Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Systematic Review of Peer-Mediated Interventions on the Academic Achievement of Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Systematic Review of Peer-Mediated Interventions on the Academic Achievement of Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Article excerpt


The purpose of this review is to report on the effectiveness of peer-mediated interventions on academic outcomes for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). CEC standards for evidence-based practices were used for determination of methodologically sound studies.

Twenty-four studies involving 288 participants met inclusionary criteria. For the majority of the studies, the intervention was implemented by the classroom teacher. In addition, of the 24 studies, three quarters took place in some of the most restrictive settings available for students with EBD. Overall, peer-mediated interventions demonstrated medium effect size gains (Percent of non-overlapping data [PND] 83%; Standard Mean Difference [SMD] 2.03; Tau-U 0.77). When assessing the effectiveness of peer-mediated interventions for specific academic content areas, the most consistent gains were observed in spelling (PND 86%; SMD 2.6; Tau-U 0.77), math (PND 92%; SMD 1.68; Tau-U 0.70), reading (PND 80%; SMD 1.83; Tau-U 0.82), and English (PND 69%; SMD 2.10; Tau-U 0.82). In addition, results showed that meaningful gains were observed regardless of the role students were assigned, including tutor, tutee, or for students alternating between roles.

Keywords: peer-mediated, emotional and behavioral disorders, review


In 2012, approximately 370,000 children and youth with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) received special education and related services under the label of Emotional Disturbances, representing less than one (0.5%) percent of the school-age population. This prevalence rate, which many consider to be a gross underestimate, has been a persistent concern (Forness, Freeman, Paparella, Kauffman, & Walker, 2011), especially given researchers estimate the true prevalence rate to be closer to 12% of all school-age children (Forness, Kim, & Walker, 2012). This gap highlights the need for additional research on quality interventions for students with EBD (Wagner, Kutash, Duchnowski, Epstein, & Sumi, 2005). This is critical given students with EBD experience a multitude of negative outcomes that have serious implications for school and post school environments (Bradley, Doo-little, & Bartolotta, 2008; Sanford et al., 2011; Wagner et al., 2005). For instance, students with EBD experience higher rates of (a) disciplinary exclusions (Bradley et al., 2008; Wagner et al., 2005; U. S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 2015), (b) placement in restrictive environments (Smith, Katsiyannis, & Ryan, 2011), (c) delinquency rates (Quinn, Rutherford, & Leone, 2001), and (d) unemployment / underemployment (Sanford et al., 2011; Wagner & Davis, 2006).

In addition, students with EBD often experience poor academic achievement (Bradley et al., 2008; Lane, Barton-Arwood, Nelson, & Wehby, 2008; Nelson, Benner, Lane, & Smith, 2004). Their educational performance is commonly marked by low grades, course failure, and grade retention (Wagner et al., 2005). At the elementary level these students often function at least a year below grade level (Falk & Wehby, 2001), and by high school their academic performance in subjects such as reading falls 3.5 years below grade level (Coutinho, 1986). Two prior reviews (Reid, Gonzalez, Nordness, Trout, & Epstein, 2004; Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003) found that students with EBD score significantly lower than peers without disabilities across all academic subject areas. Students with EBD struggle and fall well below the national averages in math achievement (Riccomini, Witzel, & Robbins, 2008; Templeton, Neel, & Blood, 2008), writing (Gage, Wilson, & MacSuga-Gage, 2014; Kindzierski & Leavitt-Noble, 2010), and reading (Trout et al., 2003; Benner, Nelson, Ralston, & Mooney, 2010). Consequently, there is no surprise that students with EBD experience higher rates of dropping out of school, and graduating without a regular high school diploma (Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009; U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.