Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rose Iovannone, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mario Hernandez, Ph.D.


attribution theory, behavior problems, callous unemotional traits, conduct problems, teacher perceptions


Conduct problems describe behaviors that violate either age-appropriate societal norms or the rights of others. They include: physical or verbal aggression, theft, lying, arguing with authority, defiance, violation of rules, property destruction, fire setting, and truancy. Among youth with conduct problems, a subset display features known as callous-unemotional (CU) traits. CU traits, or interpersonal callousness, are exemplified in behaviors such as: (a) absence of remorse or guilt, (b) lack of empathy and, (c) callous use of others for personal gain (Frick & White, 2008). This study aims to fill the gap of examining these students in schools and which practices are currently being used to manage these students’ behaviors. Because students with callous unemotional traits are typically the students exhibiting the most extreme and aggressive forms of conduct problems, there is a need to discover effective ways to manage their behavior in order to maintain a safe and effective learning environment for all students. In this study, vignettes were used to make comparisons between youth with and without CU traits in the following areas: (RQ1) teachers’ attributive perceptions of conduct problems (i.e., Why do they think the child behaves this way?), (RQ2) teachers’ self-efficacy in addressing conduct problems in the classroom, (RQ3) the most appropriate educational setting for students with conduct problems, (RQ4) the type of behavior management strategies believed to be most effective, and (RQ5) the expected trajectory of the student. Teachers were most likely to attribute problem behavior of all students to home and within child factors but they were somewhat more likely to attribute home factors to the students with CU traits. Teachers additionally feel overall less efficacious in working with students with CU traits, had lower expectations of success, and were more likely to recommend ongoing home-school collaboration. Participants in this study showed overwhelming support for the fact that reinforcing interventions are more effective than punitive interventions and knowledge of a wide range of interventions. The discussion describes suggestions for future training to increase teacher competency in working with students with conduct problems in the general education setting.