The Relationship between Class-Wide Peer Tutoring, Spelling and the Social Interaction of Students with and Students without Mild Disabilities

Article excerpt

For many years students with disabilities have been pulled out of the regular classrooms in order to receive special education services. However, some researchers (e.g. Lipsky and Gartner, 1989) have demonstrated that there are few, if any, positive effects for students who are placed in special education settings. The present study was part of a number of studies conducted at Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the University of Kansas attempting to investigate effective methods of instruction that targeted the academic and social benefit of students with and students without disabilities who were educated in general and special education settings (Delquadri et al., 1983; Greenwood et al., 1989). The target of this study was evaluation of Class-wide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) . Thus the purpose of the study was ( 1 ) to evaluate the effectiveness of CWPT in the spelling performance of students with elducable mental retardation and learning disabilities who were instructed in a general education classroom, and (2) to evaluate the social interaction of the students with and of the students without disabilities during the teacher-implemented and the CWPT instruction, in that inclusive setting.

Participants The participants were six elementary sixth-graders from the Olathe School District in Kansas.Two students were identified as learning disabled and one student was identified as educable mentally retarded, all receiving supplementary special education services. Three typical students - two average achievers and a high achiever in spelling - were selected by the teacher on the basis of past performance on curriculum-based measures.

Procedures The design employed was an A B A B reversal design (Baer et al., 1968). Pre- and post- spelling tests were administered every Monday and Friday, and included a list of twenty unknown words developed by the teacher at the beginning of the academic year. Social interaction observations and eco-behavioral observations were conducted concurrently during all spelling sessions, using computer software developed specifically for the purpose (i.e. NCENT and MOOSES). The intervention comprised CWPT, a form of same-age, intra-class, peer tutoring. During this game, which is reciprocal, tutors become tutees half-way through a ten-minute session as a means of extending opportunities to practise and of programming generalisation.Tutors use a structured teaching procedure for prompting, observing and correcting the tutees' responding. Tutees' responses earn points for their team as tutees spell words presented by their tutors in both oral and written form. Two points are earned for a correct response, one point for correcting an error by practising correctly three times, and no points for erroneously practising a word.

Results The results indicated that (1) the mean spelling scores of students with and those of students without disabilities increased by 37 per cent and 14 per cent respectively when CWPT was implemented during instruction, (2) the duration of positive social interaction during the CWPT was increased by approximately 50 per cent for all students, (3) during the teacher-implemented instruction the amount of academic responding was lower for the students with mild disabilities (34 per cent and 32 per cent), compared with the students without disabilities (38 per cent and 53 per cent), (4) the CWPT resulted in high levels of academic responding both for the students with mild disabilities (56 per cent and 73 per cent) and for their typical peers (62 per cent and 72 per cent), (5) during the initial baseline condition the students with mild disabilities received no instruction 25 per cent of the time, compared with 4 per cent of the time for the students without disabilities, and (6) during the second baseline condition the students without disabilities were more academically engaged using worksheets (66 per cent of the time), compared to the students with mild disabilities (31 per cent of the time), who spent the majority of their time (61 per cent) in discussions with their peers. …