05 Mar

Recruitment of students with AD/HD for academic research

Hello again

We always love to encourage and support useful new research into AD/HD and related topics. Here we have a great example, from two final year psychology students Helena Siebenlist and Jake Glowienko, based at Durham University. They are investigating the relationship between academic creativity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) and would like some help with their recruitment of students. They are trying to recruit students at any North East university with a diagnosis of AD/HD.

They are more than happy to come in and share information about their study. We hope they can come along to some of our meetings to meet you. As you can see, I’ve attached a PDF of the full details. Access to their online form is given above. Here’s a summary:

  • We are investigating academic creativity in university students with a diagnosis of AD/HD, which we believe will be influenced by individual differences in certain traits.
  • There are a few important reasons for studying this, which may reflect the experience of some of the adults in your support groups.
  • Statistically, people with AD/HD are much less likely to attend university, complete their degree, and achieve grades which reflect their true ability. A potential reason is that their working styles and abilities are often not adequately understood or supported by universities. This is further facilitated by a lack of research investment into AD/HD, which provides a vacuum in which falsehoods flourish, interventions are inadequate, and effective reasonable adjustments are often not implemented.
  • In contrast to these difficulties, you may have come across the assertion that people with AD/HD often demonstrate strong creative abilities. This has been popularised by anecdotal evidence in popular press books. However, limited research studies have investigated this (reflecting a wider lack of research investment into AD/HD), most of which have significant weaknesses. For example, they have:
  1. Used outdated and abstract measurements of creativity;
  2. Failed to investigate academic creativity, especially beyond the arts;
  3. Failed to study people with an AD/HD diagnosis (only limited AD/HD-like traits) and otherwise consult the AD/HD community;
  4. Failed to appreciate the complexity and diversity of AD/HD, instead opting for an outdated and limited medical model consisting only of ‘core’ traits of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Therefore, other associated factors such as emotional wellbeing, motivational styles, and self-beliefs have been overlooked, despite the wider (i.e. ‘neurotypical’) creativity literature showing their importance;
  5. Excluded people with comorbid diagnoses, such as other neurodevelopment differences (e.g. autism spectrum, specific learning differences), anxiety, and depression;
  6. Failed to study university students with AD/HD (reflecting a wider lack of research investment into adults with AD/HD).
  • Together, this has led to a situation in which the potential creative abilities of people with AD/HD remain poorly understood, especially in relation to academic creativity in university students. Given that this is a potential strength of students with AD/HD, it is important to understand the circumstances in which it can be best facilitated—especially given the current lack of reliable, tailored, and effective academic interventions. In particular, it is important to investigate the effects of specific AD/HD traits, emotional wellbeing, motivational styles, and self-beliefs, because all of these have been independently associated with both AD/HD and creativity. Additionally, these must be investigated in students with a diagnosis of AD/HD to involve the community in research and because a diagnosis is associated with qualitative differences that medical AD/HD symptom scales alone fail to consider. This is why we are hoping to recruit as many individuals with a diagnosis of ADHD as possible.

Our Aims

  • …  to investigate the relationship between academic creativity and AD/HD in undergraduate students with a diagnosis. We further aim to investigate whether this relationship is mediated by nuanced individual differences in cognitive, emotional, motivational, and self-belief factors. We use a modern definition of creativity as a product which is original, useful, and task-relevant, as determined by independent experts in the specific domain. To measure this in our study, participants are asked to produce a short mock research proposal relating to a given topic, which is later reviewed by independent academics with expertise in that topic. This mock research proposal is meant to be very brief and research can be done to any extent the participant wishes and can even be started or continued in the session. Therefore, we believe that the design of this research proposal should not place an additional work burden on our participants.

They hope that their investigation will help to highlight the academic abilities of students with AD/HD and contribute to the development of applied support and interventions within universities to facilitate these.


best wishes, from bill

bill scott
Adult AD/HD Support Groups NE

mobile / text: 07856212564
Website: http://aadhd-ne-uk.weebly.com