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The ERIC/OSEP Special Project

OSEP, Ideas that Work

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Development funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs


Classwide Peer Tutoring Shown Effective in Spelling Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms

Researchers studying classwide peer tutoring (CWPT) in inclusive classrooms with students who have mild mental retardation and their general education peers have found that for both groups, academic achievement and academic engagement was higher when spelling instruction was delivered using CWPT than when it was delivered using teacher-led instruction. The study was funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs and conducted by researchers and teachers from the Juniper Gardens Children's Project, Children's Mercy Hospital, and the M.E. Pearson Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas.

CWPT involves using a peer to provide instruction to another student in the class, in a classwide, reciprocal role arrangement. In this study, the technique was compared to teacher-led instruction in second and third grade classes by comparing student achievement and engagement under each of the two conditions. In each of two classrooms, two students with MMR, a high-achieving nondisabled student, and a low-achieving nondisabled student were selected, and data was collected under the teacher-led condition and the CWPT condition.

On weekly spelling tests, seven of the eight students spelled with more accuracy during CWPT than during teacher-led instruction, and the eighth student spelled with the same accuracy under both conditions. Pre-tests of the next week's spelling words were given each week, and the pre- and post-test gains were analyzed. All of the target students demonstrated greater average gains during the CWPT condition than under the teacher-led condition, with the students with MMR and one low-achieving typical peer demonstrating the greatest gains.

Target students were observed to assess their levels of academic engagement, and all eight students showed higher rates of academic engagement under the CWPT condition. A consumer satisfaction questionnaire was administered to teachers and students at the end of the study. Both teachers reported that CWPT had academic benefits for their students, and students in both classes reported positive responses to the CWPT program. The majority of students reported liking the program, that it helped their spelling, and most of the typical students reported that the students with MMR were smarter than they had expected.

For more information about this study, see "Classwide Peer Tutoring: Teaching Students with Mild Mental Retardation in Inclusive Classrooms" by Susan L. Mortweet, Cheryl A. Utley, Dale Walker, Harriet L. Dawson, Joseph C. Delquardi, Shalini S. Reddy, Charles R. Greenwood, Sandy Hamilton, and Deborah Ledford in Exceptional Children, v. 65, n. 4, Summer 1999.


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Last updated: August 12, 1999

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