Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Academic Benefits of Peer Tutoring: A Meta-Analytic Review of Single-Case Research

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Academic Benefits of Peer Tutoring: A Meta-Analytic Review of Single-Case Research

Article excerpt

The peer tutoring research base spans more than 40 years and convincingly demonstrates an evidence-based practice (Cloward, 1967; Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982; Delquadri, Greenwood, Whorton, Carta, & Hall, 1986; Mastropieri, Spencer, Scruggs, & Talbott, 2001). Peer tutoring can be defined as "a class of practices and strategies that employ peers as one-on-one teachers to provide individualized instruction, practice, repetition, and clarification of concepts" (Utley & Mortweet, 1997, p. 9). The success of peer tutoring for both tutors and tutees is likely from incorporated instructional features such as frequent opportunities to respond, increased time on task, and regular and immediate feedback. Each of these components is empirically linked with increased academic achievement (Greenwood, Terry, Arreaga-Mayer, & Finney, 1992; Maheady, Harper, & Sacca, 1988).

The positive effects of peer tutoring have been demonstrated across subjects such as reading (Oddo, Barnett, Hawkins, & Musti-Rao, 2010), math (Hawkins, Musti-Rao, Hughes, Berry, & McGuire, 2009), social studies (Lo & Cartledge, 2004), and science (Bowman-Perrott, Greenwood, & Tapia, 2007), and across a wide range of settings that include general education classrooms (Lo & Cartledge, 2004), resource rooms (Maheady et al., 1988), self-contained classrooms (Sutherland & Snyder, 2007), alternative placements (Bowman-Perrott et al., 2007), and group homes (Mayfield & Vollmer, 2007). Peer tutoring configurations include cross-age (Jun, Ramirez, & Cumming, 2010), small group (Maheady, Sacca, & Harper, 1987), and class-wide (Greenwood et al., 1992). In addition, peer tutoring is effective for students with and without disabilities, native English-speaking students, and English language learners (see Okilwa & Shelby, 2010).

Although previous peer tutoring research indicates that student outcomes are better with the use of peer tutoring (Delquadri et al., 1986), there are some gaps in the literature. Missing from the peer tutoring literature are recent reviews that report effect sizes (ES) with confidence intervals for elementary and secondary students. Further, potential moderators have not been fully examined, and an evaluation of single-case data using a common effect size metric is needed.

Single-Case Research, Effect Size, and Confidence Intervals

Single-case research methods can "provide a rigorous experimental evaluation" of the efficacy of an intervention (Kratochwill et al., 2010, p. 2). As such, single-case research has been used to identify a range of interventions used in schools, as this method of inquiry can help identify practices that are evidence-based (Horner et al., 2005). The use of effect size in single-case research allows for a determination of the size or magnitude of academic or behavioral change. Determining the size of the effect, as well as a functional relation, is critical in light of accountability for instructional practices and multitier models of early intervention (see Council for Exceptional Children, 2008; National Association of School Psychologists, 2010).

Data from single-case studies of school-based practices are being summarized more as new methods are being developed that can address positive baseline trends and that require few assumptions about the data (Parker, Vannest, Davis, & Sauber, 2011). Although many studies using single-case research designs may be found in the peer tutoring literature, neither individual nor aggregated effect sizes with corresponding confidence intervals have been published to date. This is a significant shortcoming, as effect sizes aid in summarizing data across studies. Further, confidence intervals are needed for accurate interpretation of effect size data (Cooper, 2011; Hunter et al., 1982; Thompson, 2002, 2007) and are required by the American Psychological Association (APA; American Psychological Association, 2010; Wilkinson & APA Task Force on Statistical Inference, 1999). …

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