Master's Theses

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




James Ryabik


The level of task difficulty has been found to be an important variable to consider in distractibility studies (Sen & Clarke, 1968; Turnure, 1970a, 1970b). Actual as well as perceived task difficulty has also been found to be related to activity levels in mentally retarded children (Stephens & Henry, 1973). These findings suggested that the level of task difficulty may be an important variable to consider when conducting activity level research. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between fidgetometer activity level and the perceived difficulty of academic tasks in elementary school students. In addition, the relationship between fidgetometer activity level and actual task difficulty was examined. Eight English-speaking prospective first and second grade males (CA range six years, three months to nine years, five months) served as subjects. Although subjects employed in this study were determined to be of average intelligence, they were experiencing difficulties in learning in the academic areas of reading and/or mathematics. Activity rates were measured by use of the Ryabik-Farrall Activity Chair (Ryabik, 1976) during five different sessions. Academic stimuli consisted of reading and arithmetic tasks determined to be appropriate to the subjects ' grade placement. Three separate RBF-24 designs (Kirk, 1968) were used to analyze the data. Results of this study failed to support earlier research which found a relationship between activity level and actual as well as perceived task difficulty (Stephens & Henry, 1973). Factors contributing to these results as well as the need for future activity level research were discussed.


Copyright 1979 Gerald L. Jones


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