Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

ClassWide Peer Tutoring: An Effective Teaching Procedure for Facilitating the Acquisition of Health Education and Safety Facts with Students with Developmental Disabilities

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

ClassWide Peer Tutoring: An Effective Teaching Procedure for Facilitating the Acquisition of Health Education and Safety Facts with Students with Developmental Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract

Health and safety education programs are critical components of the elementary school's curriculum. Five students with developmental disabilities (DD) were taught health and safety facts using classwide peer tutoring (CWPT) and traditional teaching methods. Using a BAB single- subject design, percent correct on weekly pre and posttest scores on curriculum-based measures were the dependent variables. The results indicated increases in weekly posttest scores using CWPT procedures compared to traditional teacher-led instructional procedures. Discussion is focused on the advantages of using CWPT procedures to acquire basic knowledge about health topics such as body parts, drugs and their effects, poisons, and dangerous situations.

Introduction

Health education and safety programs are critical components of the elementary school's curriculum (Jurs, Mangili, & Jurs, 1990; Thomas, Groer, & Droppleman, 1993). These programs can positively impact negative health habits and behaviors of children that persist throughout their lives and that are more difficult to change as they grow older. Among adults, 50% of the mortality rate is attributable to modifiable health behavior patterns that have their onset in childhood (Millstein, 1989). From an educational perspective, harmful health behaviors (e.g., smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, etc.) are much more easily changed as opposed to having to "break the habit" after a person has acquired poor health behaviors (Brink, Simons-Morton, Harvey, Parcel, & Tiernan, 1988).

In addition to prevention instruction, making young children aware of dangers in their home and school environments and helping them to increase their knowledge about safety issues needs to become a priority in the school's curriculum. Based upon research reported by the National Safety Council Report (1981), ninety-one percent of all unintentional harm to children occurs in and around the home. Injuries related to increased mortality or morbidity among young children include those due to house fires and burns, drowning, falls, poisonous materials, and suffocation (Baker, 1991). Critical content areas for health education programs consist of topics such as (a) fire safety (Adler, Nunn, Northam, Lebnan, & Ross, 1994), (b) sexual abuse and the consequences of sexual behaviors (DeRidder, 1993; Hazzard, 1991; Lenderyou, 1994), (c) health behaviors (Parcel, Bruhn, & Murray, 1984), and (d) safety seat belts (Morrow, 1989, U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1990). Although schools appear to be an obvious and important site for health instruction, comprehensive school health and safety education programs are a requirement in only 25 states.

Given that prevention instruction and making children aware of risks in their environment are important issues, it becomes essential for students with developmental disabilities (DD) to have a curriculum that teaches good health habits, an awareness of dangerous situations encountered at home and school, and the teaching of safety facts as components of the elementary school's curriculum. For a health education curriculum to be successfully implemented, it must be tailored to the cognitive, learning, and behavioral characteristics of students with DD (e.g., slow learning rates, failure to identify relevant features of tasks, difficulty responding to newly learned material, and difficulty generalizing learned skills to new and unfamiliar situations) Uenkins & Jenkins, 1981). In addition, general and special education teachers must maximize opportunities to learn (i.e., practice) and instructional time to make learning across various settings possible (Brown, 1978). An individualized, appropriate education prog ram that includes health and safety instruction increases the likelihood that students with DD can acquire and maintain appropriate health and safety habits.

An effective teaching program requires subject matter content that can be presented in a structured manner, with mastery of concepts, vocabulary, and relevant subject matter prior to learning subsequent units. …

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