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Beneficial Teaching Conditions for Children with ADHD

Background and aims

They dream, concentrate poorly or simply refuse to sit still: pupils with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have special educational needs. They're inattentiveness, impulsiveness, hyperactivity or aggression sets them apart from others and makes it difficult for teaching staff to stick to their planned lesson.
The core characteristics of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. They can be established in around 5% of primary school age children and represent one of the major themes of Special Education. A vast number of studies on ADHD have been carried out in recent years, whereby the implementation of knowledge has been concentrated primarily on the further development of medicinal and therapeutic principles, and less on educational measures. In addition, thecurrent studies on learning preconditions of school children with ADHD are concentrated on the mental processes which are affected (misfit constellation). Thereby, clear structures and appropriate requirements are necessary as central characteristics of an optimal learning environment. Nevertheless, there is a considerable lack of knowledge about preconditions for learning which could enable school children with ADHS to cope successfully with the demands of school life (fit constellation).


The aim of this research project is to create teaching conditions that work supportively towards children with ADHD. Data will be collected using an experience sample method (ESM), questionnaires and a widely available online survey.

Formulation of the issues

  1. Is there an association between learning effects connected with clearly structured teaching and a reduction of cognitive ADHD symptoms (inattentiveness)?
  2. Is there an association between learning effects connected with clearly structured teaching and a reduction of the affective ADHD symptoms (impulse control)?
  3. To what extent do school children with a diagnosed ADHD differ from school children with behavioural disturbances (but without an ADHD diagnosis)?
  4. To what extent does the self-perception of school children as regards a reduction of their symptoms differ from the perception of their teachers?
  5. From the teachers' point of view, what changes in the ADHD symptoms are produced by structuring the teaching methods?


This research project combines psychological and neuroscientific methods. On the one hand, the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) is used. This makes it possible to determine the management of scholastic demands at a given moment and not only in retrospect. In addition, the teaching staff is asked to draw up an experience report. On the other hand, the neuronal processes connected with the emotional handling of scholastic demands are examined by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques.


Amongst other things, the results show that:

  • The children are not inattentive all of the time, the spectrum of attentiveness over the week is very broad
  • There is a reduction in the central features of ADHD during active teaching forms such as group work
  • Teaching staff most often appreciate concentration less than the child itself 

The central findings of the study will be summarised in a brochure published in collaboration with the parents' association ELPOS (link to follow).


  • Gyseler, D. & Seewald, C. (2011). Förderliche Unterrichtsbedingungen für Kinder mit einer ADHS. Unveröffentlichter Schlussbericht. Zürich: Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik Schlussbericht.
  • Elpos Zürich & Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (o.J.). ADHS.
  • Gyseler, D. & Seewald, C. (2009). Förderliche Unterrichtsbedingungen für Kinder mit einer Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-/ Hyperaktivitätsstörung (ADHS). Referat am SZH Kongress, Sept. 2009.


Forschung und Entwicklung
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