sealPurdue Education & Careers Briefs

November 1996

Expert advocates behavior modification to control ADHD

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Only 10 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) receive any kind of therapy to help them modify their behavior. A Purdue University expert on ADHD says that figure should be near 100 percent.

"Ninety percent of children with ADHD are treated with stimulant medication at some time in their lives, but taking a pill is only a three-hour solution to the problem," says Betsy Hoza, assistant professor of psychological sciences. "Teaching children to control their behavior might be expected to make more of an impact on their lives."

Hoza is a faculty supervisor for Purdue's Child and Adolescent Clinic, which provides behavior modification therapy for youths with a variety of problems.

"Medication should not be the first choice for treating ADHD," she says. Hoza advocates trying behavior management techniques first, and then adding medication if the child's behavior remains unacceptable. She maintains that medication dosages often could be cut in half if they were coupled with behavioral treatment.

When behavior modification methods are put into practice, it's the adults who get most of the formal training. In the Purdue clinic, parents of ADHD children attend 10 sessions to learn simple skills for managing their child's behavior. The children's teachers also are asked to fill out daily report cards on the student's conduct. Parents then provide home-based rewards when children exhibit proper school behavior.

Among the topics covered is how to give commands in a way that will bring about compliance by the child. "For example, telling a child to be good is not specific enough," Hoza says. "If you want them to sit in a chair with their feet on the floor, tell them that." Parents also receive information on how to use time-outs and how to tackle difficult times such as getting ready for school or bedtime.

"It's not that these parents have bad parenting skills," Hoza says. "We assure them and remind them that they probably have other children at home who are doing just fine. Even excellent parents need to learn how to structure the environment differently for a child with ADHD."

Hoza says one reason more children may not be receiving behavior modification is because of the commitment it requires of parents. "It's a lot easier to give a child a pill than to teach them how to manage their behavior," she says. "Also, many parents may not know where to go to get help."

Hoza says parents need to ask their local clinics and counselors if they provide behavior modification training. "In some areas there are many people who are doing it, but that's not the case everywhere, so you just have to look for it," she says.

Hoza is part of a national multi-site research project comparing various treatments for ADHD, including behavior management. Results of the long-term study are about two years away.

CONTACT: Hoza, (765) 494-6996; e-mail,

College-student space experiments pave way for K-12 tests

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Thanks to some Purdue University students, K-12 students may have a low-cost way to send experiments into space.

A student group, Purdue's Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, designed four experiments scheduled to ride aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in November. The group was chosen, along with other institutions, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to design several experiments as part of a NASA pilot program. The experiments will test the feasibility of NASA'a Space Experiment Module (SEM) project, which will give K-12 students an affordable way to place an experiment on board a space shuttle mission.

An overview of NASA's SEM project can be found on the World Wide Web at

"The current method for student experiments requires that they supply power and a data acquisition system, as well as an experiment, which is beyond the capability of the average grade-school student," says Chetan Kumar, a senior in mechanical engineering who is in charge of Purdue's experiments. "So NASA designed the SEM project, which is less expensive and has power and a data acquisition system supplied to it." The goal of the project is to reduce the cost of student experiments by 90 percent.

"Having colleges in the pilot program will help work the bugs out and make it a more user-friendly program when it is implemented for K through 12 students," Kumar says.

If the pilot program is successful, the Purdue group will work with grade-school and high-school students to develop SEM experiments for future shuttle missions.

The Purdue project involves four experiments: a thermal convection experiment to examine the effects of microgravity on a heated fluid; a particle detector that compares the differences in "pits" in materials caused by cosmic rays and earth-based radiation; a test on the effects of microgravity on seed germination; and a study using brine shrimp to determine if gravity plays a role in the shrimp's consumption of a growth-stimulating chemical.

CONTACT: Chetan Kumar, (765) 743-1326; e-mail,

Companies duel for health sciences students in dual major

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Companies forced to comply with a growing number of regulations on pollution and job hazards are actively seeking students who major in both health physics and industrial hygiene, says David Tate, director of student services in Purdue's School of Health Sciences.

"Companies have to comply with these laws but often can't afford both a health physicist and an industrial hygienist," he says. "So they're eager to hire one person knowledgeable in both areas."

Industrial hygienists deal with such issues as hazardous waste, indoor air quality, and air and noise pollution. Health physicists design and direct programs to protect people from the harmful effects of X-rays, lasers and other radiation.

Purdue's School of Health Sciences offers the dual degree. Students typically take four years to graduate, but may take longer if they add other courses or have switched to the program from a different degree, Tate says.

Internships are available for students in this dual major at major oil refineries, chemical manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies, nuclear power plants, medical facilities, and automotive and steel plants, as well as public and private environmental consulting firms.

Bachelor's graduates of this dual-degree program can command starting salaries of approximately $37,000, Tate says. Graduates who have been working four or five years in the field can make as much as $50,000 to $60,000.

CONTACT: Tate, (765) 494-1392; e-mail,

Technology education center opens with $1.35 million grant

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- With a $1.35 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Purdue's School of Technology is creating an educational center to improve the opportunities of students preparing for careers in manufacturing.

The three-year grant will open the Midwest Center for Advanced Technology Education. Director Dennis R. Depew envisions a national center being built from the regional framework that also will focus on developing technology faculty and curriculum materials for high schools, community colleges, universities and technical societies.

"Our goal is to build a national repository of curriculum materials that serve the needs of industry and technology-based organizations," says Depew, also head of the Department of Industrial Technology. "Faculty members who come to the center will learn about current technology and teaching techniques, and they'll develop curriculum materials to disseminate nationally."

By better preparing today's teachers of technology, they, in turn, can better prepare tomorrow's generation of technology teachers and practitioners who enter industry, Depew says.

"It is imperative that we strengthen teachers' understanding and application of technology," he says. "If we can produce the most highly trained educators in technology education, that expertise will be passed on to produce the most highly trained graduates and industry professionals in the world."

The center will develop a Web site and printed publications, and will conduct 10 regional and national workshops each year for faculty education. The workshops, to begin in April, will focus heavily on such manufacturing topics as automation, robotics and computer-assisted design, but will be organized according to other timely topics in industry.

CONTACTS: Depew, (765) 494-1101

Don K. Gentry, dean of School of Technology, (765) 494-2552;

To order the text of a news release about the technology center, send an e-mail that says "send punews 9608f38" to this address:

Compiled by Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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