is to provide creativity instruction that allows students to heuristically gain insight through the acquisition of knowledge.


Because creativity is comprised of a number of skills and talents within both the cognitive and affective domains, Davis and Rimm (1998) suggested the following objectives for creativity training. The first objective is to raise creativity consciousness by teaching creative attitudes. They suggested that this is the single most important factor of teaching creativity enhancement. Through creativity training, students become consciously aware creativity. Students learn to value creative thinking and appreciate the unusual, farfetched, and zany. Students accept the novel and become risk-takers who are not afraid of failure. Teachers reward and encourage positive, creative thinking traits such as playfulness, risk-taking, curiosity, humor, aesthetics, and complexity (Davis and Rimm, 1998; Torrance and Goff, 1989).

The second objective of creativity training is to improve metacognitive understanding of creativity. Students begin to think about how to creatively analyze and develop an understanding of creative abilities and the creative process. Through raising creative consciousness and improving metacogonitive understanding of creativity, students enhance and strengthen creativity (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Through strengthening creative metacognition, students enhance creative abilities. Metacognition plays a vital role for both teacher and students (Gardner, 2000; Tomlinson, 1999).

A third objective for creativity training is to strengthen creative abilities through creative exercises (Davis and Rimm, 1998; Torrance and Goff, 1989). Creative exercise focus on increasing fluency, flexibility, elaboration and originality. Creative exercise should be implemented and practiced in the classroom. Torrance and Goff (1989) stressed the importance of providing time for creative encounter. Successful educators focus on strengthening creative abilities through exercise and guidance (Davis and Rimm, 1998; Torrance and Goff, 1989).

Creativity training encourage student involve in creative activities (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Practice and persistence are necessary ingredients of creativity. Creative activities take time to develop and implement. Students need time for incubation and reflection in the creative process that is not rushed (Torrance and Goff, 1989). Creative individuals should be provided time and space for quiet reflection and thinking (Daniels, 1997). Sternberg and Williams (1996) suggested encouraging creative collaboration as an activity for strengthening creativity.


Methods of teaching or developing creativity depend on student-teacher relationships on the one hand, and the nature and level of creativity of students on the other hand. In this respect, the behaviour movement has focused attention on responding to the student and the creation of more responsive environment, a characteristic deemed essential to the establishment of a creative student-teacher relationship (Torrance and Goff, 1989).

Many suggestions have been put forward as to how to develop creative operation, but the main ones as follows:

Attribute Listing:

This method was invented by Crawford in 1954. It starts with limitation and enumeration of the basic characteristics of an object and then the subject begins to make a series of changes to each characteristic, without any restriction of his/her freedom. When he/she has finished, the teacher or trainer evaluates his/her ideas in the light of specification, needs, requirements, insufficiency and the like.

This method depends on producing a number of thoughts, of which those are accepted which are imaginative. This technique encourages the ability of fluency and the separation between production of ideas and their evaluation gives full opportunity for ideas to emerge and proliferate without constraint.


This method was created by Osborn in 1957. It depends on posing a group of questions including a wide range of information. Each question requires a specific change in an object, thing or idea. The check-list of Osborn included a large number of questions related to new uses of things, change, adaptation, magnifying, minimizing, modification, re-arrangement, and relating.

It is clear that the pre-set questions limit the spontaneity of responses and thus impede the ability of fluency, which requires a great deal of freedom, on the other hand, seemingly, this method promotes and confirms flexibility, the ability to produce new ideas within existing categories.

Morphological Analysis:

This method was devised by Zwicky in 1957. This way of training creative thinking involves three steps:

A. Analyzing the problem into its main elements. For instance, if one is thinking of a new method of communication, this case may be analyzed into kinds of instruments of communication, their categories, ways of operating, administration, sources of necessary energy and the like.

B. Collecting those elements into general categories.

C. Relating those categories in all possible ways.

This method apparently depends on encouragement of the ability of flexibility. In addition, it combines characteristics of both attribute listing and the check-lists technique.

Forced Relationship:

This method depends on producing new thoughts by forming a relationship between two or more things or ideas, where no relationship in reality exists between them. In the majority of cases, the relationships are defined randomly. This method is used widely in art, especially in caricature. This method is concerned as much with the production of ideas, as with the type of product. In other words, it promotes the abilities both of fluency and of originality.


This technique was created by Osborn in 1963. Although constructed to use with groups, it may also be used with individuals. It is preferred to apply it in groups of six to twelve persons. The general strategies of this method are as follows:

A. Elimination of any evaluation or critique of responses while ideas are being generated, to eliminate discouragement and stimulate involvement.

B. Encouragement of richness and abundance of ideas and acceptance of all responses. Osborn supposed that responses which occur early are common and usual, while unique and creative responses tend to emerge later on.

C. Problems posed for solving in this way are usually broad problems such as how can improvements be made in school? or how could consumption of energy be saved?. Such objects stimulate numerous responses and allow ideas to be expressed freely.

This method encourages fluency to a great extent. Stein (1968) indicated that studies affirmed that this technique leads to the production of a lot of thoughts, but not necessarily the best ones. The purpose of a brainstorming session is to generate a long list of possible creative problem solving solutions (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Instructors hope that a long list will generate not only many ideas, but also the likelihood of finding that one good creative solution. Hitchhiking is the brainstorming characteristic that encourages students to actively participate. In hitchhiking, one student's idea inspires another, that student in turn springboards off the idea and generates a new, creative, and more inspiring solution (Davis, 1998).

Brainstorming is a fun and exciting tool that motivates students to learn and participate in creativity instruction. Brainstorming is easily infused into any curriculum area and incorporated into any classroom discussion. Class brainstorming sessions are easily established. The teacher begins by discussing the rules of brainstorming. Rules to brainstorming include accept Academic Answers, one's idea can be used as a springboard for another's, focus on the varied and unusual, and no criticism of other's answers. After a discussion of the rules, a problem is selected. A student volunteer scribes the ideas, listing each one on the board as classmates call out solutions and others freewheel and hitchhike unreservedly (Davis and Rimm, 1998).

Brainstorming is an effective creative thinking technique that strengthens creative attitudes and abilities (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Davis (1998) proposed the following reasons for the popularity of brainstorming: it is simple, appealing, fun, therapeutic, and it works.

A group study at Harvard in the 1950s found that brainstormings' rapid fire of ideas created a contagion of enthusiasm and developed a healthy competitive spirit (Adams, 1986).


This method was presented by Gordon in 1961, and is considered the most complex of the techniques. It is founded on a principle with two parts: Making the strange, familiar; and the familiar, strange. The first part includes an analytic process. The second part means perceiving a common object in a way in which it is not usually seen. The second part makes use of a variety of mechanisms based on analogy, particularly the following:

A. Personal analogy: this means imagining one's own feelings in an unusual situation, such as imagining oneself as a tin, crane or whatever is the object of discussion.

B. Direct analogy: this means comparing one thing with another thing or idea and so on. We can say it is a sort of metaphor, as for instance, likening a beautiful face to the moon or time to a sword. This kind of analogy helps in perceiving the familiar thing as strange and vice versa.

C. Symbolic analogy: this concerns linguistic imaginative objects. It depends on wide imagination, truthful imagery and beauty, such as is common in poetry and literature, e.g. comparing youth with spring, old age with autumn or life with a journey. This kind differs from the former, in that it is more deeper. It moves from comparing things, to comparing situations or attitudes, and making constructs of many elements.

D. Fantast: this mechanism is used to encourage the free and capricious use of imagination. This encouragement subsequently helps the abilities of fluency and originality, to give original and unique responses. By this technique, the subject attempts to break down the barriers between reality and visualization. He/she can even change elements of a thing or idea, freely.

Seemingly, this method encourages analogous mechanisms on the basis that these confirm the ability to perceive relationships between objects or thoughts in depth, and the ability to see new relationships or draw out a new thought. Application of this method is preferred in groups (although it may be applied individually) to avoid self-centered involvement with the idea, where this occurs, some subjects may too readily be convinced that their ideas are the best ones, and stop producing more ideas.

In this respect, Gordon analyzed psychological mechanisms of subjects into four situations as follows:

A. Swinging between involvement in the detail of a problem and separation from it. Apparently, this case exists when the subject tries to recognize a problem and attempts to balance the limitations of the problem and the extent of his abilities. Hence, this mechanism is related to the first stage of creative thinking, which is preparation. In that stage, the subject tries to use his/her experience to solve a problem, and by continuing in his/her attempts, he/she achieves an assessment of attitude by comparison with his/her own abilities.

B. Reflection: it is considered necessary to follow a train of thought through to its conclusion. This is considered a basic condition of some stages of creative thinking, especially the stage of preparation and stage of illumination, where the subject and his/her motivation are required to be more active towards solving the problem.

C. Adjournment: this means leaving an idea aside and going away from it, or stopping apparent responses in the course of solving a problem. Usually this happens when a person feels that the suggested solutions are not adequate. This mechanism is clearly related to the third creative stage, incubation, when the mind is active with an idea without apparent progress towards solution.

D. Independence: after a thought has been perceived in a general form, it becomes independent and advances towards its final development. In other words, after incorporation between the subject and idea through personal analogy, the thought becomes increasingly defined and the subject perceives it more and more as an independent entity, separate from himself.

These mechanisms afford some support to the earlier creative stages which have not received much attention and study.

Accordingly, the Synectics method follows these four steps:

A. Individuals are encouraged to associate with elements of the problem, in accordance with the first part of the general principle of the technique. Seemingly, and according to the behaviourist school, this step bridges the gap between problem and experience, in the sense that experience is familiarity with a thing in reality.

B. Individuals are advised to avoid the problem. This is according to the second part of the previous principle, i.e., making the familiar thing strange. This step gives a chance to view and study the problem from many sides and under many hypotheses.

C. Individuals are trained in the use of special instruments which help in solving problems. Generally, syllogist analogy is carried out in the three forms described earlier: personal, direct and symbolic analogy. Using syllogist analogy helps the perception of partial similarities and distinctions between two different phenomena, to find a suitable solution to the problem. For instance, to find a suitable solution to a school stores problem, subjects may consider how bees, ants, squirrels, shoe firms and car manufacturers store things, and try to see the relationship between them and the school stores problem.

D. Finally, after reaching a solution, subjects learn to harmonize their thoughts with the problem and adapt them to practical application.

Although use of Gordon's method is not as widespread as that of Osborn, apparently it has more potential and advantages than the other methods in training of creativity. A number of researchers, including Mcpherson (1964) and Stein (1968) have indicated the possible success of this strategy.

Open-ended Activities:

Open-ended activities are those that have no right or wrong answers (Hertzog, 1998). Open-ended activities are used to modify the curriculum by providing differentiated instruction and challenge to the learner. Open-ended activities provide for multiple possibilities and risk taking that lead to creativity in content, process, and product (Hertzog, 1998).

Open-ended activities remove the fear of failing that one right answer and allow for instruction to take place in the student's zone of proximal development (Hertzog, 1998). Teachers of the creative should provide stimulating activities that allow for an open-ended, multidisciplinary approach (Baer, 1993/1994; Daniels, 1997; Healey, 1990; Hertzog, 1997; Ritchhart, 2004; Tomlinson, 2001).

Questioning Techniques:

Creative curiosity inclines students to actively explore the environment through questioning (Colangelo and Davis, 1997). Open-ended questioning techniques encourage independent thought and creativity (Hertzog, 1997). Effective questioning techniques in the classroom are vital to encouraging and responding to intellectual and creative curiosity. Burning questions drive imagination and creative inquisitions (Colangelo and Davis, 1997). What if questioning technique encourage students to visualize and imagine creative solutions to pressing problems. It serves as a springboard for creative projects, investigations, and discussions (Colangelo and Davis, 1997).

Vail (as cited in Healey, 1990) wrote, by engaging students only in a quest for the correct answer rather than for the interesting question, we condmn them to live inside other men's discoveries (P. 259). According to Gardner (2000), the purpose of education is not to provide ultimate answers, but to enhance one's sense of understanding without dashing one's sense of mystery and wonder (P. 185). The ability of teachers and students to develop effective questioning techniques, leads to deeper creative thinking and reflexive inquiry (Healey, 1990).


The act of drawing server as physical representations of the constructs of the visual mind (Colangelo and Davis, 1997). Drawing, as a creative thinking technique, aids students in analyzing and modifying creative visions. Drawing clarifies visual images and provides a detailed visual record of the creative process (Colangelo and Davis, 1997). Drawing allows for the recording, communication, manipulation, and storage of visual images (Adams, 1986). According to Tate (2003), both learning styles and brain theories support the idea that memory can be strengthened through drawing.

Visual thinking is a student's ability to perceive and transform the visual-spatial world around him or her (Tate, 2003). Visual thinking facilitated in the classroom environment provides students with materials and opportunities to interact visually with ideas (Brookes, 1996; Colangelo and Davis, 1997). The thinking required in art improves thinking in other areas of the curriculum (Daniels, 1997).


Talents Unlimited:

The Talents Unlimited Model (TU) was based on Calvin Taylor's Multiple Talents Totem Pole (Davis, 1998; Davis and Rimm, 1998; Schlichter, 1997). TU is a talent development program implemented into the instructional curriculum. It focuses on building the academic talent through five thinking talents: productive thinking, decision-making, planning, forecasting, and communication (Davis, 1998; Schlichter, 1997). The TU model has been used effectively to differentiate instruction in the regular classroom and to nurture the diverse intellectual needs of students (Schilichter, 1997; Schlichter and Palmer, 1993).

Creative Problem Solving:

The Creative Problem Solving Model (CPS), another creativity enhancing technique, originated by Osborn (1963) included six stages in guiding the creative process. Osborn's (1963) model systematically honed in and focused attention on each aspect of a problem for designing a workable solution. The steps of CPS include mess finding, fact finding, problem finding, idea finding solution finding, and acceptance finding (Davis, 1998).

The first step in the CPS model is mess finding. In this stage, a problem is located, and the CPS model is applied. Fact-finding includes the identification of all relevant data to fill in any gaps. In the problem finding stage, the problem is broken down into sub-problems. Idea finding is the stage where ideas are generated for possible solutions. In solution finding, students select and weigh criteria for evaluating solutions. Choosing a solution and devising a plan for implementation is the final stage called accepting finding.

Each step in the CPS model involves a divergent thinking phase, which provides a plethora of ideas, facts, problems, definitions, solutions, and evaluation criteria (Davis and Rimm, 1998). The basic premise of the model is to think widely by generating many ideas and then narrowly by focusing to reach a resolution. A two-stage version of this model includes a big idea stage followed by the elaboration stage (Davis and Rimm, 1998).


SCAMPER is another version of creative Problem Solving (CPS) developed by Osborne (1963). SCAMPER, an acronym for the steps involved in the process, includes: substitute, combine, adapt, modify/magnify/minify, put to other use, eliminate, and reverse/rearrange. This slightly simplified version of Osborne's model is often implemented with students.

Future Problem Solving:

The Future Problem Solving (FPS) is a program designed to foster creative development in students (Davis, 1998). FPS was begun by Torrance to help students develop teamwork, respect, understanding, compromise, listening, and cooperation skills (Davis and Rimm, 1998). In this model, students begin a yearlong competition program that researches a topic, brainstorms related problems, selects one underlying problem, further brainstorms solutions, develops criteria to judge the ideas, evaluates the most promising solution, and then describes the solution in detail (Davis and Rimm, 1998).

Cognitive Research Trust:

The Cognitive Research Trust program (CoRT; de Bono, 1986) is noteworthy for the direct teaching of complex thinking skills. CoRT is a lateral thinking program aimed at increasing student insight through the analysis of problems viewed from different perspectives. The lessons and exercises such skills as evaluating, planning, and prioritizing. The CoRT program teaches creative thinking skills through a conscious and deliberate direct instruction method (de Bono, 1986). For example, de Bono's PMI method encourages students to evaluate the plus, minus, and interesting features of a given problem or situation (de Bono, 1986).

Schoolwide Enrichment Model:

Renzulli and Reis' (1997) Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) envisages the development of creativity through projects and investigations of real life problems. This model is based on Renzulli's three-ring concept of giftedness, which maintains that gifted behavior is interaction between above average ability, motivation, and creativity (Davis, 1998). Through this method of learning, a student develops skills in content, process, and product.

Renzulli and Reis (1997) described student-initiated investigations with Type I, Type II, and Type III projects. Type I enrichment includes activities such as media, field trips, and other general exploratory events. Type II enrichment involves students in cognitive and affective thinking to acquire the real-life competencies of a trade, advanced research techniques, and oral and written communication skills (Davis, 1997; Renzulli and Reis, 1997). Type III enrichment calls for small group and individual investigations into real-life problems. It is important to Type III investigations that students produce a product to be presented for an authentic audience (Davis, 1997; Renzulli and Reis, 1997).


From reviewing the results of many studies dealing with creativity, Torrance (1965) concluded that perhaps nothing could contribute more the general welfare of the nation and the satisfactions and mental health of its people than a general raising of the levels of creative behavior. He listed the following four basic reasons for developing creative thinking:

1-          Creative thinking helps maintain good mental health and enhances personality development.

2-          Creative thinking may lead to the acquisition of new knowledge.

3-          Creative thinking may help in solving daily problems.

4-          Creative thinking helps people of present and future generations to survive.

Two goals of creativity instruction are to help students become more self-actualized, creative individuals; and to better enable students to make creative contributions to society (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Cultivating creativity in the classroom leads to the advancement of society, by helping students become better resolvers of open-ended problems (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Through conscious effort, creativity enhancement increases students' self-esteem, confidence, and enthusiasm for life (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Torrance (in Davis and Rimm, 1998) summarized the following benefits to creativity teaching and learning: improved motivation, concentration, achievement, and curiosity. According to Torrance, creativity instruction creates a charged atmosphere that improves self-confidence, creative growth and expression, and the communication of ideas.

Creativity training motivates students to delve deeper into the learning process. When students are actively engaged in the learning process, they lose all sense of time and focus more directly on the task at hand (Davis and Rimm, 1998). Creativity nurturing and practice helps students learn to become intrinsically motivated. In developing students' creativity, educators must strive to move from extrinsic rewards to intrinsic motivation. Creativity instruction fosters both the affective and cognitive domains of thought and helps students develop a joy for learning that lasts a lifetime (Colangelo and Davis, 1997).

Efficacy is also enhanced through the development of creativity. Creativity training helps build a student's self-confidence (Ritchhart, 2004). Metacognition plays a vital role in creativity enhancement and helps to build and develop self-efficacy in students. Efficacy helps students to become competent, independent learners and thinkers and prepares them for creative thinking and problem solving (Davis and Rimm, 1998, Taylor and Sacks, 1981).

Creativity training also benefits social skill development (Ritchhart, 2004). Many creative tasks such as brainstorming are designed as a group activity. In brainstorming students work together and hitchhike off of one another's ideas. Creativity training activities such as these encourage students to work together building social and interpersonal skills. These activities are designed to foster cooperation and minimize competition. This downplay of competition seeks to build an environment of respect that places value on individual differences (Ritchhart, 2004).

Academic performance also benefits from creativity instruction. Creativity instruction increases academic performance such as comprehension, retention of material, and the ability to transfer knowledge from one domain to another (Ritchhart, 2004). Creative nurturing includes the use of analogies, open-ended activities, problem solving and higher-order questioning techniques. All of these activities help students develop and valuable skills that improve academic performance.

Sternberg's (2003) triarchical studies showed that students taught through methods emphasizing analytical, practical, and creative thinking performed better on performance assessments emphasizing analytical, practical, and creative thinking, but more interestingly, students also performed better on multiple choice assessments that emphasized rote memory learning. These research results demonstrate that teaching creative thinking not only allows students to develop and express their creativity, but to learn better also. Sternberg and Williams (1996) stated our research shows that teaching students to think while they learn to think, improves not only their thinking, but their memory for the material taught (P. 87).


Creativity studies began in the last third of the nineteenth century but real interest in the object emerged approximately in the 1950s. Studies have looked at creativity mainly from four angles: firstly, the creative person. Traits of the creative personality have been studied, revealing that creative people tend to be intelligent to a certain extent but show signs of psychological instability. They are imaginative, sensitive, self-sufficient, mentally flexible and have good powers of self-expression. They are absorbed rather than sociable, aesthetic, independent and traditional in matters outside there creative field.

Secondly, the creative product, this should be distinguished by certain characteristics: it must be original, adapted for an actual situation or problem, elegant and possible to assess.

Thirdly, the creative process, this depends on four main abilities: fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration. Guilford and his associates have, in fact, identified 23 abilities, which may be arranged into four categories depending on content: 5 figural abilities, 6 symbolic abilities, 6 semantic abilities and 6 behavioural abilities.

In depth, the creative process is divided into five levels: expressive creativity, productive creativity, inventive creativity, innovative creativity and emergent creativity.

The creative process as a complex operation is organized in four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.

Fourthly, there are the environmental influences which may affect creativity. These factors referred to education, family and culture.

The review also examined creativity and development. Furthermore, creative development and age-level characteristics were included.

In regard to nurturing creativity, creativity and education, nurturing creativity in the classroom, and objectives of creativity enhancement were also addressed

On the basis of the possibility that environment influences creativity, many methods have been devised to develop creativity. The nine main methods in this respect and creative thinking models were then outlined. The final section focused on the benefits of creativity enhancement.

The literature is consistent with treatment of creativity and creativity training in suggesting that all people are creative to some extent and that creativity can be taught. Furthermore, the studies exacerbate the importance of creativity training in the school system and indirectly imply that such training would be appropriate for exceptional children as well those in the regular education classroom.



Characteristics of concept mapping, a brief discussion of some theoretical issues related to the notion of concept mapping, and their educational applications are the focus of this section.

The study of concept mapping as a research topic evolved from work conducted at Cornell University in the early 1970s by Joseph Novak in which he and his colleagues developed concept mapping as a tool to represent knowledge structures. Novak and his colleagues found that young children are capable of understanding abstract concepts and can also successfully develop meaningful concept maps which they can explain to others. These maps depict the hierarchy and relationships among concepts. Relationships among concepts are depicted by lines drawn to connect the concept words on a map. These maps are organized hierarchically, with the broadest, most inclusive concepts at the top of the concept map and more specific detailed concepts near the bottom of the concept map. The links between words on the concept map are labeled by the relationship between concepts.

In other words, a concept is a regularity in events or objects designated by a label. Concept maps are intended to represent meaningful relationships among concepts in the form of propositions. A proposition consists of two or more concept labels linked by words in a semantic network. A concept map can be thought of as a representation of a set of concept meanings embedded in a propositional framework. The concept map provides a schematic summary of learning that has occurred after a learning task has been completed. Concept maps should be hierarchical with more general, more inclusive concepts subsuming more specific concepts. Since most, if not all, concepts fit into a conceptual domain which consists of numerous interlinked pieces, concept maps, in addition to being a hierarchical representation, should also have cross-links that show interrelationships among the concept on the map. Parts of the map may have linear representations or segments, but as conceptual understanding increases, cross-linking of the segment would be expected for a concept domain. Linking words added to connect and provide meaning to linkages on the map. Concept mapping is a technique for externalizing concepts and propositions. (Novak et al., 1983; Novak and Gowin, 1984; Novak, 1990a, 1990b, 1993). Figure (1) shows a sample concept map about concept maps, and Figure (2) shows a concept map showing key concepts in concept mapping.


From the mid-sixties to the present, there have been some notable cognitive theories of learning that have provided a clear connection between concept mapping and higher cognitive processes. The main tenets of those theories will be discussed in brief as follows:

Concept Mapping and Novice/Expert Differences:

Newell and Simon (1972) viewed learning as the process by which novices become experts, and studied the performance differences between the two groups. They noted that the experts see solutions as configurations and patterns of relevant information. These patterns are made of chunks of information, but novices in contrast see individual pieces of information. Bruer states that the experts more effective, more information rich chunks allow them to see superior possible moves and choose the best of these (1993, P.9).

Comparison studies of novice and expert performance in solving problems attributes the superior performance of experts to their (a) meaningful mental representations, (b) domain knowledge, and (c) self-monitoring skills. Using teaching strategies that promote such thinking can make novices move closer to being experts. According to Cliburn (1990) concept mapping is a process-oriented activity that focuses on the individual student's discovery of meaning. Meaningful learning is idiosyncratic, requiring association of newly learned concepts with what the learner already knows (Ausubel, et al., 1978). Concept mapping allows the learner to draw upon relevant prior knowledge and concretize meaningful learning. Roth and Bowen (1993) found that concept mapping forces students to truly understand information of which they have intuitive understanding and identifies recognizable gaps in their understanding. Making connections and recognizing missing connections points students towards constructing domain of knowledge (Hyrle, 1996; Novak and Heinze-Fry, 1990).

Concept Mapping and Schema Representation:

According to McNamara, (1994); Rummelhart, (1980) and Rummelhart and Norman, (1978) schemas or schemata are the building blocks of cognition and the fundamental elements which all information processing depends on. A schema is a data or knowledge structure for representing the general concepts stored in the memory. These knowledge structures capture regularities of objects and events. Schemas are packets of knowledge, and schema theory is a theory of how these packets are represented and how that representation facilitates the use of the knowledge in particular ways. Thus, there are schemas representing our knowledge about all concepts including the underlying objects, situations, events, actions and sequences of actions. To explain how learning takes place within a schema, three different processes -accretion, tuning, and restructuring- have been proposed to account for the change in existing schema and the acquisition of new schema due to learning. Accretion is the encoding of new information within existing schema or understanding an event. When existing schema evolves to become more consistent with experience, then tuning has occurred. Finally restructuring involves the creation of an entirely new schema which replaces or incorporates old ones. These processes are parallel to Piaget's learning concepts of assimilation and accommodation. Accretion and tuning subsume the assimilation concept, and tuning parallels the concept of accommodation.

The researcher believes that concept mapping is an approximation of a schema. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss schema theory in further detail. There are at least two different types of schema or knowledge representations, declarative schema and procedural schema. The first one, declarative schema, involves knowledge that can be verbalized, visualized, and declared in some manner. The declarative schema refers to the contents and facts of a discipline. This schema also includes information stored as images and nonverbal knowledge. Our success at engaging in complex cognitive activities such as problem solving depends, in part, on our familiarity with how much we know about the content or facts about that discipline (Dillon, 1986; McNamara, 1994; and Phye 1997). McNamara (1994) categorizes the declarative schema in two ways:

A. Analogical representations: preserve properties of objects and events in an intrinsic manner. For example, the representation of knowledge in the mind about a bird is preserved with visually notable and distinct properties of birds in a concrete way. Analogical knowledge exists for all sensory perceptions and it helps preserve and recreate the world as it was previously experienced.

B. Propositional representations: preserve the knowledge structures intrinsically and model the conscious thought as imageless thought. The intrinsic structure of these imageless thoughts is made up of interrelated concepts that can be represented as words or propositions. In other words, propositional representation refers to the gist of a passage that we remember instead of the properties and the language used to express it. Thus good memory for gist or essence is easy to explain if knowledge can be represented as propositions.

The second one, procedural schema, involves knowledge that consist of skills and cognitive operations. In simple words it is about how to do things. Procedural knowledge is demonstrated when a student can combine, incorporate or assimilate declarative schema so that it can be used procedurally. Procedural knowledge according to Phye (1997) would include the use of cognitive tools ... such as application analysis, synthesis, evaluation ect. (P.54) Driscoll (1994) refers to it as the memory for procedures and skills. This knowledge is knowing when and how to use declarative and procedural knowledge to construct a learning outcome. It involves, for example, critical thinking in social studies and problem solving in math and science (Phye, 1997). Declarative knowledge is assessed with traditional measures of memory retention. However, procedural and strategic knowledge are assessed using ... transfer performances (Phye, 1997, P. 54).

Thinking and problem solving skills like application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are part of the procedural knowledge. These are the processes used in the transfer performances (Perkins and Blyth, 1994). In other words, transfer performances require the procedural schema as well as the declarative schema, as the declarative schema provides a playground on which the procedural schema can perform those strategy procedures. For example, to perform an operation such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (procedural schema) to a book written on the topic of teaching children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) one must have a conceptual understanding (declarative schema) of Special Education and education as a whole.

To summarize, schemas, also called knowledge representations, not only preserve information about and interpretation of objects and events of the world, but they also provide a playing field for higher cognitive processes to occur. The most relevant aspect of schema theory for this study is that declarative schema can be represented in the form of maps. Mapping allows the schema to be uncovered. A proposition is the smallest unit of knowledge that can be expressed as words. Concept mapping represents schemas by placing propositions in relation to other propositions thus forming networks.

Concept Mapping and Information Processing Theory:

The key issue in this theory is to expose the underlying knowledge needed by subjects in the process of generating solutions. Based upon Gagne's work (1962) information processing theory emphasizes two basic processes: (a) meaningful encoding, and (b) retrieval of information. The closer the manner of encoding parallels the demands of performance, the more effective it will be in aiding retention and retrieval. Meaningful encoding done by organizing information into chunks and units activates effective retrieval (Tulving and Thompson, 1973). Concept mapping allows chunking which is done by creating semantic and associative linkages that help store information into the long-terms memories (Armbruster and Anderson, 1981). According to the Information Processing Theory, the concept of spreading activation in retrieving an item from the memory consists of activating its internal representation. Spreading action is like bursting chins of meaningful understanding across concepts links to recall what is needed to solve the problem. The activation of a neural node passes through the links to other nodes in the network. The rate of spread is extremely rapid. A node is a source of activation as long as it is the focus of activation. As the attention is shifted, activation decays rapidly. Activation also decays exponentially with distance in the network. Finally, the time required to retrieve a memory trace is inversely related to its activation level, that is the more active traces are retrieved faster than are less active ones. Concepts that are connected to many other concepts or have more meaningful understandings are more active. Concept mapping makes activation efficient because concept mapping is a network of concepts that are hierarchically connected and are crosslinked. Research shows that students who used concept mapping appear to have enhanced integration and retention of knowledge and therefore have a greater recall of information from long-term memory (Novak and Heinze-Fry, 1990; Pressley, 1995).

Concept Mapping and Connectionist Models:

Connectionist models appear to be structurally and functionally similar to neural system in the brain, often called neural networks (sylwester, 1995). According to Caine and Caine (1991) the brain is a complex system of many specific organizations: like a city, they are interconnected and interdependent upon each other. Furthermore, the brain is a parallel processor which is simultaneously involved in processing and transmitting information and materials from one area to another to execute transmitting information and materials from one area to another to execute necessary functions (Abbott, 1997). According to Grossberg (1980) Jensen (1998) and McClelland and Rummelhart (1986) connectionist models have the following common features:

A. The brain is a large collection of simple neuron-like elements or units.

B. These units are densely interconnected with excitatory and inhibitory associations.

C. Learning is accomplished by adjusting the strengths of the interconnections.

D. Knowledge is distributed throughout the system and the patterns of interconnections comprise what the learner knows.

Caine and Caine (1991) believe that the brain innately seeks to make sense by making connections. The search for making sense of our experiences and the consequential need to act on our environment is automatic. This search for meaning is seeking transformations and is at the heart of the intrinsic motivation for thinking.

Another aspect of connectionist learning is that the search for meaning occurs through patterning. Patterning refers to the meaningful organization and categorization of information (Caine and Caine, 1991). Sylwester (1995) notes that connecting or stringing things together appears to be a key function of our brain. We string events into stories and actions into games. Joining things together in sequences adds flow to our life (P.51). According to O'keefe and Nadel (1978) we are genetically endowed with a capacity to navigate through space by constantly creating and testing spatial maps. Maps are constructed within what they call the locale memory system. Locale memories are records of ongoing events in life with complex relationships between them. They are never limited to static, context-free facts. They are memories that exist in a relationship to where we are in space as well as what we are doing (Caine and Caine, 1991, P.41). The brain is designed to perceive and generate patterns and resist having isolated meaningless pieces of information imposed upon it (Numela and Rosengren, 1988). Furthermore, our brain contains an interpreting system that creates reasonable rationalization for events that are otherwise difficult to explain. These rationalizations are made by analysis of assumptions of reality and through inferences drawn from learned ideas. Rationalizations are natural higher cognitive processes. Therefore, if the subject matter knowledge is presented in the form of well-connected patterns of thinking, higher cognitive processes are bound to follow (Sylwester, 1995).

The connections model points out two basic principles, the brain makes connections through association and patterns; and the brain can perform parallel processing, it can accommodate schema from many different memories at the same time. This implies that every experience contains within it the seeds of many, and possibly all, disciplines. One way this notion can be useful to educators is to encourage them to teach through thematic teaching (Caine and Caine, 1991). This ideas is to adopt some event or topic that allows for inclusion of many topics ... the reasoning behind this approach is that the central theme helps students relate all the information (Caine and Caine, 1991, P.120). The idea of thematic teaching goes hand-in-hand with concept mapping. For example, a theme for studying the environment can be done by studying about air pollution in Science and its effects in Social Studies and Reading. All the ideas learned in different subject areas about the environment can be connected by the use of concept maps. The tool of concept mapping not only allows the students to assimilate the complexity of the experience, it also forces them to maintain order within the scope of freedom. Hyrle claims that a visual tool like concept mapping is one way to describe how a system functions and when innovative thinking in one part of the system has an effect on the total system (Hyrle, 1996, P. xi).

Concept Mapping and Non-linear Dynamic Systems:

Chaos theory one of the non-linear dynamic models of learning which emphasize a macroanalytic approach to understanding behavior where components of a whole system are viewed as integratingly related in non-linear fashion (Glieck, 1987; and Guess and Sailor, 1993). In the literature, chaos has been referred to as the edge of criticality, or random order, or nonlinear dynamics. Chaos theory describes the behavior of a complex system as it goes through changes over time. Specifically, any complex system-given changes in the initial conditions and moves to state of disequilibrium called the verge of instability. This instability proceeds to random non-linear behavior that appears to be chaotic and unpredictable. Chaos theory suggests that the human brain is fundamentally a pattern forming, and self organizing system governed by non-linear dynamic laws. It dwells in a metastable state which is positioned on the verge of instability and can switch flexibly and quickly to accommodate new ideas. By living near this criticality, the brain is able to anticipate the future, and not simply react to the present. (Caine and Caine, 1997; Glieck, 1987; and sylwester, 1995).

Chaos theory suggests that complex systems, like learning in humans, appears to be random yet contain an inherent order (Glieck, 1987). One of basic messages we can infer from the chaos perspective on learning is that learning is holistic. Order in chaos is holistic and non-linear and results from similar effects resulting from interdependent variables mutually affecting each other in a coherent fashion. Human beings are complex systems that seek meaning through a collective holistic understanding of ideas and how the wholes to their parts. In other words, coherence comes by integrating the parts into the whole system. Isolate the system from its parts and it will lose meaning (Glieck, 1987). The structurally hierarchical quality of concept mapping places more general concepts at the top and more specific ones at the lower levels. This structure helps the learner to develop holistic understanding. Another aspect of the chaos perspective is that learning is the mind's journey from chaos to equilibrium forming the strange attractor of understanding. Concept mapping can provide a feedback loop through connections and inferences to achieve the strange attractor of meaning and understanding. Also, different aspects of theme connected through concept mapping help evolve understanding in the knowledge domain to renewed meanings.

To conclude, the relationship between concept mapping and the various cognitive theories of learning, discussed above, clearly points towards the efficiency of using concept mapping as an appropriate learning strategy.

According to Ausubel learning becomes less rote and more meaningful when instruction is planned to encourage the following from key concepts and concept mapping is a tool that aids in facilitating all of them:

A. Subsumption: incorporation of new knowledge into a specifically relevant existing concept of the proposition.

B. Integrative Reconciliation: new learning that results in explicit delineation of similarities and differences between related ideas.

C. Superordinate Learning: new concepts or propositions acquired that relate to the meaning of two or more related, less inclusive ideas.

D. Progressive Differentiation: elaboration and clarification of the meaning of concepts as meaningful learning progresses ( Ausubel, 1968; Ausubel et al., 1978; Novak, 1990a; and Wandersee, 1990).


The development of concept mapping is based on Ausubel's (1968) theory that the existing cognitive structure is the principle fact influencing learning and retention of meaningful new material. Concept maps are visual, graphical representations of concepts and the relationships that exist among or between related concepts (Mintzes, Wandersee, and Novak, 2001). In a concept map, related concepts are represented as nodes, and the specific relationship between two concepts is indicated by a labeled line with linking words to connect the nodes (Bolte, 1999). A concept map can also provide a kind of visual road map that shows some of the pathways to connect meanings of concepts in propositions (Novak and Gowin, 1984). Novak and Gowin further state concept maps are intended to represent meaningful relationships between concepts in the form of propositions (P.15). Concept maps are hierarchical representations of concept and propositions that reflect an individual's knowledge structure in a given domain. No two concepts maps are exactly the same, as each concept map represents how an individual cognitively organizes information. Additionally, concept maps change over time as the individual's knowledge and understanding evolve over time (Dabbagh, 2001).

According to Anderson-Inman and Ditson (1999) concept maps are also known as mind maps, graphic/visual organizers, and semantic webs. However, Cañas et al. (2003) distinguish concept maps from other mapping systems such as knowledge maps, mind maps, cognitive maps, and semantic networks by their theoretical basis in Ausubel's Assimilation Learning theory and constructivist epistemology, their semi-hierarchical organization, the use of unconstrained and meaningful linking phrases, and the way concepts are defined (P.13). (An elaboration of these distinguishing characteristics can be found in Appendix (?)


Concept mapping is a type of knowledge representation (Plotnic, 1997) a process of constructing concept maps: identifying important concepts and relationships between these concepts, and labeling the nature of the semantic relationship between concepts (Gavrilova, et al.; 1999). According to Jonassen and Grabowski, concept maps describe how prior knowledge is interrelated. It visually presents relationships between ideas in a knowledge domain, called structural knowledge (cited in Plotnick, 1997). Visual representations of concept maps allow learners to gain an overview of a domain of knowledge. The use of concept maps has been developed specifically to tap into a learner's cognitive structure and to externalize for both the leaner and the teacher to see, what the learner already know (Novak and Gowin, 1984, P 40). Plotnick (1997) noted that concept mapping could be used for several purposes, for example, brainstorming, designing complicated structure, negotiating complex ideas, assisting learning by integrating new and prior knowledge, and evaluating understanding or diagnosing misunderstanding.


Concept mapping has become a viable educational medium since Novak developed this tool (Horton, et al., 1993) and is widely used in a variety of educational settings, including science teaching, teacher education, program evaluation and planning, instructional design, and evaluation of conceptual change (Aidman and Egan, 1998). Concept mapping encourages active learning (Gold and Coaffee, 1998). As Irvine (1995) stated that the overwhelming evidence ... is that concept mapping not only facilitates meaningful learning, but makes the learners into active processors of information rather than passive listeners (P. 1178). Concept mapping is a useful tool either in learning or teaching (Plotnick, 1997). The application of concept mapping is briefly described in the following subsections:

Cognitive/Mind Tools: According to (Gavrilova et al., 1999) cognitive tools refer to technologies that enhance the cognitive powers of individuals during thinking, problem solving, and learning. Jonassen and his colleagues noted that higher order thinking depends on well-organized, domain-specific knowledge. Concept mapping facilitates the development of representation of domain knowledge. They indicated that concept mapping is predictive of different forms of higher order thinking, such as problem solving, reasoning, and also helps transfer these skills to a set of similar problems (Jonassen, et al., 1997). For example, in a study conducted by Okebukola and Atkinson (1992), the students who engaged in concept mapping were better able to solve biology problems. Dabbagh (2001) views concept mapping as a mind or cognitive tool that can enhance the relationship between declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge to produce another form of knowledge -structural knowledge- that leads to the development of rich mental models in learners and further helps them think in meaningful ways.

Negotiating Tools: Concept mapping can be used as a tool for negotiating meaning through teacher-made and student-made concept maps, and, thus, teachers and students can exchange their views on a particular topic being studied; moreover, concept maps by teachers help students understand what is being taught, while concept maps by students help teachers understand what is being learned (Anderson-Inman and Ditson, 1999). In addition, concept maps can be used for teachers to negotiate meanings with students as well as to point out students' misconceptions (Novak and Gowin, 1984).

Leaning and Instructional Strategies: Learning can be rote memorization with little interaction with previous knowledge, to highly meaningful where learners integrate new concept into previously existing cognitive structures (Ausubel, 1968; Novak and Gowin, 1984). Learners choose to learn by rote or meaningfully, and part of the task of teachers is to help the student choose powerful, meaningful learning approaches (Novak and Gowin, 1984; Novak, 1998). Novak (1998) points out that metacognitive strategies can empower learners to take charge of their own learning in a highly meaningful fashion. Concept mapping has been considered a useful tool for helping students learn about the structure of knowledge and knowledge of production, or metaknowledge (Novak and Gowin, 1984, P. 8).

Concept maps, when constructed by students, help to illustrate language labels used to construct concept and propositional relationships about a domain of knowledge (Novak and Gowin, 1984). Novak (1998) stated that concept maps serve as tools to illustrate the hierarchical, conceptual nature of knowledge.

When used as a study strategy, concept mapping helps students understand the gist of a basic concept and its interrelation to prior knowledge and, thus, can increase the quality of formal content knowledge and result in consistent, hierarchical, and coherent knowledge structures as it facilitates learners to search for, or identify patterns and relationships among ideas (Gavrilova, et al., 1999). Concept mapping allowed students to structure concepts using their perspective rather than someone else's (Novak and Gowan, 1984). They also serve as tools to help learners organize their cognitive frameworks into more powerful, integrated patterns. Aidman and Egan (1998) regarded concept mapping as a valuable learning technique that helps students to visually organize their understanding of the subject (P.277). plotnick (1997) further considers concept mapping a problem-solving tool to generate alternative solutions and options.

As an instructional strategy, concept mapping can be used to actively engage students in learning activities. It also allows for the creation of advanced organizers based on students' input. Teachers can make use of advanced organizers as diagnostic tools to design an appropriate lesson plan to clarify the misconceptions that students may have on the topics to be learned (Dabbagh, 2001). In the study investigating the effectiveness of concept mapping as an instructional tool, meta-analysis findings reveal that this instructional strategy significantly improved student's achievement and attitudes (Horton, et al., 1993).

The creation of a concept map allows all students to participate and to make use of their prior knowledge, helping them learn and understand the new words or concepts presented by the teacher or the instructional materials found in the classroom.

Semantic mapping has been used interchangeably with concept mapping, but concept maps have been used as a representation of meaning or ideational framework specific to a domain of knowledge, for a given context of meaning (Novak, 1990a). Concept mapping provides a graphic model of connection between a central theme (concept) and related words or categories (Clayton and Nordstrom, 1987). Semantic mapping was suggested by Johnson and Pearson (1984) as a useful process for promoting vocabulary development and reading comprehension (P.214). Similarly, Heimlich and Pitelman (1986) suggested concept mapping is a technique in which information is displayed with categories related to a core concept. Students use prior knowledge and experiences to increase or expand their knowledge through vocabulary development and discussion.

Cleland (1981) presented three different types of semantic mapping strategies: episodal, inductive, and emotional. Episodal helps children identify the main events in a story and organize the subsidiary material. Students are given a story, or a passage from a story, and are instructed to provide titles for the main story line that are different from the title or subtitle given by the author. An inductive web develops generalization skills. Students are asked to make a list of relevant concepts from the story and to order them from specific to general. An emotional web focuses the children's attention on the feelings of the characters and their relationships. Students are encouraged to identify what feeling and reactions are experienced by the story's characters. The ultimate objective of each webbing device was to help children think about and discuss issues of importance.

Schwab and Coble (1985) defined webbing as a technique that will help improve student's reading comprehension by giving them the ability to extract and make concrete to themselves information contained in a textbook. They claimed semantic webs help students better comprehend readings by representing the relations between concepts visually. Clewell and Haidemos (1983) recommended webbing as one framework for structuring the main idea and related concepts of textual information. They further theorized that because this structure uses the author's organization of material, the comprehension and recall of this material by students can be facilitated when they process, or actively read to process, information within the webbing diagram. Basal reader lessons can be enriched with semantic webbing.

Sinatra (1985) described an exploratory study concerning the relative effectiveness of the semantic mapping technique versus the basal reader approach in promoting reading comprehension in learning disabled students. He found that some learning disabled students are quite capable in nonverbal, visuospatial functioning. As a visuospatial strategy, semantic mapping was suggested for aiding learning disabled student's comprehension. The study found a significant difference in scores of students who received the semantic mapping strategy and those who received the basal reading strategy.

Most students find writing frightening because they simply cannot get their ideas together when they are writing (Novak and Gowin, 1984). Concept mapping is one way to ease and overcome this barrier (Novak and Gowin, 1984). Moreover, part of the problem idea generation is due to their lack of knowledge about their subject and, thus, they fail to draw on what knowledge they do have for writing tasks (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 1986). Concept mapping can be used to activate knowledge prior to composing and serves as a scaffold to cognitive processing by assisting students to see the relations among words, ideas, and categories (Sturm and Rankin-Erickson, 2002).

Similarly, Pehrsson and Denner (1998) indicated that using semantic organizers benefits students with disabilities in reading and writing, in that semantic organizers help bridge the gap between organizing information and the process of reading and writing, simplify information, help learners recognize important relationships between concepts and paragraphs in text, and aid students in constructing sentence and paragraphs. Moreover, semantic organizers can help students not only improve organizational skills, but also instill the awareness necessary to transfer these skills to new contexts, thereby enhancing student's reading and writing competence (Pehrsson and Denner, 1998, P. 36).

As a prewriting activity concept mapping encourages students to map out their ideas before writing (Avery, et al., 1996). Due to its fluency and organizing nature, concept mapping, whether on paper or computer, is a natural tool for prewriting activities (Margerum-Leys, 1999). Zipprich (1995) conducted a study using a multiple baseline design to investigate the effectiveness of the use of a prestructured story web technique as a prewriting strategy in teaching writing to 13 students with learning disabilities instructed in three groups. Planning time, number of thought units and words produced, types of sentences (e.g., fragment, simple sentences, compound sentences, and complex sentences), holistic scores, and mechanics (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and density factor) were used to measure the effectiveness of instruction on the web technique. The results of this study reveal that instruction in the story web technique had a positive effect on the planning time and holistic score, but did not make a difference in sentence structure and mechanics of writing. Although, after intervention, students increased their holistic scores and their stories included components of a good story, their writing was still poor quality. The results of this suggest that structured instruction in the web technique provide students with a strategy for organization and planning time (Zipprich, 1995).

Twenty-four seventh and eighth grade students with mild disabilities were taught to use writing strategies, Inspiration software, and word processors. The quality and quantity of each student's written products were tracked daily, as well as student attitudes toward writing. Modest improvement was found in the quality of student's written products and a substantial increase in the amount that students wrote (Blair, Ormsbee, and Brandes, 2002).

Comparing achievement between the students who learned to write through concept mapping and those who learned to write through a traditional approach, Chiangmai (1998) found that the students learning to compose through concept mapping had significantly different achievement from those who learned to write through the traditional approach.

Empirical research on the efforts of concept mapping (Bakken et al., 1997; Boyle and Weishaar, 1997; Bulgren et al., 1988; Clements-Davis and Ley, 1991; Dimino et al., 1990; Gallego et al., 1989; Gardill and Jitendra, 1999; Gurney et al., 1990; Idol and Croll, 1987; Montague and Bos,1987; Morin and Miller, 1998; Newby et al., 1989; Reyes et al., 1989; Scandlon et al., 1996; Sinatra et al., 1984) found that students with various characteristics (e.g. learning disability, Mental retardation, and low achievement) using concept mapping strategies learn significantly better than students using traditional methods.

By using concept maps, students can learn to translate ideas from text into visual, graphical representations that display whole relationships of content ideas, and such graphic plans could help students from mental schemata of how texts are organized (Guastello, et al., 2000; Novak and Gowin, 1984). Moreover, as students gain skills and experience in constructing concept maps, they learn how to learn and become better at learning (Novak, 1998). It is important to note, however, that only a small percentage of students with learning disabilities experience difficulty with visuospatial functioning.

Assessment Tools: Concept maps have been found to be an effective assessment tool for evaluating student's understanding (Dabbagh, 2001; and Plotnick, 1997). Student drawn concept maps illustrate their ideas and understanding about the topic or unit under study, so they can help teachers diagnose misconceptions that students have and make instruction more effective (Plotnick, 1997). The act of constructing concept maps helps learners to recognize new relationships among concepts and refine their understanding of existing relationships (Anderson-Inman and Zeitz, 1993, 1994). Because concept maps are externalized representations of the learner's knowledge they can also be effective assessment tools for revealing misconceptions (Anderson-Inman, et al., 1998). Moreover, concept mapping is proving to be a powerful tool for evaluation (Novak, 1998). Concept maps can be used to assess many of the same aspects of learning that conventional tests measure, but they also assess aspects of learning that conventional tests can not measure particularly well (Ruiz-Primo, et al., 1997).

In reviewing the literature on concept mapping, Stoddart and colleagues found that there is a significant correlation between student's performance on concept mapping and on conventional tests, such as multiple-choice evaluations (Stoddart, et al., 2000). This was further confirmed by a study done by Ruiz-Primo and her colleagues, exploring two mapping techniques: providing or not providing the concepts used in the task, and the multiple-choice test of achievement. The participants were two classes of high school chemistry taught by the same teacher, a second chemistry teacher and one chemist. Students, teachers and the expert were trained to construct concept maps with the same training program. Two aspects of student's concept maps, map components and map discipline validity, were evaluated based on a criterion map developed by the researchers using the 20 key concepts. The finding of this study suggest that concept mapping and multiple-choice tests measure overlapping and yet somewhat different aspects of declarative knowledge (P. 27). In addition, it is suggested that concept maps can be reliably scored, even when judgments about the quality of the propositions enter into the scores (Ruiz-Primo, et al., 1997).

In another study exploring the use of constructed concept maps in conjunction with written interpretive as an additional method of assessment in three undergraduate mathematics courses, Bolte (1999) found that concept maps were a viable addition to traditional assessment in mathematics classes.

A study with 10-11 year-old students found a significant correlation between concept map content scores and essay scores (Osmundson, et al., 1999). In this study, concept mapping was used simultaneously as an instructional tool and an assessment tool in a classroom setting. Fifty-four fourth and fifth grade students from two intact classrooms were assigned to experimental and control groups. Pretest and posttest knowledge maps of their understandings of the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems were administered to both groups. Students in the experimental group created three additional collaborative maps during the course of instruction. Students in the control condition worked in small groups using the internet and related instructional material. In addition to knowledge maps, an essay task was administered to all students as a posttest measure of student's understanding of the respiratory, digestive, and circulatory system using a 5-point holistic scale by six independent raters for overall quality of the essay. Those results revealed a significant correlation between concept map content scores and essay scores.

Planning Tools: In addition to the above mentioned applications, concept maps can be used as an effective planning tool for both students and teachers. Students can use concept maps as a study aid to organize thoughts, plan research papers, group writing projects, and examine the understanding of a content area under study. Similarly, teachers can use them to create lesson plans, organize curriculum plans, and adapt instruction to student's needs by assessing concept maps made by students (Anderson-Inman, et al., 1998; Dabbagh, 1998).


As detailed in this section, during the past years, an increasing amount of research has focused on the nature of higher cognitive processes. Concept mapping as a tool for learning is well supported by cognitive theories of learning. Many researchers have concluded that concept mapping has positive effects on learning in a wide variety of content areas (such as biology, chemistry, reading, and writing) and enhances learning, whether with small group or whole class situations. Reports cited in the literature review indicate that concept maps were beneficial to students with and without learning problems.




The review of literature about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder includes the following related content areas: a brief history of ADHD, primary and associated symptoms of ADHD, the development stages of ADHD, comorbidity of ADHD with other disorders, the organic and non-organic origin of ADHD, assessment and diagnosis of ADHD, treatment of ADHD, common myths about ADHD, and alternative views of ADHD.


The condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) has had a variety of terms to describe it throughout the past decades. It has been a topic which has intrigued educators, physicians and researchers throughout history. Weiss and Hechtman (1993) point out:

It has been estimated that between 1957 and 1960 thirty-one articles were published in the scientific literature on the hyperactive child syndrome. Between 1960 and 1975 there were over 2000 articles, and from 1977 to 1980 (a period of 3 years) 700 articles were published. Within the past 20 years, this condition has clearly become the most-researched and best-known of the childhood behaviour disorders. (P.7)

The terminology to describe this disorder has included brain damage syndrome, minimal brain dysfunction, hyperkinetic reaction, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), as well as the most current term of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Barkley (2006), Goldstein and Goldstein (1990), Lerner et al (1995), and Weiss and Hechtman (1993) refer to one of the earliest writings concerning (ADHD) by Still who in 1902 wrote an article characterizing children having a defect in moral control. Still believed that the child's problem resulted in his or her inability to internalize rules and limits, and they showed patterns of restless, inattentive and over aroused behaviour. He also believed that this pattern of behaviour could have resulted from injury, heredity, disease or environmental experiences. Still observed that the disorder occurred more frequently in males than in females and that this did not happen by chance. He was also believed that these children could not be helped and should be institutionalized at an early age.

Barkley (2006) Goldstein and Goldstein (1990), and Weiss and Hechtman (1993) account for the years of 1917 and 1918 as being the postencephalitic behaviour disorder period which linked the disorder to the central nervous system (CNS). Many of the children recovering from these years of encephalitis epidemic were described as demonstrating the characteristics of ADHD.

Such children were described as being impaired in attention, regulation of activity, and impulse control. They also showed impairments in other cognitive abilities (including memory), and were often noted to be socially disruptive (Barkley, 2006, P.6).

The recommended method of treatment for these children was to place them in special educational facilities which used increased supervision and simple behavioural modification techniques, which was met with some success (Barkley, 2006).

Moghadam (1988) and Schachar (1986) refer to Bradley who in 1937 while working with institutionalized emotionally disturbed children administered a stimulant drug, Benzedrine, to relieve the children's headaches. Bradley observed a positive response to these children when be had given this amphetamine to them. The children become more interested in school projects, had better work habits and showed improvement in their disruptive behaviours.

In the early 1940s, the term brain damaged was used to describe the child who displayed a pattern of inattentive, restless and over aroused behaviour. Berko et al (1970) and Birch (1964) describe two types of brain damage: one, being hard or factual and the other as soft or conceptual signs of neurological disorder. Birch (1964) describes hard or factual brain damage as referring to any anatomic or physiologic alteration of a pathologic kind present in the nerve tissues of the brain (P.4). This type of brain damage would be diagnosed by a neurologist. The soft or conceptual signs are those that are most likely to be diagnosed by a psychologist and are most likely to include ADHD symptoms. As the psychologist tests, he or she would look for general behavioural disturbances which include inattention, impulsivity and distraction. These observations, along with the results of the psychological tests, help describe these children as being brain damaged.

By 1947 and into the 1950s Strauss, Werner and Lehtenen hypothesized that the core problem for these children was distractibility. They believed that if distractions were kept to a minimum, these children would function much better. This led to the introduction of the minimal stimulation classroom, in which teachers wore drab colours, the room remained undecorated and windows were frosted (Goldstein and Goldstein, 1990). The work of Strauss, Werner and Lehtenen is noted because their work supported the notion of an organic cause of hyperkinesis and the influence it had on educational practices, i.e. special education classroom (Schachar, 1986).

Their work led to further research in the 1950s and early 1960s which degraded the term brain damaged children. Several research reports made it difficult to verify brain damage in children with learning and behavioural problems, because these children looked normal. According to Barkley (2006) in 1964 researcher Brich, Herbert and Rapin questioned the validity of applying the concept of minimal brain damage to children who had only equivocal signs of neurological involvement, not necessarily damage. Clements (1971) was another reviewer who also had a disagreement in the use of this terminology. He stated:

Brain dysfunction can manifest itself in varying degrees of severity and can involve any or all of the more specific areas, e.g., motor, sensory and intellectual. This dysfunctioning can compromise the affected child in learning and behaviour. The term minimal brain dysfunction will be reserved for the child whose symptomatology appears in one or more of the specific areas of brain function, but in mild, borderline, or subclinical form, without reducing overall intellectual functioning to the subnormal ranges. (P. 275)

The term minimal brain dysfunction (MBD) was popular from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. It was around 1965 that the concept of MBD proved to turn controversial because it lacked clear descriptions for accurate diagnosis. It was in 1969 that the diagnostic category of Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood (HRC) was established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Hyperactivity was defined, not as a biological problem, but an environmental one. The second edition of the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) (APA, 1968) provided the term hyperkinetic reaction of children to describe the hyperactive child. The child was described as having a disorder which was characterized by over activity, restlessness, distractibility, and a short attention span (Lerner et al., 1995).

During the period between 1965 and 1980, little information was gained and no further accurate diagnosis made on this disorder. The behaviour, not being able to be scientifically explained, was simply blamed on the mother or the environment in which the child was raised (Copeland, 1995). Douglas and Dykman were prominent psychologists in this field at the time. Their thinking influenced a change in terminology in 1980 from the DSM-II's Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood to the DSM-III's Attention Deficit Disorder with and without Hyperactivity (ADD or ADD(H)) (Weiss and Hechtman, 1993, P.7). The guidelines in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) (APA, 1980) was considered to have significantly advanced the validity of the disorder. With the focus shifting to attentional problems rather than activity problems, the term ADD was established (Lerner et al., 1995, P.26). The DSM-III recognized three major types of ADD: (1) ADD with hyperactivity, consisting of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity; (2) ADD without hyperactivity; and (3) ADD-RT (residual type) which was used to describe the symptoms of ADD which extended into adulthood. (See Appendix F for full diagnostic description of ADD in the DSM-III).

In 1987 the name changed again with the publication of the revised third edition of the DSM-III-R (APA, 1987). this edition recommended the term Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), to reflect recent research showing that thought distractibility was primary in this disorder, hyperactivity was also an important factor (Lerner et al., 1995, P.27). For a diagnosis of ADHD, more specific criteria were established, such as: 8 of the 14 criteria had to be present before the age of 7 years and the duration of the symptoms has to persist for at least 6 months. (See Appendix G for full diagnostic description of ADHD in the DSM-III-R).

By the early 1990s ADHD was recognized as a disorder which continued into adulthood (Nadeau, 1995).

In response to many comments from the field researchers, a revision was entered in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (APA, 1994) to modify the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the DSM-III-R. The diagnosis of ADHD was expanded to three subtypes: ADHD-IA, predominantly Inattentive subtype; ADHD-HI, predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive subtype; and ADHD, combined subtype. The symptoms in each of the three subtypes should occur at least 6 (or more) times and be persistent for at least 6 months. This edition of the Diagnostic and statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders (DSM) and its text revision (DSM-IV-TR, 2000) which remained essentially the same is the last (to this date) and the current method of diagnosing children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. (See Appendix H for full diagnostic description of ADHD in the DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR).


The three primary characteristics of the disability, inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, are exhibited by most children to some degree and under some circumstances. Barkley (2006) refers to this cluster of symptoms as the holy trinity of ADHD. These children are believed to manifest these symptoms early in life and to a degree that is developmentally inappropriate.


ADHD children are known to display generic attentional disturbances. However, inattention is a multidimensional construct that can refer to problems with alertness, arousal, selectivity, sustained attention, distractibility, or span of apprehension, among others (Hale and Lewis, 1979). Goldstein and Goldstein (1990) write that researchers and clinicians have been criticized for characterizing the hyperactive child as experiencing a generic attention deficit. Many other professionals feel that psychology lacks an adequate definition for attentional skills (Mostovsky, 1970).

Posner and Snyder (1975) described attention as a complex field of investigation. Gordon and McClure (1983) argue that attentional skills can be operationally and statistically defined. Taylor (1980) suggested that the statistically weak correlations between various tests of attention suggest that there are distinct and different aspects of attentional skills. Although many use the term attention as a homogeneous skill, there are a number of distinct aspects to the attention process. Consequently, it is important that the psychologist understand these aspects and consider each during the process of evaluation (Goldstein and Goldstein, 1990).

Goldstein and Goldstein (1990) outlines five different types of attentional skills:

1. A child having difficulty with completing two simultaneous tasks, such as listening to the teacher and taking notes, would appear to have a problem with divided at attention.

2. Focused attention refers to a child who is often preoccupied with other activities instead of the task assigned by the teacher or parent.

3. A child easily distracted by extraneous events, such as minor noises in the classroom, would be considered to have a problem with selective attention.

4. A child with a sustained attention or persistence problem will be unable to remain on a task for a sufficient amount of time to complete the task.

5. Finally, a child who seems to have difficulty performing tasks such as listening to the next spelling word would have a problem with vigilance, or readiness to respond.

Hooks et al (1994) suggest that ADHD children have their greatest difficulty with sustaining attention to tasks vigilance. With the child in elementary school, free-play settings offer an opportunity for the observer to witness difficulties in this area. The child frequently shifts the focus of attention from toy to toy (Zentall, 1985). This inability to sustain attention is most dramatically noticed in situations that require the child to attend to boring, uninteresting, and repetitive tasks such as seatwork in the classroom, homework, or household chores (Milich et al., 1982; Zentall, 1985).

Much of the research on the inattentiveness of ADHD children has been somewhat contradictory. Some studies find that irrelevant stimulation provided within the task worsens the performance of ADHD children (Rosenthal and Allen, 1980), while others find no effect (Fischer et al., 1990) or even an enhancing effect on attention (Zentall et al., 1985). Barkley (2006) notes that the difficulty seems to be one of diminished persistence or level of effort when responding to tasks that are not chosen by the child. Likely the ADHD child will shift from an activity that is not intrinsically appealing or offers immediate reinforcement to a highly rewarding, competing activity. Barkley (2006) points out that it is not clear as to whether this represents true distraction (i.e., the child orients to extraneous stimuli) or behavioural disinhibition (i.e., the child fails to follow rules or instructions when provided with competing, highly rewarding activities). He takes the position that it is the latter is accurate.

These attention problems are often described by parents and teachers in terms such as Doesn't seem to listen, Fails to finish assigned tasks, Daydreams, Often loses things, Can't concentrate, Easily distracted, Can't work independently, Shifts from one activity to another, and Confused or seems to be in a fog (Barkley et al., 1990; Stewart, et al., 1966). Investigations using direct observations find that off-task behaviour or not paying attention to work is recorded substantially more often for ADHD children and adolescents than learning-disabled or normal children (Barkley et al., 1990, Fischer et al., 1990). Barkley (2006) notes that it is unclear in these studies whether this deficit in paying attention reflects a primary deficit in sustained attention or is secondary to the problem of behavioural inhibition.


Occurring along with the difficulty in sustained attention is a deficiency in inhibiting behaviour in response to situational demands, or in other words, ADHD children display age inappropriate impulsivity. This results in impetuous, unthinking behaviour and children who do not learn from their experiences. Similar to inattentiveness, impulsivity is also multidimensional in nature, and it is difficult to delineate the specific areas that are problematic for ADHD children (Milich and Kramer, 1985). Observations of ADHD children indicate that they have difficulty weighing the consequences of their actions before acting and do not reasonably consider the consequences of their past behaviour. They frequently respond before directions have been completed and before they have an opportunity to assess fully the demands of the situation. ADHD children are more inclined to engage in dangerous behaviour and accept dares from their peers. Consequently, accidental poisonings and injuries are not uncommon, and ADHD children may carelessly damage or destroy other's property much more frequently than their nonADHD peers. Waiting in line, taking turns, working toward longer-term goals are all extremely difficult for ADHD children. It is not surprising that ADHD children often elicit negative consequences from their peers and parents (Barkley, 2006).

The problem of impulsivity is often scientifically defined as a pattern of rapid, inaccurate responding, to tasks such as Kagan's Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT; Kagan, 1966). Most often, it is their number of errors rather than the speed of responding that is different from normal children (Brown and Quay, 1977). Impulsivity may also refer to poor sustained inhibition of responding, poor delay of gratification, or impaired ability to respond to commands or the inability to respond to the demands of a social situation (Gordon, 1979 and Rapport et al., 1986).

Research findings support the notion that behavioural disinhibition, or the inability to inhibit a response, is in fact the hallmark of ADHD. Studies typically have shown that it is not inattention that distinguishes ADHD children from children with other clinical disorders or from normal children as much as it is their hyperactive, impulsive, and disinhibited behaviour (Barkley, 2006; and Barkley et al., 1990). Barkley (2006) adds that he feels the evidence available is sufficient to allow us to conclude that behavioural disinhibition may in the attention difficulties seen in these children.


ADHD children are often described their parents as Always on the go, Climbs on everything, and Never stops talking. In the classroom these children are frequently out of their seat, playing with their materials, talking without permission, and generally seeming to not pay attention to the instructional activities (Barkley et al., 1990 and Stewart et al., 1966).

However it has not been shown that hyperactivity distinguishes ADHD from other clinic-referred groups of children (Firestone and Martin, 1979; Sandberg et al., 1978 and Shaffer et al., 1974). Taylor suggest that it may be the pervasiveness of the hyperactivity across settings, at home and at school, that separates ADHD from other diagnostic categories (Taylor, 1986). Barkley (2006) points out that studies of objective measures of behaviour ratings of hyperactivity have usually not found that it forms a separate factor or dimension apart from impulsivity. He goes on to note that studies that factor-analyze behavioural ratings often find that items of restlessness load on a factor comprising primarily poor attention and organization, while other types of overactivity load on a factor constituting impulsive or disinhibited behaviour. It appears that this factor, not that of inattention, is what best distinguishes ADHD from other clinical conditions and from the normal state. Barkley offers the following consensus definition of ADHD:

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a developmental disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, overactivity, and impulsivity. These often arise in early childhood; are relatively chronic in nature; and are not readily accounted for on the basis of gross neurological, sensory, language, or motor impairment, mental retardation, or severe emotional disturbance. These difficulties are typically associated with deficits in rule-governed behaviour and in maintaining a consistent pattern of work performance over time (Barkley, 2006, P.47)

Goldstein and Goldstein (1990) posit a common sense definition of ADHD to facilitate a practical understanding of the means by which this population of children interacts with their environment. The definition is based upon the hypotheses of Douglas and Peters (1979) and Douglas (1985). From a common sense perspective, children with ADHD do not pay attention well to boring, repetitive activities, those that require effort, and those that are not of their choosing; become more easily aroused emotionally and physically; do not permit enough time to think before acting; and appear to require more immediate frequent, predictable and salient reinforcers than their peers. Further, the ADHD group of children often precipitates a negative, reinforcing paradigm with the adults in their lives. Thus, they learn to work to avoid bad consequences rather than to earn good consequences.


In addition to the primary difficulties with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, children with ADHD are more likely to have difficulties in other areas such as intellectual development, academic difficulties, adaptive functioning, speech and language, sensory and motor functions, and social and emotional development. These problems are considered associated features because although they are neither necessary nor sufficient for a diagnosis of ADHD, they occur in more often in children with ADHD than in normal children (Barkley, 2006).

Intellectual development:

As a group, children and adolescents with ADHD obtain lower scores than normal children on various of cognitive ability (Barkley, 2006). On standardized measures of intelligence, children with ADHD score on average 7 to 15 points below both normal children and their own siblings (Barkley, 2006). It is unclear whether this difference represents actual differences in cognitive ability, differences in the effects of the disorder on test-taking behaviour, or the possible interaction of learning disabilities which are higher among children with ADHD than among either comparison group. Specific cognitive deficits seen in children with ADHD include deficits in verbal and nonverbal working memory and planning ability, impairment in the sense of time, and a reduced sensitivity to errors (Barkley, 2006). Finally, even though as a group ADHD children score lower than normal children on tests of cognitive ability, the range of cognitive functioning is normally distributed, with some children with ADHD falling below average and some falling above average and in gifted range (DuPaul and Stoner, 1994).

Academic difficulties:

It has been estimated that up to 80% of children with ADHD have some type of learning or achievement problems. These included grade retention and/or underachievement (Frick and Lahey, 1991; Semrud-Clikeman et al., 1992). Although it is true that a certain percentage of students with ADHD also have coexisting learning disabilities (which will be discussed in more detail in the section on comorbidities), the academic difficulties experienced by students with ADHD are more general and may be primarily the result of ADHD symptoms, and not the result of coexisting learning disabilities (Zentall, 1993). DuPaul and Stoner, (1994) delineated several ADHD characteristics that might interfere with learning and academic achievement:

1. Low rate of on-task behaviour by the students resulting in fewer opportunities for teacher feedback to work produced and less practice time during independent seatwork.

2. Difficulty in sustaining attention to effortful tasks leading to incomplete and/or inconsistent work performance.

3. Inattention resulting in not understanding directions, poor test performance; deficient study skills; disorganized notebooks, desks, and written reports; and lack of attention to teacher lectures and/or group discussions (P.4).

Adaptive functioning:

Generally, adaptive behaviour can be defined as the skills that are necessary to take care of oneself and get along with others (Harrison and Robinson, 1995, P.819). measuring adaptive functioning involves assessing behaviour from several specific domains, including self-help skills, interpersonal/socialization skills, communication skills, physical and motor skills, and vocational/occupational skills. In a review of the literature, Barkley (2006) found that children with ADHD often have impaired adaptive functioning. This impairment goes beyond what is found in the impairment in intellectual functioning, suggesting that the symptoms of ADHD have a specific detrimental impact to adaptive functioning.

Speech and language:

According to Barkley (2006) although ADHD is not associated with a high rate of serious or generalized language delays (P. 101), it is associated with some specific speech and language difficulties. For example, up to 35% of those with ADHD experienced a delayed onset of language. In addition, 10% to 54% experience speech impairments. Furthermore, their speech is often excessive in conversational situations, reduced in confrontational situations, poorly organized, and inefficient.

Motor difficulties:

Children with ADHD are more likely to have poor motor coordination than are normal children (Barkley, 2006). This may result in behaviour that is termed clumsy as well as in difficulty with fine motor skills such as handwriting (Selikowitz, 1995).

Social impairments:

Children and adolescents with ADHD also often experience difficulty with social relationships (Johnsto et al., 1985). Landau and Moore (1991) estimate that over half of the children diagnosed with ADHD experience peer rejection and have difficulty establishing satisfying peer relationships. According to Barkley (2006) mothers, teachers, and peers all report hyperactive children to be significantly more aggressive, disruptive, domineering, intrusive, noisy, and socially rejected than normal children, especially if they are male hyperactives (P.83). Moreover, a significant portion of children with ADHD exhibit aggressive antisocial behaviours with estimates ranging from 30% to 90% (Barkley, 2006; DuPaul and Stoner, 1994 and Hinshaw, 1992). Clearly, these behaviours can interfere with establishing and maintaining satisfactory peer relationships.

Emotional characteristics:

Poor self-regulation is also a difficulty for with ADHD. Research has documented overaroused behaviour in association with rewards and problems with frustration tolerance. Common terms to describe children with ADHD include irritable, hostil and excitable. Indeed, children with ADHD are often more negative and emotional in their interactions with peers. It is not surprising then that low self-esteem is more common in children with ADHD than in their normal peers (Barkley, 2006).


Typically, the cluster of problems presented by ADHD children is somewhat homogeneous, even though each child's presentation will be unique in some areas. When evaluating ADHD children, the developmental stage is an essential consideration in order to be aware of how a similar problem or behaviour will present differently at different maturational levels.


Carey (1970) and Thomas and Chess (1977) have completed extensive research in the area of childhood temperament. As a result of this research, they have been able to describe a pattern of temperamental or innate qualities that children seem to have at birth. These qualities affect their ability to accommodate and meet the environment's expectations. Additionally, these qualities play a role in determining the manner in which the environment responds to the child. Approximately 10% of the population involved in these studies were described as having a difficult temperament (Thomas and Chess, 1977). These children tended to withdraw in a negative manner from new stimulation, and they had problems with changes in routines. They tended to present with significantly greater negative as opposed to positive mood and had intense reactions to events in their environment. As many as 70% of this difficult infant population developed problems at school age. In a temperament study of slightly older children, three-years-olds were identified using the criteria of negative mood and intense reaction. This population was followed for five years. At that point, all those children were experiencing school-related problems (Terestman, 1980). This population typically has a very high activity level, a very different pattern of crying, and sleep pattern similar to premature infants (Ross and Ross, 1982; Wolff, 1969).

Hartsough and Lambert (1985) found that a significant degree of pre- and perinatal medical factors discriminated between a group of ADHD and control children. Palfrey et al (1985) found similar results. Barkley (2006) writes certain neonatal and infancy variables have been studied for their association with ADHD. Those variables included delayed motor development, smaller head circumference at birth and at 12 months of age, meconium staining, neonatal nerve damage, primary apnea, and low birth weight, among others, were found by Nichols and Chen (1981). The early emergence of excessive activity level, short time spans of responding to objects, low persistence of pursuing objects with which to play, high intensity of response, and demandingness in infancy are more often found in ADHD than in normal or other clinical control groups of children (Barkley et al., 1990; Hartsough and Lambert, 1985). These factors also predict the persistence of these behavioural problems into the preschool years (Campbell, 1990 and Palfrey et al, 1985).


Several studies suggest that preschoolers are likely to be rated as inattentive and overactive by their parents (Barkley, 2006). Palfrey et al. (1985) conducted a follow-up study of children from birth to second grade and found that by age 4 years, up to 40% of ADHD preschoolers had significant problems with inattention to a degree that teachers and parents had strong concerns. However, this and other studies (Campbell, 1990) have shown that the majority of these concerns fade within 3 to 6 months. Even among those children whose problems may be sever enough to be given a clinical diagnosis of ADHD, only 48% will have this same diagnosis by later childhood or early adolescence. These results would suggest that significant inattention and overactivity by age 3 to 4 years, in isolation, are not indicative of a persistent pattern of ADHD into later childhood or adolescence. Palfrey et al (1985) noted that approximately 5% of their total sample of children, or about 10% of those with parent and teacher concerns about inattention, eventually developed a persistent inattention that was predictive of behaviour problems, low academic achievement, and need for special educational services by second grade. Campbell's (1990) research also showed that among difficult-to-manage 3-year-olds, those whose problems continued to exist by age 4 years were much more likely to be considered clinically hyperactive, and to have difficulties with their hyperactivity as well as conduct problems, by ages 6 and 9 years.

Although some choose to see early symptoms of ADHD as transient problems of young children, some research data suggest that ignoring these signs result in the loos of valuable treatment time. At least 60% to 70% of children later diagnosed as ADHD could have been identified by their symptoms during the preschool years (Cohen et al., 1981). Young children manifesting ADHD symptoms present with greater than chance speech and language problems (Baker and Cantwell, 1987) and develop a wide range of behavioural problems (Cantwell et al., 1981 and Cohen et al., 1989). Further, current research suggests that the comorbidity of speech and language disorders and ADHD is so strong that any child seen for suspected ADHD should be routinely screened for language, especially during the younger years. Children with concurrent ADHD and language disorder appear to have a poorer prognosis than those with ADHD alone (Baker and Cantwell, 1992).

To a large part the degree of ADHD symptoms determine which children are likely to show a chronic course of their ADHD symptoms throughout later development. Barkley (2006) suggests that the duration of 6 months for symptoms of ADHD recommended by DSM-IV is inadequate for preschoolers. A duration of 12 months would seem to be more appropriate when making predictions about the stability of ADHD behavioural patterns in preschool-age children.

Barkley (2006) writes that children with this stable pattern of ADHD behaviours in this age group are described by their parents as restless, always up and on the go, acting as if driven by a motor, and frequently climbing on and getting into things. Incidence of accidental injury is high among this group due to their overactive, inattentive, impulsive, and often fearless pattern of behaviour. They are described as being persistent in their wants, demanding of parental attention, and often insatiable in their curiosity about their environment (Barkley, 2006). In preschool or day care setting, these children are characterized by being out of their seats, wandering the classroom inappropriately, disrupting the play activities of other children, excessively demanding during peer interactions and especially vocally noisy and talkative (Campbell et al., 1978; Campbell et al., 1977 and Schleifer et al., 1975). It is not uncommon for the parents of these children to relate several instances where their child has been kicked out of preschool or day care. Other ADHD children, especially those who are not oppositional or aggressive, who are milder in their level of ADHD, or who are intellectually brighter, may have few or no difficulties with the demands of a typical day care or preschool program (Barkley, 2006).

Middle childhood:

Barkley (2006) writes that once ADHD children enters the school system, a major social burden is placed upon them that will last at least for the next 12 years of their lives, will be the major area of impact from their handicapping condition, and will create the greatest source of distress for many of them and their parents. School settings are requiring the very skills that the ADHD child lacks, such as sitting still, attending, listening, obeying, inhibiting impulsive behaviour, cooperating, organizing action, and following through on instructions, as well as sharing, playing well, and interacting pleasantly with other children. These behaviours and skills are essential to negotiating a successful academic career beyond those cognitive and achievement skills needed to master the academic curriculum (Barkley, 2006).

Barkley (2006) notes that academic achievement, particularly in the area of reading for the 20% to 25% of ADHD children likely to have a reading disorder, becomes a source of difficulty during this developmental period. Even those without a comorbid learning disability will be troubled by their highly erratic educational performance over time. Disorganized desks, lockers and notebooks are highly characteristic of these children. Typically, this lack of organization forces others to step in periodically and reorganize their materials to attempt to facilitate better academic performance (Barkley, 2006).

During middle childhood, the parents of ADHD children often complain that these children do not accept household chores and responsibilities as well as other children their age. They appear to need greater supervision and assistance in order to accomplish these daily chores and self-care activities, such as bathing and dressing. Relations with siblings may also be a more difficult area and because they require more attention from their parents, siblings may express jealousy toward an ADHD child. Social situations, such as clubs, music lessons, and sports may also be a challenging situation for the ADHD child and his/her parents (Barkley, 2006).

Barkley (2006) points out that an emerging pattern of social rejection will have appeared by now, if not earlier, in over half of all ADHD children because of the poor social skills. Roee and Ross (1982) write that even when an ADHD child displays appropriate or prosocial behaviour toward others; it may be at such a high rate or intensity that is elicits rejection by and avoidance of the child in subsequent situations, or even punitive responses from his or her peers. Of course, for the ADHD child, this can be quite confusing. As later childhood approaches, it is common to find many ADHD children developing feelings of low self-esteem about their school and social abilities. Yet their tendency is to place the blame for these difficulties on their parents, teacher, or peers because of their limited self-awareness (Barkley, 2006).

By later childhood and preadolescence, at least 30% to 50% of ADHD children will likely develop symptoms of CD and antisocial behaviour (Barkley et al., (1991). The behaviours most commonly exhibited are lying, petty thievery, and resistance to the authority of others. At least 25% or more may have problems with fighting with other children. Bragging or boasting about fictitious accomplishments and in some cases truancy from school may also be seen. ADHD children who have not developed some comorbid psychiatric, academic, or social disorder by this age will be in the minority (Barkley, 2006). The majority (60% to 80%) of the ADHD children in this age will have been placed on a trial of stimulant mediation, and over half will have participated in some type of individual and family therapy (Barkley et al., 1990 and Fischer, et al., 1990). Barkley (2006) adds that approximately 30% to 45% will also be receiving formal special educational assistance for their academic difficulties by the end of sixth grade.

Children with ADHD are of particular interest when attempting to understand the roots of aggressive and antisocial behaviour patterns, particularly the subgroup of youngsters who progress to the persistent display of antisocial behaviour (Moffitt, 1993). Hinshaw et al (1995) write that psychometric distinction between overt and covert antisocial behaviours has a long history in empirical research. The meta-analytic review of Loeber and Schmaling (1985) reaffirmed this division, with such aggressive actions as physical fighting, bullying, and defiance constituting one end of a bipolar scale and the clandestine actions of stealing, lying, destroying property, firesetting, truancy, and substance abuse constituting the other. Non-compliance lies at the midpoint of the overt-covert continuum.

The progression from oppositional defiant disorder to conduct disorder in middle childhood is marked by the display of the covert behaviors of lying and petty stealing (Hinshaw et al., 1993). Despite the well-documented predictability of later antisocial behaviour patterns from early aggression (Huesmann et al., 1984 and Lilienfeld and Waldman, 1990), childhood attention deficits and hyperactivity predict later antisocial patterns and delinquency even when childhood rates of oppositionality and aggression are statistically controlled (Farrington et al., 1990; Moffitt, 1993 and Satterfield et al., 1993). In deed, ADHD persistent is a strong risk factor for development of delinquent behaviours during the middle childhood years (Klein and Mannuzza, 1991). One factor underlying this finding may relate to the high rates of impulsivity in the symptom picture during this developmental period (Barkley, 1994; White et al., 1994).


Follow-up research studies over the past decades have supported the hypothesis that even though the primary characteristics of ADHD may diminish in their intensity (Weiss and Hechtman, 1979), adolescents continue to experience significant difficulty (Milich and Loney, 1979). These studies have consistently shown that many children continue to exhibit the core of ADHD symptoms to a significant degree through adolescence and into adulthood (Brown and Borden, 1986; Thorley, 1984 and Weiss and Hechtman, 1993).

Barkley, Fischer, Edelbrock, and Smallish, (1990) conducted a detailed follow-up study of a large group of ADHD children and normal children, in which the authors followed these children for eight years. The results of this study are consistent with those of most other adolescent outcome studies in finding hyperactive children to be at substantially higher risk for negative outcomes in the areas of psychiatric, social, legal, academic, and family functioning than a control group of normal children followed concurrently (Brown and Borden, 1986; Thorley, 1984; Weiss and Hechtman, 1993).

Other studies report that as many as a third of ADHD adolescents are suspended from school at least once (Ackerman et al., 1977) with approximately 80% falling behind at least one or more years in one or more basic academic subjects (Loney et al., 1981). Further, adolescents with histories of ADHD appear at greater risk to develop internalizing problems, including anxiety or depression (Goldstein and Goldstein, 1990).

Unlike the previous outcome studies, the study conducted by Barkley et al. (1990, 1991) found a substantially greater number of hyperactive children with negative outcomes in a majority of these areas. They found rates of continuing pathology to be higher than 68% having ADHD at some time since age 13 years. The rates found by Barkley et al. (1990; 1991) are equal to those found in the Mendelson et al (1971) retrospective study, in which between 71% and 84% of the subjects continued to manifest the symptoms of overactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Barkley (2006) writes that when rigorous criteria are used to diagnose children as hyperactive or ADHD. He select a group of children whose symptom deviance remains highly stable over time, such as 8 years, with the vast majority of them, over 80% continuing to have this disorder into adolescence.


Research investigating the potential predictors of adult outcome in a prospectively followed group of ADHD children suggest that predictors of adolescent outcome are useful in predicting adult outcome as well (Weiss and Hechtman, 1993). The emotional adjustment of ADHD adults was related to the emotional climate of their homes, particularly the mental health of family members, in childhood and to the emotional stability and intelligence of the ADHD subjects themselves. Emotional stability was defined in terms of level of aggression. Friendships in ADHD adults were also related to the early emotional climate of the home (Weiss and Hechtman, 1993).

Academic attainment was best predicted by a combination of factors, these being childhood intelligence, hyperactivity, child-rearing practices, and the emotional climate of the home. The employment functioning of these ADHD adults was significantly related to their childhood intelligence estimates and their relationships with adults (Barkley, 2006).

Antisocial behaviours at an early age were associated with a greater number of firings from jobs, and in combination with earlier hyperactivity and relationships with adults, was significantly associated with general work record as rated by current employers. The probability of committing criminal offences in adulthood was most strongly associated with childhood emotional instability or aggression, and to a lesser degree with intelligence, hyperactivity, mental health of family members, emotional climate in the home, and parental overprotectiveness in child rearing. These same factors were associated with the likelihood of later nonmedical drug use (Barkley, 2006). It is unlikely that focusing on either of these areas to the exclusion of the others, would prove useful in predicting the adult adjustment of ADHD individuals.

In summary, Mannuzza et al. (1991) suggest that ADHD children, as adults, do not appear to be at significantly greater risk for developing any disorder other than antisocial problems and substance abuse. They found in a young adult population with a history of ADHD that 43% still manifested a full syndrome of ADHD symptoms, 32% met the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder and 10% were involved in substance abuse. Elsewhere, it has been shown that ADHD adults have greater risks of internalizing, marital and vocational problems (Biederman et al., 1987 and Biederman et al., 1987).


The rate of comorbidity of ADHD with other psychiatric disorder is impressive. Barkley (2006) estimated that by the time children with ADHD reach preadolescence, 40-60% have developed Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and between 25-40% have symptoms of Conduct Disorder (CD). Furthermore, he reported 20-36% children with ADHD have a major affective disorder, and 27-30% have an anxiety disorder.

August et al (1996) found that among a sample of 318 children in the first through fourth grades who screened positive for cross-setting disruptive behaviour and were subsequently diagnosed as having ADHD by DSM-III-R criteria, 61% received more than one additional psychiatric diagnosis. In this sample, a child was more likely to ODD, CD, a mood disorder, or an anxiety disorder in the presence of ADHD than in its absence. Among those diagnosed with ADHD: 12% received the additional diagnosis of CD; 32% received the additional diagnosis of ODD, 30% received the additional diagnosis of a mood disorder; and 34% of those diagnosed with ADHD received the additional diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. A substantial proportion had more than two comorbid psychiatric diagnoses. Caution should be exercised in generalizing these results to all elementary students. The subjects were first screened for cross-setting disruptive behaviour; thus, the obtained rates of comorbidity may have been inflated. Further limiting generalization of these finding is that these subjects were suburban and predominantly Caucasiam.

Nevertheless, similar high rates of comorbidity of ADHD with other psychiatric disorders were found in a large-scale study by Bird, Gould, and Staghezza in 1993. In this analysis of two hundred twenty-two children aged nine through sixteen, of those diagnosed with ADHD, 35.7% were given the additional diagnosis of CD or ODD, 22% were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and 47.9% were diagnosed with depression. Moreover, Szatmari et al (1989) found that in a sample of ADHD children, 44% had at least one other psychiatric disorder, 32% had two other psychiatric disorders, and 11% had at least three other disorders.

When ODD and/or CD coexist with ADHD, studies have shown that the correlated features and outcome of the disorder are altered (Barkley, 2006 and Kuhne et al., 1997). Kuhne, et al (1997) found that among clinically referred children diagnosed with ADHD, those with comorbid oppositional or conduct problems evidenced more severe symptoms of ADHD as well as greater social dysfunction. In addition, those with comorbid CD had higher levels of aggression and anxiety and decreased self-esteems than those with ADHD alone. Those with comorbid ODD actually had higher academic competence and achievement than children with only ADHD, a finding that was not reported in previous literature. Limitations of this study include the small number of ADHD+CD subjects (n=12) which limited the statistical power for further differentiating this group from the others. Furthermore, the study was cross-sectional, and consequently the development and order of symptom presentation could not be determined.

The literature on the comorbidity between ADHD and learning disabilities (LD) is extensive. However, because of varying, and sometimes overlapping definitions of both learning disabilities and ADHD, the exact rate of comorbidity is difficult to establish (Bender, 1998; Biederman et al., 1991). In one review of the literature, Lerner, et al. (1995) reported estimates of coexisting learning disabilities in samples of youth with ADHD ranging from 9% to 63% with a best guess estimation of 25%. DuPaul and Stoner, (1994) in another review of this literature stated that the prevalence rates of learning disabilities have from 7% to 92% with an average of 31%. Therefore, approximately one in every three or four students with ADHD also has a learning disability. Therefore, it appears that children with ADHD are roughly three to four times more likely to exhibit learning disabilities than their peers are (DuPaul and Stoner, 1994, P.70). These facts support the inclusion of at least screening for learning problems for every referral of possible ADHD.

Finally, language disorders are found more often in children with ADHD than in children without ADHD (Riccio and Hynd, 1993). In their review article, Riccio and Hynd (1993) estimated this comorbidity to range from 10% to 59%. He argued that school psychologists should screen for language disorders every time they receive a referral for possible ADHD.

The issue of comorbidity of ADHD with other disorders is important to professionals (such as teachers and school psychologists) and should be considered during screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Clearly, if they are unaware of the high rate of comorbidity of ADHD with other disorders, they may not be adequately screening for the existence of other disorders when given the referral for possible ADHD. In addition, behaviours that may initially point to ADHD may actually be symptoms of other disorders. Therefore, because of the moderate to high rate of comorbidity of ADHD with learning disabilities and/or emotional and behavioural disorders and the importance of accurate differential diagnosis, it has been argued that appropriate screening instruments be included as part of a comprehensive assessment for ADHD (McKinney et al., 1993).


Genetic factors:

The suspicion of a genetic component to ADHD was initially based on the observation that many parents of children with ADHD reported they, or their other children, had a positive history of ADHD symptoms. It is estimated that 15% to 20% of mothers and 20% to 30% of fathers have or may have had ADHD in the past (Alberts-Corush et al., 1986; Barkley, 2006; and Singer et al., 1981). It has also been reported that 26% of the siblings of children with ADHD also have the disorder (Barkley, 2006). Several early small sample twin studies provided empirical evidence to confirm genetic transmission of ADHD (Cunningham and Barkley, 1978; Lopez, 1965; Willerman, 1973). Based on these findings, larger scale twin studies were conducted. Goodman and Stevenson (1989) examined the heritability of hyperactivity among 127 monozygotic and 111 dizygotic twin pairs. Concordance rates for diagnosed hyperactivity was 51% for monozygtic twins and 33% for dizygotic twins. These investigators estimated heritability for the traits of ADHD to be 30% to 50%. A more recent twin study using regression analysis has further supported that attention and hyperactive symptoms appear to be highly heritable (Gillis et al., 1992).

In his review of the literature, Barkley (2006) concludes that heredity appears to play the largest role in the occurrence of ADHD. He believes that what may be transmitted genetically is a tendency toward dopamine depletion in, or underactivity of, the prefrontal-striatal-limbic regions of the brain, which may then be exacerbated by various biological and environmental factors.

Researchers have identified genes in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia that are associated with ADHD (Fine, 2001). They are likely to be the ones that regulate and transport dopamine, one of the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters that help deliver messages from one nerve cell to another (P.29).

The main objective of genetic research is to develop testing that will accurately identify ADHD. Research may also uncover other genes associated with the disorder and eventually help doctors determine accurate doses of medication (Fine, 2001).

Neurological factors:

The connection between ADHD and neurological involvement has been studied since Still lectured in 1902 (Barkley, 2006). Technological advances have allowed more sophisticated analysis of the brain, and scientists assert that in the next five to 10 years, they will be able to use brain scans and brain imaging to diagnose children with ADHD (Fine, 2001, P.27).

Castellanos found that the right prefrontal cortex and two basal ganglia are significantly smaller in children with ADHD than in those without it (as cited in Fine, P.27). these areas of the brain are associated with the regulation of attention and impulse control.

Schweitzer studied the brains of adult men with and without ADHD as they performed mathematical tasks those with ADHD made inefficient use of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain used to remember numbers. They had trouble keeping old information in mind while new information [was] being given to them (as cited in Fine, P.27). Schweitzer theorized that students with ADHD may blurt out answers because they are afraid of forgetting their thought.

The first study using a brain mapping technique called Positron Emission Tomographic (PET) scans was conducted by Zametkin et al. in 1990 (Gordon and Asher, 1994). This landmark study measured the rate at which glucose, associated with cognitive activity, was metabolized in the brains of adults with and without ADHD. Adults with had reduced levels of glucose metabolism as compared to undiagnosed adults when performing mental tasks involving attention, concentration, and inhibition of movement. These finding dispelled the myth that ADHD was caused by an overactive brain and suggested that individuals with the disorder suffered from underarousal in the frontal area of the brain. Additionally, Zametkin's research gave credence to the neurological basis for ADHD (Bender, 1998; Gordon and Asher, 1994).


Parent characteristics:

Poor parenting is perhaps, the most controversial environmental theory associated with ADHD (Ingersoll, 2006). Some researchers claim that hyperactivity is the result of poor parental management of children (Barkley, 1990, P. 103). Reid et al (1994) suggested that ADHD, like the LD label that preceded it, is a pill much easier for parents to swallow than being told their child's problems resulted from a deprived environment (P. 208). However, as early as 1902, Still argued against the theory that poor parenting skills caused ADHD. Barkley (2006) summarized Still's findings:

Although a chaotic family life was reported in many children, many others came from households with seemingly adequate upbringing. In fact, still believed that cases where poor child rearing was clearly involved should be exempt from this category, and that it should be reserved for children who displayed a morbid failure of moral control despite training. (P.5)

Over the span of the past several decades, investigators have found higher incidences of psychopathology other than ADHD, among biological relatives of children with ADHD when compared to the families of children without ADHD or the adoptive parents of children with ADHD (Edwards et al., 1995). Parents of children with ADHD have been reported to be more likely to have a history of numerous problems including antisocial behaviour, alcoholism, and learning disabilities (Morrison, 1980; Singer et al., 1981). A higher prevalence of affective disorders, especially depression, has also been reported for parents and siblings of children with ADHD 27-32% as compared to controls at 6% (Biederman et al., 1990; Biederman et al., 1987). Additionally, mothers of ADHD children have been reported to have significantly lower levels of parenting self esteem and engage in more self-blame and social isolation than mothers of children without ADHD (Mash and Johnston, 1983).

Other studies suggest that the higher rates of antisocial behaviour, affective disorders, and substance abuse among parents of children with ADHD are accounted for primarily by the children with both ADHD and conduct problems. In other words, children with ADHD who display little or no aggressive or oppositional behaviour are more likely to have parents with a much lower incidence of these mental health problems (Biederman et al., 1987; Frick et al., 1991; Lahey et al., 1988; Lilienfeld and Waldman, 1990; Moffitt, 1990; Stewart et al., 1980; Szatmari et al., 1989). Children with ADHD and no conduct problems are more likely to have relatives with ADHD or learning problems, whereas children with conduct problems are more likely to relatives with conduct disorder, antisocial behaviour, substance abuse, depression, and marital dysfunction (Biederman et al.; 1987; Lahey, et al.; 1988).

Johnston studied the behaviours of parents of children with ADHD, without ADHD, and with ADHD comorbid with ODD. No differences were found in parent behaviors across groups (as cited in Lensch, 2000).

There continues to be support for both sides of the argument. Barkley (2006) reported the following:

... the overly critical, commanding, and negative behaviour of mothers of hyperactive children is most likely a reaction to the difficult, disruptive, and noncompliant behaviour of these children rather than a cause of it. This is not to say that the manner in which parents attempt to manage their children's ADHD behaviour cannot exacerbate it or serve to maintain higher levels of conflict between mothers and children over time. (P.104)

Family functioning:

Families of children with ADHD have been reported to have difficulties in various aspects of functioning (Edwards et al., 1995). Studies in this area tend to examine either broad areas of family functioning or specific parent-child interactions. Studies examining broad areas of functioning have found that parents of children with ADHD report experiencing significantly more stress, feelings of parental incompetence, and marital discord than parents of children without ADHD (Fischer et al., 1990). In regard to marital discord, Barkley and colleagues found in an 8-year follow-up study that biological parents of children with ADHD were three times more likely to separate or divorce than parents of children without ADHD (54% vs. 15%) (Barkley et al., 1990, 1991). Families of children with ADHD also tend to be more socially isolated (Mash and Johnston, 1983). This isolation is significant because research indicated that mothers who are more isolated also tend to be more punitive toward their problem children (Dumas and Wahler, 1985).

Although many problems within the broad area of family functioning, such as those just described, have been reported to be associated with ADHD, it has not been determined that these findings are specific to ADHD or represent problems associated with having a child with a mental health disorder in general. Also unclear is that extent to which problems with family functioning are related to ADHD symptomatology versus conduct problems. It must be considered that a significant amount of the variance of parenting stress in families of children with ADHD is accounted for by the children's aggressive/oppositional behaviour (Anastopoulos et al., 1992). Furthermore, most of the studies do not allow for a determination of the direction of causality regarding family functioning and children with ADHD due to their research design. Further research is needed in order to clearly delineate these issues.

Regarding specific parent-child interactions, several studies have found a number of differences in mother-child interactions with children with ADHD compared to normal controls. Mothers of children with ADHD have been reported to be more directive, and less responsive to child-initiated interactions (Barkley, Karlsson, and Pollard, 1985; Mash and Johnston, 1983; Webster-Stratton and Eyberg, 1982). Cunningham and Barkley, (1979) found that mothers of boys with ADHD issued twice number of commands to their children compared to mothers of boys with no mental health problems. In addition, they found that, following compliance, mothers of normal control children issued contingent reinforcement twice as often as mothers of boys with ADHD. Moreover, boys with ADHD were found to be less compliant across settings/tasks and be less likely to work or play independently as compared to the normal control group of boys. Another study examined the interactions of mothers with their sons with ADHD and their other sons without ADHD and found that boys with ADHD were more off-task, less compliant, and less responsive to their parent's questions (Tarver-Behring et al., 1985). In addition, the mothers tended to respond more positively to the compliance of their sons without ADHD.

Some evidence for the assertion that the commanding and controlling parenting behaviour is a result of the inattention and behaviour of children with ADHD is provided in the literature on the short-term effects of stimulant medications on social interactions. Typically, after the administration of stimulant medication, children with ADHD become more compliant and less negative, and parents and teachers become less directive and controlling (Fisher et al., 1990).

Families of children with ADHD are often impacted not only by the ADHD but by parental and sibling mental health problems and family dysfunction. These problems in family functioning are reflected both at the level of parent/child interactions and at a broader family level. Clinicians should be aware of these family characteristics because they may play a role in the parent's reporting of their child's behaviour, and because the identified problems within the family may need to be addressed in their own right. Clinicians should consider including measures of family and parental functioning in their assessment protocol (Barkley, 2006).

Food allergies:

In the 1960s, Feingold developed a diet that was free of artificial flavorings... (Armstrong, 1995, P.72). He claimed that up to 50% of the hyperactive children he worked with improved on his diet. The media gave Feingold's diet widespread attention in 1975 however, numerous studies over the next few years could not support his findings (Barkley, 2006). Barkley, (2006) noted the following:

While a small percentage (<10%) of preschool-age children may have shown a slight increase in activity or inattentiveness, no evidence was ever provided either that normal children can acquire ADHD by consuming such substances or that ADHD children are made considerably worse by them. (P.99)

Interest in the Feingold Diet diminished by the 1980s and was replaced by new concerns about food allergies and their possible connection to ADHD (Ingersoll, 1998). Rapp (1991) coined the phrase allergic tension fatigue syndrome (ATFS) and stated that children with ATFS have behavior and activity problems in school and at home. They are often thought to have attention deficit disorder (ADD) (P.327). According to Ingersoll (1998) Rapp's claims and methods lack scientific backing and are considered questionable by the scientific community in general and by pediatric allergists in particular (P. 74).


Smith popularized the notion that refined sugar caused hyperactivity (Barkley, 2006; Ingersoll, 1998). Although there was, and continues to be, no scientific proof for this contention, pediatricians began recommending low-sugar diets to treat hyperactivity and attention problems. Many professionals and laypeople continue to support the sugar/hyperactivity theory even though research findings do not justify eliminating sugar in the diets of ADHD children (Ingersoll, 1998, P. 74).

Lead toxicity (Plumbism):

Blondis and Chisolm (2000) reviewed the studies on lead toxicity (plumbism) and ADHD. Their first reference was to Byers and Lord who correlated lead poisoning with inattention, impulsivity, and underachievement in school. Needleman et al. found that inattentive and disruptive classroom behaviour measured by teacher questionnaires was higher in children with higher lead levels (P. 348). Winnecke et al. found that mothers reported distractibility, fidgeting and restlessness, and inability to sty on task in association with lead determined by booth lead levels (P. 348). Blondis and Chisolm's review also uncovered research that fond no connection between plumbism and ADHD.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS):

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a term coined by Jones and Smith in 1973, has been linked to numerous cognitive and behavioural problems (Clarren, 2000). Streissguth's longitudinal study found a correlation between increasing levels of alcohol and decreasing intelligence, fine and gross motor difficulties, and attentional problems (cited in Clarren, 2000).

Individuals with ADHD are more likely to drink as adolescents and young adults than those who are not diagnosed with disorder (Cherkes-julkowski et al., 1997). This predisposition to drinking may be due to genetically linked ADHD in both parent and child (P. 28) rather than to exposure to alcohol in utero.


Studies by Denson et al. and Streissguth et al. have documented a higher rate of smoking among mothers of children with ADHD than control children (as cited in Barkley, 2006). Longitudinal studies found that maternal cigarette smoking was significantly associated with the degree of hyperactivity and inattention in the children of those pregnancies (Nichols and Chen, 1981; Streissguth et al., 1984) (as cited in Barkley, 2006, P. 100). Barkley emphasized that these results are correlational in nature, and do not prove that smoking causes ADHD. Diagnosed individuals had higher incidences of smoking as adolescents and young adults than undiagnosed individuals (Cherkes-julkowski et al., 1997). This finding supports the genetic link between parents and children with ADHD, rather than smoking as the possible cause of the disorder.

Fluorescent lighting:

In the mid 1970s, a photographic engineer theorized that hyperactivity was caused by cool-whit fluorescent lighting (Barkley, 2006). The theory generated concern because public schools often use this lighting in classrooms. Results of a study by Mayron, Ott, Nations, and Mayron in 1974 supported the connection between cool-whit fluorescent lighting and hyperactivity (as cited in Barkley, 1990). In 1978, O'Leary, Rosenbaum, and Hughes conducted a methodologically sound study in an unsuccessful attempt to replicate those findings (as cited in Barkley, 2006). They theory quietly disappeared.


In recent years, John Rosemond and others have argued that too much television-watching causes ADHD (Barkley, 2006). The theory centers on the idea that watching television shortens the attention span. According to Barkley,

The greatest evidence against Rosemond's idea comes from twin studies that have found that the rearing environment that twins and siblings share growing up in the same family makes no significant contribution to the differences among children in their degree of ADHD symptoms. Television viewing is a part of that shared environment, so these studies indicate that too much television does not contribute to ADHD. (P. 82)

The controversy over etiology, or what causes ADHD, has not been resolved. It is an important issue because etiological beliefs affect attitudes toward prognosis, treatment options, and diagnosed individuals. The two primary philosophies deal with organic and non-organic origins. Those favoring organic causes believe that genetic differences are at the root of ADHD (Accardo and Blondis, 2000a). They support the use of medication and view the symptoms as non-volitional.

Those who question the existence of ADHD claim that parents and teachers embrace the organic explanation as a means of avoiding blame (Armstrong, 1995; Reid et al., 1994). They believe that environmental factors, such as child-rearing practices are the cause of ADHD (Ingersoll, 1998). The non-organic paradigm attracts individuals who oppose medication (O'Shea, 2000) and perceive the disorder as over-diagnosed (Calhoum et al., 1997).

When ADHD can be diagnosed with the use of objectively administered tests such as those used to identify other medical disorders, its etiology will no longer be the subject of debate. Until that time, controversy will continue to surround the nature of what actually causes the disorder.


The process of assessment is a critical factor in the diagnosis and treatment of any childhood behaviour disorder, and it is no less the case with diagnosis of ADHD. Given the current opinion that ADHD is a developmental disorder of attention span, impulse control, activity level, and rule-governed behaviour, that begins in early childhood, the assessment process must reflect both the developmental nature of the disorder and its complexity (Barkley, 2006).

Assessment of ADHD is far from clear-cut. There is no single diagnostic test for the disorder, and even if there were, obtaining a diagnosis is not the only purpose for such an evaluation (Barkley, 2006). Burcham and DeMers (1995) stated that the goal of assessment of ADHD

should not be restricted to answering the question of whether or not the student has ADHD. Rather, assessment should be linked to an ongoing evaluation of the student's needs, development of appropriate interventions, and measurement of the success of these interventions (P. 213)

According to Landau and Burcham (1995) this kind of problem-solving approach to assessment of students with ADHD includes the following for stages:

1. Problem identification stage: the child's strengths and challenges are identified through use of interviews, rating scales, and observations.

2. Problem analysis stage: the problem is analyzed in two ways. First, the child's weaknesses contributing to the problem are explored as are the child's strengths that can be used top help ameliorate the problems. This can be done using standardized assessment instruments as well as curriculum and performance based assessment. Second, factors external to the child that may be contributing to or maintaining his or her difficulties are explored. Consultation and in-depth interviewing of parents and teachers as well as behavioural observations may be used. An appropriate intervention and its implementation are planned.

3. Plan implementation stage: the focus of assessment is the integrity of the plan implementation which needs to be monitored for unforeseen difficulties or unintended consequences.

4. Problem evaluation stage: determine treatment efficacy. Again, interviews, rating scales, and observations could all be used. Of course, if plan objectives are not being met, then the problem analysis stage must be revisited.

In addition to this problem solving approach to assessment Landau and Burcham (1995) and Montague et al., (1994) have stressed the importance of including multiple methods of assessment and multiple sources of information over multiple settings. Multiple methods of assessment are particularly important in the assessment of ADHD because, as previously stated, there is no single diagnostic test for the disorder. In addition, it is important to rule out other possible explanations for the problem behaviour and to assess for any comorbid conditions. Furthermore, to address the goal of designing and monitoring effective intervention, multiple methods are necessary to assess the varying abilities, skills, and behaviours of interest. Multiple sources of information are important because of the unique perspectives of those who interact with the child or adolescent being referred. Assessing behaviours in multiple settings is important to determine the pervasiveness of the ADHD symptoms, as well as to address other possible causes for the symptoms. For example, if a student displays ADHD-like symptoms only in academic settings, it could be that learning problems, not ADHD, are to blame (DuPaul and Stoner, 1994).

Assessment techniques and instruments can be divided into the broad categories of interviews, behaviour rating scales, standardized tests, and observational measures. Barkley and Edwards (2006) have advocated the use of interviews and behaviour rating scales as the most important components (in addition to a medical examination) of a comprehensive evaluation for ADHD. They recommended interviewing parents, teachers, and the child or adolescent him or herself.

Behaviour rating scales:

Barkley and Edwards (2006) recommended using a variety of behaviour rating scales to a assess a wide range of behaviours as well as to obtain input from multiple sources such as parents, teachers, and the children or adolescents being referred.

In 1969, Conners developed parent and teacher rating scales to assess levels of hyperactivity (Barkley, 2006). Several scales have been developed to determine the presence of ADHD symptoms, and comorbid or co-existing conditions (Fowler, 1990; Gordon and Asher, 1994). Some scales were designed for teachers to complete; others were made for parents to fill out.

Rating scales are considered valuable by some researchers because they attempt to quantify the data collection process and to establish some measure of objectivity (Dowdy et al., 1997, P.65). Others find them lacking due to rater bias and vague rating criteria (Hagin and Deson, 2000). Experts in the field of ADHD research recommend that rating scales be used in conjunction with other assessment tools. It is unfortunate that they are often the only tool used to diagnose ADHD (Hagin and Deson, 2000).

DuPaul and Stoner, (1994) suggest that the referring teacher complete an instrument such as the Teachers Report Form of the Child Behavior Checklist (TRF-CBCL) developed by Achenbach. They further recommend that the teacher fill out additional scales addressing specific ADHD-related behaviours. Results should still be considered as only a part of the entire evaluative process.


An important part of the diagnostic process consists of structured interviews with parents, teachers, and the individual being assessed (Dowdy et ale., 1997). It is during the interview that parents and teachers reveal observations about the child's behaviour. Additionally, the interviewer makes observations about the teacher, parents, and child during the interviews. The two components are related and will, therefore, be discussed together.

During parent interviews, information is obtained in regard to the family's medical history, the child's behaviour at home, previous testing, school performance, and any other concerns that may have led to the referral (Dowdy et ale., 1997). Medical history includes information about the mother's health, use of medication, alcohol, cigarettes, and/or caffeine during pregnancy, and any complications during delivery (Barkley, 2006). The child's medical history outlines illnesses, ear infections, and/or surgeries during early childhood. The developmental history includes the age at which the child reached developmental milestones such as crawling, sitting up, walking, talking, and toilet-training (Barkley, 2006).

The teacher interview reveals the child's academic, behavioural, and social performance in the classroom (Dowdy et ale., 1997). Information is gathered regarding the child's work habits and ability to attend during instruction and independent seatwork. Questions concerning the presence or absence of behaviours associated with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and depression need to be asked as well (Barkley, 2000).

Teachers can be a vital source of information in the assessment of ADHD because they spend a good deal of time with students and have the opportunity to observe them in a variety of settings (Dowdy et ale., 1997). They are also able to identify behaviours considered inappropriate for a child's age and/or grade level. Additionally, teachers are more objective than parents in regard to accurately assessing a child's areas of difficulty (Dowdy et ale., 1997).

While the child interview can be a crucial part of the assessment process, Barkley (2006) cautions against placing too much emphasis on information obtained from it. First, the child's behaviour during the interview is often not representative of his or her typical behaviour. Children with ADHD usually behave more appropriately in one-on-one situations than they do in group settings. It is recommended that the examiner observe the child's behaviour in naturalistic surroundings such as the home or classroom to avoid missing an ADHD diagnosis. Second, research has shown that children are not particularly reliable in the reporting of information about themselves (Barkley, 2006, P. 249).

Although Barkley is a respected authority on ADHD, his review of assessment instruments was based upon their utility for diagnosis of ADHD and may not completely apply for most school teachers and psychologists whose goals of assessment include documenting current functioning and individual's strengths and weaknesses for treatment planning.

Continuous Performance Tests (CPTs):

Gordon and Barkley (2006) advocated using continuous performance tests because of their reliability in discriminating groups of ADHD from normal children (P.302) and their sensitivity to varing levels of psychostimulant medication. However, they asserted that there is not enough research on the various continuous performance tests available to fairly compare them.

The most common type of continuous performance test (CPT) asks that the child press a button when a specified letter, number, or other stimulus, appears on the computer screen (Guyer, 2000). The score indicates how frequently the child was able to choose correct responses (measure of attention) as well as avoid incorrect ones (measure of impulsivity). Researchers such as Douglas (1983) consider CPTs to be highly reliable. Others question their validity because they present a novel task and are administered one-on-one. Children with ADHD perform at their best under these two conditions and may therefore, not demonstrate typical classroom behaviour during a CPT. The Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) and the Gordon Diagnostic System (GDS) are two of the better know CPTs available to assist clinicians in the diagnostic process (Guyer, 2000).

Intelligence and academic tests:

The diagnosis of ADHD is not based on the results of intelligence and academic tests (Dowdy et al., 1997). Gordon and Barkley (2006) downplayed the importance of intelligence testing, reducing it's to determining cognitive factors that might contribute to a youngster's inattention and academic underachievement (P.298). They suggested that academic achievement tests are useful for detecting possible learning disabilities.

According to Dowdy et ale., (1997) intelligence and academic tests are also determine appropriate intervention Plans. A child with high intellectual functioning may benefit from self-monitoring and self-regulation techniques. Some behaviour contracts may also be more effectively implemented with children of higher cognitive abilities.

School records:

School records may offer evidence of ongoing symptoms of ADHD, specifically the type of behaviors noted and their frequency, degree, and duration (Dowdy et ale., 1997, P.43). Teacher notations can shed light on the impact of the child's behaviour on relationships with peers and adults. School records can facilitate future placement if it can be determined that the child was more successful with a particular teacher or teaching style (Dowdy et ale., 1997).

Physical exams:

Although there is no laboratory test for ADHD, a physical exam is used to rule out the existence of other disorders. A medical examination can also reveal an intolerance to commonly used ADHD medications (Dowdy et ale., 1997).


Treatment of ADHD includes medications, psychotherapy, and Parent training.


Bradley is credited with being the first to document the use of stimulant drugs with hyperactive children in 1937 (Barkley, 2006; Ingersoll, 1998). He reported that these central nervous system drugs had a calming effect on hyperactive children. When methylphenidate became available commercially in 1957, there was renewed interest in stimulant medication. By 1970, more than 150,000 children were taking stimulants to manage behaviours associated with ADHD (Barkley, 2006).

Stimulant medications are the most commonly used to treat children with ADHD (DuPaul et al., 2006). They act to raise the level of activity, arousal, or alertness of the central nervous system (DuPaul, et al., 2006, P.511). DuPaul and colleagues (2006) summarized the behavioural improvements often seen with the administration of stimulants including:

1. Increased sustained attention and persistence of effort to assigned tasks and reduced task-irrelevant restlessness and motor activity.

2. Decreased noisy and disruptive behaviours such as aggression, impulsive behaviour, and non-compliance to commands (which can lead to improved social interactions).

3. Enhanced performance on laboratory measures of vigilance, impulse control, fine-motor coordination, and reaction time.

4. Improved short-term memory and learning of paired verbal or nonverbal material.

5. Increased completion and accuracy of academic problems.

Despite these short-term improvements of performance while on medication, there is little evidence that the use of stimulants leads to greater academic success in the long-term (DuPaul et al., (1991). Furthermore, Barkley (2006) cautioned that the effects of stimulant medication are unique to each individual and the dosage necessary to obtain improvements is quite variable between individuals.

In general, empirical data consistently demonstrate the efficacy of the stimulants in improving behavioural, academic, and social functioning in about 50% to 95% of children treated, depending on the presence of comorbid psychiatric and/or developmental disorders (DuPaul, et al., 2006, P.510). However, for 20% to 30% of children there is either no positive response or even a negative response to stimulants. Summarizing responses to stimulant medication is complicated because some children may respond positively on some measures of learning and/or behaviour, but not respond or respond negatively on other measures. Furthermore, there are four commonly used stimulants, dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methylphenidate (Ritalin), magnesium pemoline (Cylert), and Adderall (a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), and treatment response may vary with the stimulant tried.

Stimulant medication is usually a physician's first choice for treatment of ADHD (Barkley, 2006). When a child dose not respond positively to stimulants, antidepressants can be effective alternatives. Tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramin (sold as Tofranil) last longer than stimulants and have a positive effect on mood and anxiety (Ingersoll, 1998). Although they reduce hyperactivity and aggression, antidepressants are less effective than stimulants in the improvement of attention.

Finally, there are other medications which are neither stimulants nor antidepressants which are being to treat ADHD in some cases (Connor, 2006). These medications (antihypertensive, anticonvulsant, and antipsychotic medications) have other established uses, but are being considered for individuals with ADHD who do not respond to stimulants or antidepressants, or who have comorbid disorders (Connor, 2006).

Monitoring responses to medication type and dosage is critical in successfully managing treatment for children with ADHD. DuPaul et al. (2006) recommended using multiple measures collected multiple settings, such as school and home. Specifically, they recommended teacher rating scales, parent rating scales, self-report rating scales, behavioural observations, measures of academic performance, and clinic-based tests such as the Conners Continuous Performance Test. DuPaul and Stoner, (1994) have provided specific guidelines on how to conduct an assessment of medication effects within the school for school psychologists.


The term psychotherapy encompasses a wide variety of methods and techniques aimed at helping people make changes in their attitudes, emotions, and behavior patterns (Ingersoll, 1998, P.105). In the 1980s, parents were advised to try every possible intervention, including psychotherapy, before turning to medication (Ingersoll, 1998). Today, it is well known throughout the medical community that medication is the most effective treatment for ADHD. Experts agree that psychotherapy does not eliminate the core symptoms of ADHD, however, it can benefit children with comorbid psychiatric conditions such as depression (Barkley, 2006; Ingersoll, 1998).

Numerous studies have investigated the use of behaviour modification for the treatment of children with ADHD (Barkley, 2006; Ingersoll, 1998). According to Barkley, behaviour techniques have been shown to manage inattentive and hyperactive behaviours to some extent, but they are not as effective as stimulant medication. He is careful to add that stimulant drugs should never be used as a sole intervention, but should be combined with parent training and behavioral intervention in the classroom (P.18)

Contingency management, also known as behaviour modification or behaviour therapy, is perhaps, the most well known type of intervention for children with ADHD (Ingersoll, 1998). It is the application and withholding of rewards and punishments to bring about desired changes in behaviour. Specific behaviours, such as task completion or hitting, are targeted and a plan is developed to either increase or decrease their frequency.

Contingency management is based on the work of Skinner who believed that behavior is affected most strongly by consequences that immediately follow the behavior (Ingersoll, 1998, P. 114). Desired behaviours should be reinforced while unacceptable behaviours should be followed by negative consequences. Behaviour therapists recommend point programs or token economy systems because they allow immediate consequences to follow a given behaviour.

The use of rewards to increase desired behaviour (positive reinforcement) has been documented to be effective in reducing activity level, increasing time on task, and improving academic performance of children with ADHD (Fiore et al., 1993). However, used alone, positive reinforcement is rarely sufficient to produce desired changes in children with ADHD. The addition of mildly aversive punishment, such as reprimands, improves efficacy of behaviour programs. Specifically, these mild corrections have proven effective in decreasing off-task behaviour and, to some extent, in increasing academic productivity (Fiore et al., 1993, P.165). Response cost, the withdrawal of a reward for misbehaviour, often in the form of tokens, is another effective behaviour modification technique. It has been shown to be effective in increasing attention to task and work completion. Finally, time-outs, or time away from potentially rewarding situations, is another technique that is sometimes effective in managing the behaviour of child with ADHD (Dawson, 1995).

DuPaul and Eckert, (1997) concluded from reviewing of the literature of the efficacy of various treatments for ADHD in school settings that contingency management program were more effective in improving classroom behaviour than were cognitive-behavioural interventions.

Cognitive-behavioural interventions include self-management interventions: self-monitoring, self-reinforcements, and self-instruction. These interventions were developed to increase self-control, which was thought to be lacking in children with ADHD (Pfiffiner and Barkley, 2006). Self-monitoring and self-reinforcement have found some success for children with ADHD and are the most promising of the self-management interventions, although the effects of these interventions are not as strong, as durable, or as generalizable as was once expected and are not superior to traditional behavioral programs (Pfiffiner and Barkley, 2006, P.479). Teaching self-instruction and problem-solving strategies has not shown positive results for children with ADHD (Pfiffiner and Barkley, 2006).

Parent training:

Parent training and counselling is sometimes an appropriate part of the overall treatment for children with ADHD. Parents can receive training in behaviour management techniques to help them manage their children's behaviour at home. In addition, as a result of the difficulties encountered as a parents of a child with ADHD, the parents may have developed secondary personal difficulties, such as sadness, frustration, guilt, stress, and marital strain which may be helped by counselling (Anastopoulos et al., 2006). Parent training and/or counselling is not appropriate for all parents, but may be warranted when medication either does not work or is an unacceptable option for parents. Parent training programs have resulted in positive changes in child behaviour and in parental and family functioning (Anastopoulos, et al., 2006). However, these changes do not generalize to improved academic performance for children with ADHD (Pfiffiner and Barkley, 2006).


After reviewing some facts about ADHD, including the symptoms and related characteristics, the developmental nature, the rate of comobidity, and effective treatments, it is informative to investigate some myths about ADHD. The most common myths and misconceptions about ADHD are listed below:

Myth 1: ADHD is a relatively new disorder.

Fact 1: documentation of children exhibiting common characteristics dates back to Still in 1902 (Schwean, et al., 1993).

Myth 2: because children with ADHD exhibit variability in performance, they could do better if only they tried harder.

Fact 2: the variability in performance among children with ADHD is well documented and has been found to be dependent upon environmental factors such as novelty and rates or rewards and punishments (Schwean, et al., 1993).

Myth 3: children outgrow ADHD by adolescence.

Fact 3: Longitudinal studies have confirmed that as many as 70%-80% of children diagnosed with ADHD have ongoing problems during adolescence that include overactivity, poor school performance, and behavioral problems at home (Richard, 2000, P.181). Although research has shown that the symptoms may change somewhat as a child develops, most children do not outgrow ADHD (Schwean, et al., 1993).

Myth 4: only a physician can diagnose ADHD.

Fact 4: best practice advocates a multidisciplinary approach to assessment and diagnosis (Schwean, et al., 1993).

Math 5: psychostimulant medication is the solution for children with ADHD.

Fact 5: medication may be part of the successful treatment program for many with ADHD, but it is not the only component (Schwean, et al., 1993).

Math 6: medication for ADHD is new, largely unproven over-prescribed, causes children to abuse drugs later in life, stunts growth, and turns children into zombies.

Fact 6: the benefits of stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD were first discovered by Bradley in 1937 (Barkley, 2006). Hundreds of studies have documented their safety and effectiveness (Green and Chee, 1998). Longitudinal studies that follow children with ADHD for 10 years or more have shown that the likelihood of substance abuse is increased when ADHD goes untreated (CHADD, 2000). Appetite suppression is one of the common side effects of stimulants however, permanent effects on growth hormones have been rare (Accardo and Blondis, 2000b). Finally, the goal of medication is not to turn the child into a zombie, but rather, to allow the child to function at his or her best. When medication has a severe sedative effect, many parents tend to abandon its use altogether instead of having the dosage adjusted and monitoring the child's progress at home and school (Accardo and Blondis, 2000b).

Myth 7: a medical diagnosis of ADHD must come before classroom interventions are implemented.

Fact 7: it is not necessary to wait for a diagnosis before implementing appropriate modifications (Lensch, 2000).

Myth 8: the behaviours attributed to ADHD are indistinguishable from those seen in completely normal children.

Fact 8: the symptoms that characterize ADHD are present in everyone to some degree, however, one bases the diagnosis of ADD not on the mere presence of these symptoms, but on their severity and duration, and the extent to which they interfere with everyday life (Hallowell and Ratey, 1994a, P.6).

Myth 9: the ADHD child's problems reflect poor parenting.

Fact 9: research has shown that the child with ADHD has a biological condition which is influenced by the actions of parents but not caused by poor parenting (Green and Chee, 1998, P.255).

Myth 10: all children with ADHD are excessively active.

Fact 10: the DSM-IV (APA, 1994) contains three subtypes of ADHD. Children diagnosed with Predominantly Inattentive Type do not exhibit signs of hyperactivity.

Myth 11: a child doesn't have ADHD if he/she can pay attention to TV or other activities which interest him/her.

Fact 11: many factors can affect the attention span of a child with ADHD. Studies have shown that these children display fewer behavioural problems in novel settings than in familiar. Frequent reinforcement and punishment, as in the case of video games, may also increase attention levels for children with ADHD (Barkley, 2006).

Myth 12: children are being over-diagnosed with ADHD.

Fact 12: the percentage of population with ADHD has not varied considerably since the early 1990s when it was first identified (Gordon and Asher, 1994). Most researchers agree that ADHD affects 3-5% of school-aged children (APA, 1994).

Myth 13: ADHD is found primarily in boys.

Fact 13: according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, 2004)

The fact that many more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD -at a ratio of approximately 3:1- has led to the mistaken belief among many parents and teachers that ADHD is a boys disorder that rarely occurs in girls. This belief, along with the fact that girls are more likely to have inattentive-type ADHD that ends to be overlooked entirely or does not attract attention until the child is older, means that girls are less likely to be referred for evaluation and to receive the treatment they need. (P.13)

Most of the research on ADHD has focused on boys, putting girls at a further disadvantage. There is a limited amount of information about potential differences between the genders in the development to the condition over time or response to medication and other forms of treatment (AAP, 2004, P.13). Further research is needed regarding gender differences and ADHD.


Although the principal thrust of ideas and inquiries around ADHD have evolved in accordance with the epistemology of the biomedical establishment, a number of scholars from a variety of disciplines have contributed conceptualizations of the disorder which challenge the more popular biomedical views. The remainder of this ADHD review is devoted to a presentation of these alternative perspectives.

The connection between ADHD and creativity:

Russell Barkley, a leader in the field of ADHD, states:

Today most clinical professionals -physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others- believe that ADHD consists of three primary problems in a person's ability to control behavior: difficulties in sustained attention, impulse control and inhibition, and excessive activity. Other professionals (myself included) recognize that those with ADHD have two additional problems: difficulty following rules and instructions and excessive variability in their responses to situations -particularly doing work. I believe that all of these symptoms are associated with a primary deficit in inhibiting behavior that is the hallmark of ADHD (Barkley, 2006, P.29).

These behaviours are the hallmark of ADHD according to many clinical professionals. However, there are others, such as Lynn Weiss, who has also worked with people with ADHD for years who believes something more is involved. Weiss is a pioneer in the study of ADHD and has written a book entitled ADD and Creativity - Tapping Your Inner Muse. In this book, she compares the positive and negative characteristics of ADHD and creativity. She believes that people do not have ADHD, but rather they are ADHD; it is simply a matter of brain wiring. Weiss (1997) explains:

The bottom line is that people who are creative often have many ADD attributes. That is not at all to say that creative people would necessarily be diagnosed as ADD. But they certainly share much in common with people who are ADD (P.58).

She continues to describe similarities between those who are creative and those diagnosed with ADHD. Some of these similarities are: distractible and have poor concentration when working on projects that are not of interest, hypersensitive, hyperactive or restless, poor at time management, high risk-takers, likely to have mood swings, likely to be very reactive, daydreamers; as well as some more positive attributes, such as aware and perceptive, imaginative and original, independent, curious, attracted to novelty, tolerant of disorder, open-minded, perceptive, intuitive, and spontaneous (Weiss, 1997).

Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo (1995) have expressed a similar viewpoint:

We mentioned creativity in our discussion of an ADDer's specialized brain. It's possible to determine exactly what's responsible for creativity. Distractibility doesn't cause creativity but it does play a part in the vast array of disjointed thoughts and ideas that come together in imaginative thinking. Although each of us has an individual profile of abilities and disabilities, many of us share the gift of creativity (P.385).

Hallowell and Ratey (1994a) also have signs of creativity in the patients they have witnessed in their practice. They have noted specific criteria which ADHD adults exhibit in their behaviours. One criteria of the twenty they identify is:

Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent. Not a symptom, but a trait deserving of mention. Adults with ADD often have unusually creative minds. In the midst of their disorganization and distractibility, they show flashes of brilliance (P.74).

Bonnie Cramond (1994a) has also wondered about the similarities between ADHD and creativity. She conducted a study, involving children ages 6-15 years of age. The study examined the incidence of creativity among the students with ADHD against students who were highly creative. The sample consisted of 34 ADHD students, aged 6-15 years, and 76 highly creative students, aged 13-15 years. This study also incorporated the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. This study concluded that:

The most serious implication of the overlap of ADHD and creative behaviors is that a creative child receive unwarranted diagnosis of ADHD. There are several concerns about labelling a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: the ramifications of diagnosing a bright, creative child with ADHD may be dire (Cramond, 1994b, P.12).

Thom Hartmann's sociobiological reframing: ADD or Hunter?

Thom Hartmann (1997) suggests that ADD individuals represent the hunter portion of a spectrum of behaviours which are characterized at one end by hunter-like behaviour and at the other end by farmer-like behaviour. Hartmann's contention is that the behaviours which characterize ADD are, in a hunting society, behaviours which are essential for success and ultimate survival. Unfortunately for the ADD individual in today society, the schooling process, as well as much of what is expected in the world of work, favours the character of the steady, persistent, and careful farmer.

In this efforts to reframe ADD, Hartmann (1997) draws a list of ADD characteristics which he compellingly reinterprets in term of characteristics which are germane to the competent hunter. Hartmann also suggests that behaviour which diametrically opposes ADD behaviour is essential to the success of the farmer. A summary of this comparative reframing is presented below. In this summary, the term ADD is used to denote characteristics which are viewed as disordered. Hunter is used to denote characteristics reframed in terms of hunter assets, while farmer indicates opposing behaviours essential to the successful farmer.

ADD: distractible.

Hunter: constantly monitoring their environment.

Farmer: not easily distracted from the task at hand.

ADD: attention span is short, but can become intensely focused for long periods of time.

Hunter: able to throw themselves into the chase at a moment's notice.

Farmer: able to sustain a steady dependable effort.

ADD: poor planner: disorganized and impulsive (makes snap decisions).

Hunter: flexible; ready to change strategy quickly.

Farmer: organized, purposeful, they have a long term strategy and stick to it.

ADD: distorted sense of time: unaware of how long it will take to do something.

Hunter: tireless: capable of sustained drives, but only when hot on the trail of some goal.

Farmer: conscious of time and timing, they get things done in time, pace themselves, have good staying power

ADD: impatient.

Hunter: results oriented, acutely aware of whether the goal is getting closer now.

Farmer: patient, aware that good things take time, willing to wait.

ADD: dos not convert words into concepts adeptly, and vice versa; may or may not have a reading disability.

Hunter: visual/concrete thinker, clearly seeing a tangible goal even if there are not words for it.

Farmer: much better able to seek goals that are not easy to see at the moment.

ADD: has difficulty following directions.

Hunter: independent.

Farmer: team player.

ADD: daydreamer.

Hunter: bored by mundane tasks; enjoy new ideas, excitement, the hunt being hot on the trail.

Farmer: focused, good at follow-through, tending to details, taking care of business.

ADD: acts without considering consequences.

Hunter: willing and able to take risks and face danger.

Farmer: careful, look before you leap.

ADD: lacking in social graces.

Hunter: no time for niceties when there are decisions to be made!

Farmer: nurturing; creates and supports community values; attuned to whether something will last. (Hartmann, 1997, P.70).

Although Hartmann (1997) sees ADD characteristics as adaptive in a hunting society, it is his contention that those same characteristics can prove beneficial in modern society as well. Trial lawyer, salesperson, and entrepreneur are just a few of the vocations which resonate with hunter tendencies. Hartmann is also quick to point out that ADD children, because of their relatively unbridled perspective, tend to be creative thinkers; and it may be useful to view ADHD with a different perspective, one of being different rather than disordered. There are many people who possess ADHD-type characteristics and they may have learned to cope with their behaviours so well that they do not think of themselves as having attention related problems (e.g. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Richard Burton, Thomas Carlyle, and Ernest Hemingway)(Hartmann, 1997).


The review of the literature began with a brief history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The historical overview was followed by a review of primary and associated symptoms of ADHD. The development stages of ADHD were then outlined and the comorbidity of ADHD with other disorders was discussed. The organic and non-organic origin of ADHD was examined. Furthermore, best and current practices in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment were included. The most common myths about ADHD were outlined and refuted by experts in the field. The final section focused on alternative views toward ADHD.

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