Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Peer Management Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review of Single-Case Research

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Peer Management Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review of Single-Case Research

Article excerpt

Peer management interventions require a peer "to prompt and/or provide consequences for the nonacademic responses of a target individual" (Kohler & Strain, 1990, p. 442). School-based peer management interventions involve training peers to implement a standardized intervention protocol with one or more target students to address any behavior that is not an academic skill outcome (e.g., oral reading fluency, answering reading comprehension questions, correctly spelling words, or computing math problems accurately). Rather, peer management interventions target behaviors such as social skills, disruptive behaviors, and communicative behaviors (Lloyd, Crowley, Kohler, & Strain, 1988). Training a peer to implement an intervention that targets academic engagement would also fall under the nonacademic domain of peer management interventions because although indicators of academic engagement (e.g., time on-task, attendance) are essential for learning to occur, they do not directly ensure an increase in academic skill performance (Finn & Zimmer, 2012). For example, increasing a student's time on-task from 50% to 100% may not improve his or her reading comprehension if the student lacks the prerequisite skills for reading comprehension. Therefore, nonacademic responding in this sense refers to any behavior that is not a discrete academic skill.

Kohler and Strain (1990) reviewed the research on peer-mediated interventions in school psychology and behavior analysis and organized the interventions into four distinct categories: peer tutoring, peer modeling, group contingencies, and peer management. Peer management interventions can be distinguished from other peer-mediated interventions based on three primary characteristics (Kohler & Strain, 1990). First, peer management interventions are designed to change the nonacademic behavior of their targets, whereas peer tutoring is used to improve academic skills. Second, peer management interventions require that interventionists be formally trained to implement the intervention protocol. This differentiates peer management interventions from group-contingency interventions, which typically require little to no training for the peers and assign the task of implementation to the classroom teacher. Group-contingency interventions typically use social pressure from untrained or minimally trained peers to drive behavior change in the target student. The third characteristic that distinguishes peer management interventions from other peer-mediated approaches is that the intervention protocol requires the peer interventionist to do more than model the desired behavior to be imitated. Peer management interventions typically require the interventionist to verbally or physically prompt a response from a target student, appropriately deliver reinforcement to a target student following the occurrence of target behaviors, and punish or block responding of specific target behaviors.

Examples of typical peer management interventions include efforts to train students to teach and prompt appropriate social skills and communicative behaviors with their peers (e.g., Owen-DeSchryver, Carr, Cale, & Blakeley-Smith, 2008), which are typically implemented with students with autism and other disorders affecting communication (e.g., Trembath, Balandin, Togher, & Stancliffe, 2009). Lee, Odom, and Loftin (2007) trained six elementary school students to implement a peer management intervention aimed to increase the social interaction of three peers with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Two peer interventionists were assigned to each target student, and each trio was observed during a structured-play session each day. Prior to peer interventionist training and intervention implementation, the target students engaged in very little social interaction during the structured-play sessions. Once the peer interventionists were trained and encouraged to use four specific social skills (sharing, suggesting play ideas, assisting, and being affectionate) to engage the target students, the amount of time each target student spent in a social interaction during the structured-play session increased. …

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