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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 92-95  Table of Contents     

A study of association of behavioral problems with scholastic backwardness in urban lower middle-class school children

Department of Psychiatry, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication15-Oct-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Neha Sharma
Department of Psychiatry, INHS Sanjivani, Naval Base, Kochi - 682 004, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_25_18

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Introduction: Scholastic backwardness is a common phenomenon with multifactorial etiology. Behavioral problems are known to occur in children who are scholastically backward (SB). These may be a part of the broad phenomenon, or may exist in cause and effect relationship with scholastic backwardness. Aims: The aim of this study is to study the presence of behavioral problems associated with scholastic backwardness in school-going children in Pune cantonment. Materials and Methods: A total of 300school children aged 8–14 years studying in Class III–IX from two government-aided semi-Marathi schools in Pune cantonment were screened for scholastic backwardness and evaluation of behavioral problems was carried out for positive cases and matched controls. Results: Out of the 28 SB children, behavioral problems were present in 17, giving a prevalence of 60.71%, in comparison with the scholastically normal (SN) group of 50, only 14 of which had behavioral problems, prevalence is 28%. A significant association was found between scholastic backwardness and behavioral problems, which were more prevalent in the SB group compared to matched controls. Conclusions: Behavioral problems are more prevalent among children who are SB when compared to their SN counterparts. Further research is required to assess in detail whether the behavioral problems are comorbid with scholastic backwardness, lead to scholastic backwardness or occur as a consequence of scholastic backwardness.

Keywords: Behavioral problems, parent-rated, prevalence, scholastic backwardness, teacher rated

How to cite this article:
Sharma N, Das RC, Srivastava K, Upasani R. A study of association of behavioral problems with scholastic backwardness in urban lower middle-class school children. Ind Psychiatry J 2018;27:92-5

How to cite this URL:
Sharma N, Das RC, Srivastava K, Upasani R. A study of association of behavioral problems with scholastic backwardness in urban lower middle-class school children. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Sep 30];27:92-5. Available from: http://www.industrialpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2018/27/1/92/243309

Scholastic performance plays an important role in the intellectual, cognitive, emotional, social, and moral development of a student. Scholastic backwardness usually produces feelings of anxiety and inadequacy in children. This can have a negative impact on the emotional and social functioning of the child. It not only affects the child early in their life but also can significantly scar their future. Hence, learning problem is an issue of concern not only for students but also for their parents and all the professionals involved in the promotion of child welfare.

Scholastic backwardness is not easy to define. A child who, despite adequate attendance at school, fails repeatedly in one or more children or one or more classes and a child who is in the lowest 10th percentile in class is broadly categorized as being scholastically backward (SB). However, the definition of scholastic backwardness should be dynamic, taking into account various factors that may influence it.

Numerous studies in India and abroad have found that scholastic backwardness is not an isolated phenomenon, and behavioral problems are common in these children.[1],[2],[3],[4]

The aim of this study was to study the association of behavioral problems with scholastic backwardness in school-going children in Pune cantonment. This study is unique in its population of interest, which includes children from the middle socioeconomic background, studying in cantonment schools. Moreover, a comparative analysis of behavioral problems, both parent-rated and teacher-rated was included. The differences between ratings done by teachers and parents may be indicative of a communication divide between school and family or maybe pointing at behavioral problems that are situation/context specific.

   Materials and Methods Top

Place of study

Two governments aided, semi-Marathi medium schools (curriculum included both Marathi as well as English as the medium of instruction) in an urban cantonment area.

Study population

School children aged 8–14 years studying in Class III–IX.

Period of study

This study was conducted from April 2015 to March 2016.

Nature of study

This was cross-sectional study.

Ethical considerations

Before starting the study, the synopsis of the project was submitted to and approved by the institutional Ethics Committee of Armed Forces Medical College.

Inclusion criteria

  1. Children of age 8–14 years in Class III–IX
  2. School attendance above 75%.

Exclusion criteria

Children with active psychotic illness are excluded from this study

Selection of subjects

Two government-run semi-Marathi schools located within an urban cantonment were chosen for the study. The examination results of the last examination were perused. The results were divided into A, B, C, and D Grades by percentage of aggregate marks in the final examination. Thus, “D” Grade represented the lowest performing group of students (lowest 10th percentile), hence fulfilling the definition of SB. These students were shortlisted for the study, and matched controls for comparison were chosen from the same classes, those with normal scholastic performance, that is with Grade C or above [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Flowchart of selection of participants

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Sample size calculation

To achieve 95% confidence interval for the prevalence of scholastic backwardness (Z) with 5% error of margin (alpha), with the assumption that the prevalence is 15% in the defined population, as was found from the review of the literature, sample size comes out to be 196. However, the actual sample size of the population that was screened for the study was 300, which is more than the required sample size.


Written, informed consent was obtained from the parents of the children enrolled in both groups and due involvement from the teachers obtained for the conduct of the study. These children were then evaluated with the help of teachers rated Rutter Child Scale B and the Behavioral Checklist for Screening Learning Disability (BCSLD) for behavioral factors. Parents' interview was carried out to corroborate the ratings given by the teachers.

Rutter-B teacher rated scale

This scale was used for the assessment of behavioral problems in SB students, as observed by the teachers. A study on the applicability of Rutter-B scale on Indian children has suggested that Rutter-B is not a sufficient measure of disorder in epidemiological surveys, parent's assessment is essential for diagnosing the clinical disorder. Therefore, in this study, a detailed sociodemographic pro forma was used to collect information from the parents of these children. Nevertheless, specificity of Rutter-B Scale can be enhanced not by raising the cutoff score but by adding other measures of disability and dysfunction.[5] Although Rutters' Behavioral Checklist B is a validated measure of classroom behavior, literature suggests that more measures of disruptive behaviors should be used to evaluate children's classroom behavior. Self-report measures and multi-informant should be taken into account, as well as the need to evaluate the teachers' self-efficacy to diagnose and cope with such problems, which was done in this study. In addition, the influence of forms of support, such as a school psychologist or welfare coordinator, should also be taken into account to evaluate teachers' confidence in behavior management.[6]

Behavioral checklist for screening the learning disabled

This scale is used for screening of all the “at risk” children for learning disability as well as behavioral problems. It is a first-level tool for identification of a learning disabled child, aimed for use by the teachers. It is a 30 items scale, designed to assess problems related to visual processing, auditory processing, motor-coordination, cognitive domain, language, memory, perseveration tendencies, and affective domain. The scale is standardized, with a reliability of 0.76. It is not, however, a diagnostic tool.

Evaluation methods

The results of these tests were intimated to the subjects, and due intervention was imparted to these children after consultation with their parents, by referring to the concerned specialist and enrolling them for detailed evaluation. Data were collected in Microsoft Excel sheet and subsequently statistically evaluated. Frequency distribution of variables was plotted on graphs. Chi-square test was applied to find results of significance. Findings were suitably interpreted in the light of existing literature.

   Results and Observations Top

A total of 300 children from 2 schools were screened for scholastic backwardness. Out of these, 34 children, with overall D Grade or below were selected for further evaluation. Thus, prevalence calculated was 11.33%. Of the 34 children that were selected, 06 dropped out of school during the study period. Thus, a total of 28 children were assessed for factors contributing to scholastic backwardness, and the following results were found. Scholastically, normal (SN) students with overall Grade “C” or above were chosen as matched controls. Fifty students out of these were randomly selected for comparison. Out of the 28 SB children, behavioral problems were present in 17, giving a prevalence of 60.71%, in comparison with the SN group of 50, only 14 of which had behavioral problems, prevalence being 28% [Table 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Comparison of behavioural problems between the scholastically backward and scholastically normal groups

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Table 1: Comparison of behavioural problems between the scholastically backward and scholastically normal groups

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Behavioral problem

There was a significant association between behavioral problems as reported by parents as well as teachers (on the Rutter-B scale and BCSLD) and scholastic backwardness in children.

   Discussion Top

Behavioral problems (parent-rated)

A similar study done abroad had found significant association between behavioral problems in children and their scholastic performance.[7] Another study in Nigeria had found similar results.[8] In India, it has been found that behavioral problems in children were the largest group among factors associated with scholastic backwardness.[2],[9] Even in the more specified group of scholastic backwardness, children with learning disabilities were exhibiting significant behavioral problems compared to children without learning disabilities in the form of hyperactivity and aggression.[3] In my study, there was a significant association found between behavioral problems as reported by the parents (in home setting) and the scholastic performance of their children. This finding is in consonance with the findings of above mentioned studies. However, it remains to be established whether the behavioral problems are a cause or effect of the scholastic underperformance.

Behavior problems (teacher rated)

A significant association was found in my study between behavioral problems reported by teachers on the Rutter-B Scale and scholastic underperformance in their pupils. This reflects the findings of another author who found a similar association between behavioral problems as reported by teachers and the child's scholastic backwardness.[4] Similar behavioral problems were found by another author among SB adolescents.[10] Thus, my findings are in line with the existing literature. The cause-effect relationship between the two, however, remains to be established.

Strengths of the study

The study population was specifically comprised urban, lower-middle-class children. Matched controls were taken from the same population to remove potential confounding factors of age, sex, socioeconomic status, etc. Multiple sources of information, namely parents, teachers, school records, and standardized instruments were used for data collection. A structured questionnaire was used for collecting comprehensive information from the parents about sociodemographic variables. Finally, since there was only one examiner to interview the subjects, the data collection procedure was uniform, thereby reducing inter-observer bias.

Limitations of the study

A major limitation of this study was its small sample size. Although the sample screened (300) was much larger than what was required for statistical significance (196), only 28 SB patients fitted the defined criteria and taken up for further analysis. In the sociodemographic questionnaire, questions were aimed at identifying the presence/absence of variables, rather than the detailed information about the same. Parents' lack of awareness about psychological problems of their children might have distorted the data provided by them. Another limitation of the study is the lack of temporality for determining causal associations and no calculation of incidence and risk ratios for behavioral abnormalities.

   Conclusions Top

Behavioral problems were found to be more prevalent among the SB group, compared with the SN group, but the cause-effect relationship of this cooccurrence is yet to be ascertained.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Gohiya P, Shrivastav J. Factors associated with academic backwardness in school children: A hospital based observational study. Int J Contemp Pediatr 2017;2:371-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
Shenoy J, Kapur M. Prevalence of scholastic backwardness among five to eight year old children. Indian J Psychiatry 1996;38:201-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Sridevi G, George A, Sriveni D, Rangaswami K. Learning disability and behavior problems among school going children. J Disabil Stud 2015;1:4-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sharma N, Sharma V. Behavioral problems in school children as recognized by untrained teachers. J Psychiatrists Assoc Nepal 2014;2:26-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Malhotra S, Arun P, Kohli A. Applicability of rutter-B scale on Indian population. Indian J Psychiatry 2000;42:66-72.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Klein JM, Gonçalves A, Silva CF. The rutter children behaviour questionnaire for teachers: From psychometrics to norms, estimating caseness. Psico USF 2009;14:157-65.  Back to cited text no. 6
Barriga AQ, Doran JW, Newell SB, Morrison EM, Barbetti V, Robbins BD. Relationships between problem behaviors and academic achievement in adolescents the unique role of attention problems. J Emot Behav Disord 2002;10:233-40.  Back to cited text no. 7
Akpan MU, Ojinnaka NC, Ekanem EE. Academic performance of school children with behavioural disorders in Uyo, Nigeria. Afr Health Sci 2010;10:154-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
Gohiya P, Shrivastav J. Factors associated with academic backwardness in school children: A hospital based observational study. Int J Contemp Pediatr 2015;2:371-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
George JN, Rampriyanka S. Scholastic underachievement in adolescents: Comparative study in government and private schools and Jr. colleges. J Evol Med Dent Sci 2014;3:4548-55.  Back to cited text no. 10


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