Classwide Peer Tutoring: Teaching Students with Mild Mental Retardation in Inclusive Classrooms
Large scale research and evaluation studies by school districts indicated that there is a strong trend toward improved student outcomes for students with disabilities and their typical peers in inclusive settings (Lipsky & Gartner, 1996). Research indicated that to create successful educational environments for students with mild mental retardation in inclusive classrooms, the following instructional components are essential for maximizing academic achievement: (a) group formats facilitated by teachers, (b) student engagement, (c) student-teacher interactions, (d) lesson pacing, (e) opportunity for questioning and feedback, (f) structured use of peers (Hendrickson & Frank, 1993).
This study set out to examine the structured use of peers in enhancing outcomes for students with mild mental retardation. A solid research base supports the use of peer-mediated instruction for students with and without various disabilities. One of the most well researched peer-mediation interventions is classwide peer tutoring (CWPT), which involves the use of a peer to provide instruction to another student in classwide, reciprocal role arrangements (Delquadri, Greenwood, Stretton, & Hall, 1983).
Researchers assessed the impact of a CWPT program on spelling achievement for eight students with mild mental retardation. The study examined the impact of a teacher-led classroom versus a classroom that used CWPT on student achievement scores in spelling. Researchers who carefully monitored each classroom to ensure the integrity of CWPT maintained the fidelity of the study. Teachers who implemented the CWPT program were fully trained.
Student scores in spelling for both students with and without disabilities were obtained before the study began and were collected immediately following the intervention. All of the target students, those with and without disabilities, demonstrated greater average gains during CWPT than during teacher-led instruction, with the students with MMR and one student without a disability experiencing the greatest gains.
NOTE: This excerpt was taken from, Mortweet, S.L., Utley, C.A. Walker, D., Dawson, H.L., Delquadri, J.C., Reddy, S.S., Greenwood, C.R., Hamilton, S., & Ledford, D. (1999). "Classwide peer tutoring: Teaching students with mild mental retardation in inclusive classrooms." Exceptional Children, 65(4), pp. 524-536.