The Effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring on the Spelling Achievement of First Graders with Learning Disabilities

By Taylor, Lorie K.; Alber, Sheila R. | The Behavior Analyst Today, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring on the Spelling Achievement of First Graders with Learning Disabilities


Taylor, Lorie K., Alber, Sheila R., The Behavior Analyst Today


Abstract

An ABAB reversal design was used over the course of 26 weeks to examine the effects of reciprocal Classwide Peer Tutoring on the number of words spelled correctly on weekly tests by four first graders with learning disabilities who were fully included in a regular classroom. During the baseline condition, students were instructed using a traditional approach which included completing activities in a basal spelling series. During the reciprocal Classwide Peer Tutoring condition, students worked in dyads to practice spelling words for three days each week for 20-minute sessions. Results demonstrated that all four students spelled substantially more words correctly in the Classwide Peer Tutoring condition (8-10 words each week) when compared to the baseline condition (2 to 7 words each week).

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The growing diversity in America's classrooms has presented teachers with the challenge of providing and facilitating effective instruction for a wide range of learners, including those with disabilities. In order for all students to attain success in the regular classroom, each must be provided with frequent opportunities to respond to instruction. The frequency of student responding is an essential component for the acquisition and retention of academic skills (e.g., King-Sears & Bradley, 1995; Heward, 1994; Maheady & Harper, 1987). One way to keep all learners actively engaged in learning is through the use of peer-mediated instruction.

Peer mediated instruction programs are a set of alternative teaching arrangements in which students serve as instructors assisting their classmates. This arrangement allows for frequent response opportunities and immediate and constructive feedback. The teacher's role changes from primary deliverer of instruction to facilitator and monitor (Maheady, 2001). Peer mediated instruction has positively impacted all students in general education classrooms by accelerating the learning of both lower and higher achieving students. Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) is one peer mediated instructional arrangement that has been demonstrated to be effective for a wide range of learners (Greenwood et al., 2001). Specifically, CWPT has been empirically validated for the following populations:

* at-risk first graders learning reading, spelling, and math skills (Greenwood & Delquadri, 1995),

* mildly disabled and nondisabled elementary students learning social studies content (Maheady, Sacca, & Harper, 1988),

* students with limited English proficiency learning reading skills (Greenwood, Arreaga-Mayer, Utley, Gakiv, & Terry, 2001),

* second graders learning basic math facts (Harper, Mallette, Maheady, & Clifton, 1990),

* students with autism learning reading skills (Kamps, Barbetta, Leonard, & Delquadri, 1994),

* fourth and fifth graders with learning disabilities learning sight words (Butler, 1999),

* students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder learning math skills (DuPaul & Henningson, 1993),

* and students with mental retardation learning spelling words (Mallette, Harper, Maheady, & Dempsey, 1991).

This body of research reveals that students ranging in grade and ability levels can attain academic success when participating in reciprocal CWPT arrangements.

This investigation employed the Classwide Peer Tutoring--Learning Management System developed by Greenwood et al., 2001. This investigation was designed to extend the findings of Classwide Peer Tutoring to Mississippi first graders with learning disabilities. Specifically, the following research questions were addressed: What are the effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring on the number of words spelled correctly on weekly spelling tests? What are the students' opinions of Classwide Peer Tutoring? What is the teacher's opinion of Classwide Peer Tutoring?

METHOD

Participants and Setting

Four first graders (two boys and two girls) with learning disabilities participated in this investigation. …

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