Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiThomaso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Lisa Hain, PsyD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Terri Erbacher, PhD

Third Advisor

Barbara B Williams, PhD


Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a common occurrence in school-aged children. The epidemic of TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults (Harris, Mishkin, & Ross, 2010). Children who suffer head injuries frequently experience behavioral, adaptive, and educational deficits (Taylor et al., 2002). As child study team members, under the provisions set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school psychologists are responsible for the identification, classification, assessment, and implementation of proper school-based treatment for children who sustain a TBI. This study sought to determine New Jersey school psychologists’ endorsement of common myths and misconceptions regarding brain injuries and compare those beliefs to past research. As well, it proposed to assess New Jersey school psychologists’ knowledge and self-perceived competence in the areas of TBI identification, assessment, and school-based intervention strategies. This study evaluated the results of a survey made available in of two formats (paper-and-pencil and e-mail); the first portion of the study, a true-false format, was a partial replication of the Gouvier, Prestholdt, and Warner (1988) study and the second portion was a Likert-scale developed by this study’s investigator. Surveys were disseminated via paper-and-pencil format to the principal investigators current school district and email addresses to other school psychologists within the state of New Jersey. A total of 229 school psychologists responded. When comparing current responses to past research, results reveal overall enhancement in knowledge of mild TBI and concussions, as well as of the impact of serial brain injuries, with fewer endorsements of misconceptions and myths in these vi areas. However, inaccurate beliefs were espoused equally by current practicing school psychologists as those of past research in areas of TBI recovery, amnesia, and brain damage, thus suggesting school professionals require further awareness of TBI sequelae and recovery consequences, especially with regard to more severe head injuries. Further, this study revealed a difference in the knowledge base in identifying TBI when comparing master’s-level to education specialist degreed school psychologists, indicating greater knowledge in identification among those with an education specialist degree. While not statistically significant, a similar trend was noted when comparing master’s and education specialist degree school psychologists in their knowledge of TBI assessment procedures. Moreover, while most practicing school psychologists felt competent in providing intervention strategies for children with head injuries, they did not necessarily possess accurate knowledge of TBI. As such, results implicate an ongoing need for further training and graduate-degree-program enhancement in the area of TBI, especially at the master’s degree level.