Assessment of Classwide Peer Tutoring for Students with Autism as an Inclusion Strategy in Physical Education
Recent government policies mandated inclusion of students with special needs, including students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), into least restrictive classroom settings (No Child Left Behind legislation; U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Inclusion of individuals with ASD presents unique challenges to physical education teachers. First, teachers are required to provide appropriate curricula and more individualized instruction for children with ASD, who often have lower psychomotor (Reid, O'Connor, & Lloyd, 2003) and cognitive skills (Rutter, 2005) than typically developing counterparts. Second, physical education teachers reported they had little preservice preparation and few professional development opportunities concerning inclusion in physical education settings (Block & Obrusnikova, 2007; Hardin, 2005).
To sustain engagement for individuals with ASD, Todd and Reid (2006) recommended, strategies combining external reinforcers, self-monitoring, and verbal cuing. Peer tutoring (PT) has been promoted as an inclusive strategy consisting of these recommended practices. In PT, tutors are required to provide instruction, prompt, or feedback followed by reinforcement. PT studies in physical education with students with disabilities have increased moderate to vigorous physical activity for students who were deaf (Lieberman, Dunn, van der Mars, & McCubbin, 2000); improved correct performance of motor skills for children with developmental disabilities (Houston-Wilson, Dunn, van der Mars, & McCubbin, 1997, Klavina & Block, 2008); and improved learning time of children with moderate-severe developmental disabilities (DePaepe, 1985; Webster, 1987, Klavina & Block, 2008).
One version of PT is Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT). In CWPT, the entire class is divided into tutor-tutee dyads, and intervention (i.e., tutoring) is delivered to the entire class at the same time. The tutor typically demonstrates the skill and provides feedback to the tutee, who engages in the instructional task. Students reciprocate roles at accomplishment of the task, or to the teacher's cue (Heron, Welsch, & Goddard, 2003).
There are few studies of CWPT in physical education. Johnson and Ward (2001) demonstrated effectiveness of CWPT in increasing striking trials and success with third-grade students. Ward and Ayvazo (2006) showed CWPT increased catching success of kindergartners with and without ASD. Beyond these studies, very little is known about CWPT effectiveness in physical education. The primary purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate effects of CWPT as an inclusive strategy in physical education.
Participants and Setting
This study was conducted in a K-8 charter school in the Midwest, specializing in inclusion placements for children with ASD. Approximately 17% of the school children were African-American, Hispanic, or Asian. The physical education teacher was licensed to teach students with and without disabilities and was a graduate student in a physical education teacher education university program. Physical education lessons were delivered twice a week for 30 minutes.
This study was conducted in a kindergarten class (n=16). Six students had ASD, while the rest were typically developing. All students and their parents were recruited to participate in this study, using formal consent procedures in compliance with the institutional review board requirements. Two students, who had been diagnosed with ASD, were purposefully selected by their classroom teacher to participate as target students in this study. The first student, Ben, had an independent psychiatric diagnosis of ASD, described as behavioral and developmental patterns consistent with ASD. Despite his verbal capability, Ben had difficulty making requests and expressing wants and needs. Ben responded to others only when prompted. …