The Effect of Peer Tutoring in Physical Education for Middle School Students with Severe Disabilities

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DOI: 10.5507/euj.2015.005
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Abstract
This study assessed the effect of peer tutoring on physical, instructional and social interaction behaviors between middle school age students with severe and multiple disabilities (SMD) and peers without disabilities. Additional measures addressed the activity time of students with SMD. The study was conducted in inclusive general physical education settings under two instructional support conditions for students with SMD: (a) teacher-directed, and (b) peer-mediated. During teacher-directed conditions students with SMD had frequent interactions with education personnel while interactions with peers were minimal. When peer –mediated conditions were implemented, the interactions between target students and trained peer tutors increased, however, data did not present stability and clear trend. The trained peer tutors delivered fewer instructions during intervention than teachers during baseline. The activity engagement time did not change across the two conditions for both students with SMD. The social interactions remained low throughout the study.
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European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity, 8(2), 317
© European Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, 2015
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 3
The Effect of Peer Tutoring in Physical Education for Middle School Students
with Severe Disabilities
Aija Klavina, Ph.D., Karina Rodionova
Academy of Sport Education of Latvia
This study assessed the effect of peer tutoring on physical, instructional and social interaction
behaviors between middle school age students with severe and multiple disabilities (SMD) and peers
without disabilities. Additional measures addressed the activity time of students with SMD. The study
was conducted in inclusive general physical education settings under two instructional support
conditions for students with SMD: (a) teacher-directed, and (b) peer-mediated. During teacher-
directed conditions students with SMD had frequent interactions with education personnel while
interactions with peers were minimal. When peer mediated conditions were implemented, the
interactions between target students and trained peer tutors increased, however, data did not present
stability and clear trend. The trained peer tutors delivered fewer instructions during intervention than
teachers during baseline. The activity engagement time did not change across the two conditions for
both students with SMD. The social interactions remained low throughout the study.
Key words: peer tutoring, severe and multiple disabilities, physical education
Physical education (PE) implements
physical education curricula and instruction that
emphasizes enjoyable participation in physical
activity and helps students develop the
knowledge, attitudes, motor and behavioral
skills, and confidence needed to improve
physical fitness and adopt and maintain
physically active lifestyles (CDC, 2008). In
middle school students are expected to
experience positive, challenging and enjoyable
physical activities while learning skills and
developing an understanding of the benefits and
importance of physical activity. In conjunction
with these activity experiences, students develop
a positive self-image and social skills that will
provide personal competence in work and
leisure situations. Furthermore, high-quality
physical education is both developmentally and
instructionally relevant for all students,
including those with disabilities (NASPE,
2007). Moreover, researchers (Cotton, 1995;
McKenzie, Marshall, Sallis & Conway, 2000;
Wehmeyer & Agran, 2006) have indicated that
teachers should engage in a variety of teaching
behaviors to increase quality of student learning
and recognize students’ development as well as
their individual differences. For example,
providing frequent opportunities to respond
(e.g., error corrections, providing feedback to a
peer).
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and
the reauthorization of the Individuals With
Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004
(IDEA 2004) require teachers to use research-
based practices and instructional arrangements
when including students with disabilities in their
classes (Odom et al., 2005). This is challenging
when teaching students with severe and multiple
disabilities (SMD) in physical education (PE).
First, there is limited research-based information
on how to include students with SMD in
physical education. While special education
literature provides rich set of studies on how to
meet students’ with SMD education needs in
classroom arrangement (Cushing & Kennedy,
1997; Cushing, Clark, Carter, & Kennedy, 2005;
Jackson, Ryndak, & Wehmeyer, 2008/2009),
the active nature of the learning environment in
Klavina, Rodionova
4 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
a gym or sport field significantly differs from
classroom settings. Second, these students
typically have poor cognitive, social, motor
development, or adaptive behavior skills (Hunt,
Alwell, Farron Davis, & Goetz, 1996),
therefore, it is challenging for them to learn
skills and knowledge required in middle school
PE class (e.g., play basketball in the team)
(Block 1992).
Participation is central concept in inclusive
education, however the definition of “inclusion”
is not so easily stated and therefore debated
(Armstrong & Spandagou 2011; Hedegaard,
2012). For example, Law et al. (2007) have
formulated participation in activities as the
context in which children form friendships,
develop skills and competencies, express
creativity, achieve mental and physical health,
and determine meaning and purpose in life.
Furthermore, Brown and Gordon (1987) have
indicated that children with disabilities tend to
be more restricted in their participation than
their peers and the gap widens as they become
adults. Regarding teaching and peer culture in
middle schools the dynamics of peer
relationships and the nature of teacher
instructional delivery vary considerably from
what students encountered in elementary school
(Rubin, Bukowski, & Laursen, 2009). Evans,
Salisbury, Palombaro, Berryman, and
Hollywood (1992) found that social acceptance
is not associated only with students’ intellectual
functioning, but it is more affected by the
learning environment where education services
are provided. Furthermore, Goodwin and
Watkinson (2000) found that factors
contributing to participation and positive
experience for students with physical disabilities
in general physical education (GPE) were a
sense of belonging and companionship.
The process of students teaching their peers
is one of the oldest forms of collaborative
learning. Several studies have indicated that
peer tutoring can be used as effective
instructional accommodation to improve
academic outcome of students with disabilities
(Houston-Wilson et al., 1997; Lieberman et al.,
1997, 2000; Murata & Jansma, 1997) and
increase interactions between peers with and
without severe disabilities (Klavina & Block,
2008) in inclusive PE. As indicated above,
regarding peer tutoring for students with SMD,
many special education studies have explored
peer support instructional arrangements to
increase students’ with SMD engaged time and
academic success in classroom setting (Hudson,
Browder, & Wood, 2013; Okilwa, 2010). The
research on peer support provided for students
with SMD in inclusive PE has been minimal.
However, the results from special education
studies done in classrooms (Greenwood et al.,
2002; Hudson et al., 2013; Yun Ching, Carter,
& Sisco, 2013) are in line with adapted physical
education studies demonstrating more frequent
interactions between peers and students with
SMD during peer tutoring than during teacher
instruction (Klavina, 2008; Klavina & Block,
2008).
This study aimed to explore the effect of
instructional accommodation of peer tutoring on
interaction behaviors between middle school
students with and without severe and multiple
disabilities in inclusive physical education.
Method
Participants and Setting. Two middle
school students with severe and multiple
disabilities participated in this study. To select
target students, purposive sampling design
(Goetz & Le Compte, 1984) was used including
students who were (a) representative of persons
with SMD, (b) participated in GPE sessions
with support of adult personnel (e.g., APE
instructor, teacher assistant), and (c) expected to
increase participation in PE activities with age
appropriate peers as indicated in their Individual
Education Plan (IEP) for physical education
(IEP-PE). In this study students with SMD were
addressed as Jimmy and Carl (pseudonyms).
Both target students attended special education
classroom for more than 60% of their school
day.
Peer Tutoring
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 5
Jimmy was 14 years old boy with cerebral
palsy (spastic tetraplegia), mild intellectual
disability and very limited vocabulary. He
needed physical assistance in all activities
during GPE class (e.g., following directions,
participating in individual tasks, or games).
Jimmy used automatic wheelchair to move
around. His current IEP-PE objectives included
goals related to his participation in GPE
activities together with peers given moderate
verbal and physical assistance. Carl was 12
years old boy with severe cerebral palsy and
intellectual disabilities. He also had severe
speech difficulties. His current IEP-PE goals
included objectives related to gross motor skills
and participation in collaborative games with
peers without disabilities. Classmates seemed to
like him, although it was challenging for them
to do activities together, or to communicate with
Carl. He had iPad communication board
attached to his wheelchair handle to interact
with others. Carl liked to show photos and
“talk” to classmates using text messages
available on the screen. Sometimes teacher
assistant removed the iPad from Carl’s chair
because he was more interested in iPad than to
follow instructions provided by teacher. Both
target students received related services, speech
and language therapy, physical therapy and
occupational therapy. Both students with SMD
were included in the GPE class for full time.
However, often they came about 10 -15 minutes
late to gym and/or had to leave earlier because
of their individual schedule and needs (e.g.,
longer lunch time, toileting, school bus
schedule).
Five general education students served as
peer tutors (two for Jimmy and three for Carl).
To select peer tutors, the general physical
educators were asked to identify students who
they perceived would work well with the target
student and were willing to provide support
during PE. Although, no other criteria were used
for selecting potential peer tutors, teachers
considered peers who had interacted with
student with SMD in the past. All selected peers
agreed when asked.
All students received the parents consent
forms. In addition, they were required to have
parental permission to be video recorded.
The GPE classes taught by GPE teachers
were 90 minutes in length and held two to three
times per week for each class. Class sizes were
about 20-25 students. The GPE program was
based on fitness components and skills
progression on each unit organized for 1 - 2
weeks. For example, the soccer unit, then
athletics, and then followed by baseball unit.
The classes consisted 10-15 minutes of the
warm-up period, 50 - 60 minutes of the main
part, and 10 -15 minutes of games and teachers’
feedback at the end of class. The APE service in
this study was provided by two graduate
students and special education personnel (three
teacher assistants) who also assisted students
with SMD throughout their school day.
The collaboration between GPE teachers,
the researcher and assistance personnel during
GPE classes differed among target students.
Carl’s teacher assistant collaborated with the
researcher in identifying target skills and
initiating Carl’s interactions with peers. Also,
the general PE teacher planned PE sessions so
that Carl could involve and be part of the team
or group work. Jimmy had two teacher
assistants during study. The one collaborated
with the researcher in initiating and monitoring
interaction behaviors between peer tutors and
Jimmy, while the other did not present much
interest in this study and had little to no contact
with the researcher. Also, his general PE teacher
did not make a strong effort to provide activities
facilitating opportunities for Jimmy to interact
with peers.
Peer Tutor Training
The both groups of peer tutors received
three 20 minutes training sessions. They were
organized before PE class at the gym. The peer
tutor training sessions were adopted from the
model used by Klavina and Block (2008). The
Klavina, Rodionova
6 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
content was changed appropriate to middle
school students’ age. For example, it included
topics on how to adapt and modify PE activities
to facilitate meaningful participation of the
student with SMD; how to address the peer with
SMD IEP-PE goals within the activity in the
physical education class; how to provide
prompts and frequent, positive feedback; and
how to facilitate interactions with other students
in the class in ways that provide alternatives to
dependence on paraprofessionals (Reardon,
2008). During first sessions the researcher
explained students the study project and what
will be their role in it. Then, they discussed
what it means to be a peer tutor and how he/or
she should behave. Also, rules and roles of
being a peer tutor were discussed (e.g., being
friendly, talk softly, and providing praises). At
the end of session confidentiality and safety
issues were explained. All peer tutors received
peer tutor manual and were encouraged to read
it at home. The second and third session was
organized during GPE sessions including the
student with SMD. The researcher notified the
teaching personnel (GPE teachers, teacher
assistants) that peer tutors and the student with
SMD will be assigned to work together at some
activities during PE. For example, when all
students practiced basketball drills, the
researcher asked peer tutors to assist Jimmy in
throwing the soft- ball in the hula-hoop in front
of him. One peer tutor held the hula-hoop while
other passed balls back to Jimmy. The
researcher reminded tutors to follow the five
TIP-TAP (Tips for Teaching, Assisting and
Practicing, Klavina & Block, 2008) steps from
the manual: (1) instructions (e.g., cues,
prompts), (2) demonstration, (3) physical
assistance, (4) feedback, and (5) error
correction. The peer tutor training implemented
in GPE activities provided students with and
without disabilities opportunity to interact
appropriate to the real GPE class situation.
Dependent Variables
The primary dependent variables were
instructional, physical and social interaction
behaviors between students with SMD and their
peers, and teaching personnel across two study
phases: (1) teacher directed, and (2) peer-
mediated conditions. Physical interaction
behaviors encompassed one-to-one interactions
related to the GPE activities, or IEP-PE
objectives for student with SMD. Instructional
interaction behaviors were any verbal, or non-
verbal instructions received from/or directed to
other(s) in order to complete the task related to
GPE (e.g., prompts, demonstration of the task,
providing error correction, providing
assistance). Social interaction behaviors
included verbal or nonverbal communication on
content not related to GPE (e.g., talking about
TV shows, or after school activities, or
discussing pictures on the students’ with SMD
iPad). While social behaviors were not related to
the GPE, they might affect social acceptance
and relationships between students with SMD
and their peers without disabilities (Block &
Malloy, 1998; Sherrill, Heikinaro-Johansson, &
Slininger, 1994). In addition, the data of activity
engagement time for the two target students
with SMD was obtained and analyzed.
Experimental Design and Data Collection
To evaluate the effect of the peer tutoring
intervention, a single subject multiple baseline
research design across participants was used
(Gast, 2010). The experimental design included
two phases: (1) baseline, or teacher directed, and
(2) intervention, or peer- mediated phase. It
should be noted that few (1-2 PE classes)
prebasline sessions were used in each research
site to allow participants an opportunity to
become familiar to a researcher with a camera
before starting the data collection. To determine
effect of peer tutoring, the intervention was
implemented across students and the mean,
level, and trend changes in interaction behavior
outcomes were defined. In addition, the activity
engagement time for the two target students was
compared between the two instructional
conditions.
In this study data were collected for a total of 25
GPE sessions (11 for Jimmy and 14 for Carl).
Peer Tutoring
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 7
The length of each observation session was
about 40 minutes. All observation sessions were
collected on videotapes with the use of the
SONY Digital Handycam. The student with
SMD wore a wireless microphone to enable the
first author to monitor interaction behaviors.
During teacher-directed (i.e., baseline)
conditions the teacher assistant or APE students
provided assistance to students with disabilities
applying the same instructional strategies they
used with their students before the study. No
additional instructions were given to teachers,
thus, data were obtained from intact inclusive
GPE sessions. During peer-mediated
instructional conditions the APE teacher or
teacher assistant initiated tutoring procedures
assigning the peer tutor(s) to assist the student
with SMD. Then, he or she monitored tutoring
activities from about a 3-5 m distance. Also, it
was ensured that each peer tutor provides help
to the student with SMD for about 10-15
minutes so that none of the tutors would get
tired or overwhelmed during the tutoring
process. Then other tutor took turn, or teacher
involved other students (volunteers) willing to
help the target student. Otherwise, the teacher
assisted the target student. The peer support
depended on class content, ability level of
students and other characteristics that might
influence students’ performance. Peer tutors
were reminded to call for teachers’ help if they
did not know how to adapt activity or had
questions about tutoring procedure. The APE
teacher prompted the peer tutor to interact with
the student with SMD if no interactions were
occurring for about 20 seconds during the
tutoring period. The teacher praised both the
peer tutor and the student with SMD on
successful partnership and collaboration to help
maintain students’ confidence and enjoyment
during tutoring (Cole, 1988; Logan et al., 1998).
In addition, ongoing feedback was provided to
peer tutors after each GPE class to correct
interaction behaviors and improve the ways they
provided teaching instructions.
Data Analyses
The Computerized Evaluation Protocol of
Interactions in Physical Education (CEPI-PE)
(Klavina & Block, 2008; Klavina, 2011) was
used to analyze the video sessions. The tool is a
computer based observations schedule with 24
variables classified in three subcategories: (1)
instructional, (2) physical, and (3) social
interactions. The CEPI-PE categorical variables
have been validated for its use in inclusive GPE
setting (Klavina, 2011). In this study dependent
measures included the physical, instructional
and social interaction behaviors between
teachers, students with and without disabilities.
The mean percentage of combined interaction
behaviors between students with and without
disabilities in GPE was measured across two
instructional conditions. The five-second
observation and five-second record partial
interval system was applied. The obtained data
were analyzed based on percentage mean scores.
To identify the effect of intervention the
Improvement Rate Difference (IRD) was
calculated. The IRD is defined as the
improvement rate (IR) of the treatment phase(s)
minus the improvement rate of the baseline
phase(s): IRT IRB = IRD (Cochrane
Collaboration, 2006; Sackett, Richardson,
Rosenberg, & Haynes, 1997). Very small and
questionable effects scores about 50% and
below. Moderate-size effects have IRD scores of
around 50 % to 70 %. Effects rated as large and
very large generally have IRD scores of 70 % or
75 % and higher (Parker, Vannest & Brown,
2009). In addition, differences in interaction
behaviors for participants across study
conditions were compared by the Wilkoxon test.
Data analysis was performed using SPSS
version 20.0 for Windows. Statistical
significance was set at p < .05.
Reliability
Inter observer agreement was assessed with
a trained second observer for an average of 30%
(28% - 32%) of all observations. A second
observer, graduate student in adapted physical
Klavina, Rodionova
8 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
activities, independently observed and recorded
data. Point-by-point agreement was calculated
by dividing the number of agreements by the
number of agreements plus disagreements and
multiplying by 100%. Overall, the mean and
range of percentage agreement across
participants was 95.5 % (92.1 % - 100%).
Social Validity
After concluding the study, the researcher
conducted survey with the GPE teachers, the
teacher assistants, the graduate APE students,
and peer tutors. The purpose of the survey was
to obtain information on teacher’s and GPE
students’ opinions of the peer tutoring study.
This information was intended be used to
improve peer-tutoring strategies with students
with SMD in GPE and plan future research
studies.
Results
During GPE periods under teacher-directed
instructional conditions (i.e., baseline) the
scores for interaction behaviors between
students with and without SMD and teachers
were variable (Figure 1, A- B). The mean
percentage of intervals when Jimmy had
interactions with the adult teaching personnel
(e.g., teacher assistant or APE student) was 71.8
% (range, 62.0% 79.0%), while interactions
with prospective peer tutors was only 4.3 %
(range, .0 % 12.2 %) and with other peers 2.4
% (range, .0 % - 7.5 %). The mean percentage
of intervals when Carl had interactions with the
adult teaching personnel during baseline also
was higher than interactions with not trained
peer tutors and other peers (M= 45.5 %. range,
12.5% - 68.2 %; M = 18.0%, range, .0 % -
32.5%; M = 16.7 %, range, 10.0% -34.2 %,
respectively). However, Carl had more
interactions with peers than Jimmy. This
variability may be attributed to the alternating
involvement of random general education
students in interactions with students with SMD
in each site. In contrast, the interaction
behaviors with adult support personnel were
high for both target students (range, 12.5 % to
79.0 %). It should be noted that obtained data
did not include intervals when there were no
interactions performed by the observed
participant (e.g., waiting time).
Figure 1(A). Percentage of intervals when Jimmy interacted with teacher, peer tutors, and other peers
across teacher-directed and peer-mediated instructional conditions.
0
20
40
60
80
100
1 4 7 10 13 16 19
Percentage of Intervals
Teacher
Peer Tutors
Other peers
Jimmy
Peer Tutoring
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 9
Figure 1 (B). Percentage of intervals when Carl interacted with teacher, peer tutors, and other peers
across teacher-directed and peer-mediated instructional conditions.
Figure 1(A,B) illustrates that at beginning
of the intervention phase introduction of peer-
mediated instructional conditions resulted in an
immediate increase in interaction behaviors with
peer tutors for both target students. However,
these data patterns did not present stability and
predictability throughout the intervention
sessions. For Jimmy there was visibly high
frequency of interactions with peer tutors during
first part of intervention while it regressed
towards end of the study. The mean percentage
of intervals when Jimmy was involved in
behavior interactions with trained peer tutors
was 51.5 % (range, 13.3 % - 82.0 %). Carl’s
data trends for scores of interactions with peer
tutors during intervention were fairly flat,
however, presenting higher level comparing to
the baseline. The mean percentage of intervals
when Carl was involved in behavior interactions
with trained peer tutors was 41.6 % (range, 23.4
% 65.0 %). Furthermore, mean scores for
interaction behaviors between students with
SMD and other peers were slightly higher
during peermediated than in teacher-directed
conditions. For Jimmy the mean percentage of
intervals in interactions with other peers was 6.1
% (range, .0 % 23.3 %), while for Carl the
mean score was 12.3 % (range, .0% -34.8 %)
that was lower than in baseline (M = 16.7 %).
For both target students interaction behaviors
with adult support personnel was significantly
lower in intervention than in baseline phase. For
Jimmy the mean score was 20.2 % (range, 4.0 %
to 38.4 %) and for Carl 23.9 % (range, .0 %
46.6 %). Students and teachers in this study did
not provide any negative social interactions. The
social interaction behaviors between target
students, peer tutors and teachers remained low
throughout the study (range, .08% - 16. 7%)
indicating minimal interactions not related to
GPE content among participants.
Figure 2 illustrates instructional interaction
behaviors (e.g., providing prompts, physical
assistance, feedback) demonstrated by education
personnel and peer tutors. While during
intervention instructional behaviors significantly
increased for peer tutors of Jimmy and Carl (M
= 29.5 % and M = 9.1 %, respectively), they
were less frequent than instructions provided by
teachers during baseline. The number of
instructions provided to Carl by peer tutors and
teachers during both study conditions (range, .0
% - 20% for peer tutors; and range, 2.0 27.2 %
for teachers). Overall, there was not significant
difference between mean percentage of
instructions provided by teachers during
baseline and peer tutors during intervention
across the two research sites (p < .05).
0
20
40
60
80
100
1 4 7 10 13 16 19
Percentage of Intervals
Teacher
Peer Tutor
Other peers
Carl
Klavina, Rodionova
10 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
Figure 2. Mean percentage of intervals in instructional interactions for peer tutors and teachers across
teacher-directed and peer-mediated instructional conditions.
Activity Engagement Time
Figure 3 illustrates that Jimmy and Carl
maintained similar percentage of activity
engagement time throughout baseline and
intervention phase (62.4% - 60.8% and 53.4% -
60.7 %, accordingly). The Wilcoxon test
reported not significant change in results across
study phases (p > .05).
Figure 3. Mean percentage of intervals in active engagement time for students with SMD across teacher-
directed and peer-mediated instructional conditions.
The Improvement rate difference
The Improvement rate difference (IRD)
scores for interaction behaviors of students with
and without disabilities between baseline and
intervention conditions are presented in Table 1.
For Jimmy the gain in improvement rate for
interaction behaviors with peer tutors from the
baseline to the intervention was 100 % gain,
which is significant level of change, while with
other peers the gain in interaction improvement
rate was only 2% indicating not significant
change. For Carl the gain in improvement rate
for interaction behaviors with peer tutors from
the baseline to the intervention was 40 % gain,
which is not significant level of change. The
gain in interaction improvement rate with other
peers also was not significant (IRD = 22 %).
0
20
40
60
Baseline
Intervention
Baseline
Intervention
Jimmy Carl
Percentage of Intervals
Peer tutors
Teacher
0
20
40
60
80
100
Jimmy Carl
Percentage of Intervals
Baseline
Intervention
Peer Tutoring
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 11
Table 1. IRD scores for interaction behaviors between study conditions
Interactions with
Peer Tutors
Interactions with
other peers
Jimmy
100%
2%
Carl
40%
22%
Social Validity
Six teachers and five peer tutors involved in
this study completed their surveys. Three
teachers (two general PE teachers and one
teacher assistant) indicated that study was
beneficial for students with SMD improving
their independence, increasing interactions with
classmates and providing more access to needed
support. However, all teachers reported that it
was evident that students with SMD enjoyed
being assisted by their classmates from the
beginning of intervention sessions. One
challenge cited by Jimmie’s teachers related to
his involvement in interaction behaviors with
other peers indicating limited improvement.
Regarding peer tutors’ performance, teachers
reported positive acceptance of classmates with
SMD. Carl’s teachers indicated that his peers
provided spontaneous and natural positive
interactions toward Carl, while Jimmie’s peers
interacted with him when directed by the teacher
to do so. Some teachers commented “it was a
positive experience for all students.” When
asked about the applicability of peer tutoring for
students with SMD in GPE setting, all teachers’
responses were in agreement that it was feasible
to implement the intervention in GPE
environment, however, should be planned
earlier and implemented from beginning of the
school year. Finally, teachers recommended that
peer tutoring should involve more peer tutors so
that each general education student would have
a chance helping the classmate with SMD.
When peer tutors were asked about their
experience in the study, all of them reported
personal benefits, recognizing contributions of
peers with disabilities, a greater understanding
of persons with severe disabilities, and
improved social skills. Three tutors reported that
they did not know about peer tutoring before
this study. Some tutors anecdotally noted that
during study they realized that their classmate
with SMD was capable “of doing many things
together with other classmates.” When asked to
indicate the most challenging experience,
Jimmie’s tutors mentioned their worries with
some safety aspects for Jimmy. All five tutors
indicated that they would like to participate in
peer tutoring activities in future.
Discussion
This study demonstrated the effect of peer
tutoring on the interaction behaviors between
middle school students with and without SMD
in inclusive GPE setting. The significance of
such studies rests with the fact that peer
interactions and peer acceptance become
increasingly important as students approach
adolescence (Cassidy & Asher, 1992), and
disabilities in school-age children are associated
with long-term negative personal and vocational
outcomes (Edgar & Levine, 1987; Sitlington,
Frank, & Carson, 1991, 1992).
The data of interaction behaviors collected
under teacher-directed (baseline) conditions
indicated high level of interactions between
Jimmy and adults ranging 62.0 % to 79.0 %,
while for Carl data were variable, ranging from
12.5 % to 68.2 %. Anecdotal notes indicated
that Jimmy often was taken to side of the gym to
work on individual skills with the teacher
assistant. For example, while other general
education students practiced volleyball drills,
teacher assistant gave Jimmy softball and ask
him to hit it into empty trashcan. They did this
activity for about 15 minutes while none of
Klavina, Rodionova
12 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
peers interacted with Jimmy. These findings are
consistent with other studies including students
with SMD in classroom (Carter et al., 2010;
Chan et al., 2009) and in GPE setting (Klavina
& Block, 2008). Authors have noted that
prolonged close proximity of adult support
personnel adversely affect interactions between
students with and without disabilities while at
the same time increase social isolation and loss
of independence for students with disabilities
(Causton-Theoharis & Malmgren, 2005;
Giangreco et al., 1997, 1999, 2001). Moreover,
in many cases teacher assistant decided about
activities for Jimmy according what she
observed other students were doing. Also, she
had limited or no communication with the GPE
teacher on how to modify and adapt GPE
activities for Jimmy’s needs to make his
participation more inclusive. These observations
supported findings of other authors reporting
that paraeducators lack training and knowledge
on how to involve the student with disabilities in
GPE activities (Maurer, 2004) while GPE
teachers have indicated that they are not
inadequately prepared and/or lacking support
and resources to effectively teach students with
more severe disabilities (Hodge, Amman,
Casebolt, Lamaster, & O’Sullivan, 2010). In
contrast, Carl’s classmates, including
prospective peer tutors, occasionally interacted
with him during baseline and continued provide
positive interactions throughout the study. Also,
the teacher assistant encouraged random peers
to be Carl’s partners initiating interaction
behaviors between students.
When peer-mediated conditions containing
trained peer tutor intervention were initiated,
interaction behaviors between target students
and peer tutors raised immediately across the
two research sites (see Figure 1, A-B). The
visual inspection of graphed data for Jimmy
revealed that data points of the peer-mediated
condition did not overlapped with those of the
teacher-directed conditions indicating
significant level of change (IRD = 100%).
However, these findings should be addresses
with caution since intervention data line did not
present stability and clear trend. While Jimmie’s
peer tutors were involved in frequent
interactions with him during first three
intervention sessions, collaboration between
students regressed as study progressed. This
might be explained by the variability in the
content (e.g., group activities, or assessment)
and environment (e.g., indoor vs. outdoor) of
GPE sessions that affected interactions.
Anecdotal notes indicated that at the beginning
of intervention the GPE teacher used more
collaboration directed activities in small groups
contributing implementation of peer tutoring
procedures. However, at later stage of
intervention she planned skill assessments as
end of semester approached that limited
opportunities for tutors to interact with Jimmy.
Also, anecdotal notes indicated that peer tutors
joined Jimmy in activities only when directed
by the assistant teacher or researcher. The visual
inspection of graphed data for Jimmy revealed
that in some sessions, where the score for
interactions with peer tutors was low, the score
for interactions with teacher was high or vice
versa indicating the behavior interaction rates
between the teacher assistant and tutors. In
contrast to Klavina & Block (2008) research,
this study presented low interactions between
Jimmy and other peers throughout the study
(IRD = 2%). Other studies have indicated that,
while middle school students are willing to form
friendships with peers with severe disabilities,
they might not know how to behave in the
company of a peer with a severe disability.
Hendrikcson et al. (1996) recommended that
friendship between students with and without
severe disabilities should be facilitated through
teacher accommodations, facilitative teaching
styles, and a facilitative school climate.
For Carl the mean percentage of intervals in
interactions with peer tutors during intervention
was lower than for Jimmy (M = 41.6 % and M =
51.5 %, respectively). Although, thelevel
remained higher than in baseline, the data were
inconsistent throughout the study and did not
Peer Tutoring
EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2 13
present clear trend. However, Carl had more
interactions with other peers than Jimmy (M =
12.3%, M = 6.1%, respectively). Furthermore,
the visual inspection of graphed data for Carl
revealed that part of the data points of the peer-
mediated condition overlapped with those of the
teacher-directed conditions. The IRD scores
indicated not significant level of change
between Carl and peer tutors (IRD = 40%) and
other peers (IRD = 22%) across the two study
conditions. However, these results should not
be perceived as negative study outcome. The
anecdotal notes indicated that general education
students in this class demonstrated positive
attitudes and desire to help the peers with
disabilities. Also, this class included two other
students with moderate and mild disabilities.
The APE teacher or teacher assistant often asked
random general education students to assist
these students while he/ or she was helping Carl.
Students and teachers did not demonstrate any
negative social interactions in this study.
According Klavina and Block (2008) the Model
of Multiple Component Interaction in inclusive
GPE, the use of peers as a natural support may
be one way to utilize individualized goals of the
students with SMD, and facilitate natural
interaction behaviors between peers with and
without SMD.
In contrast to previous studies on peer
tutoring for elementary school age students with
SMD in GPE (Klavina 2008; Klavina & Block,
2008), the peer tutors delivered fewer
instructions during intervention than teachers
during baseline. However, there was not
significant difference between the mean
percentage of instructions provided by teachers
during baseline and peer tutors during
intervention across the two research sites (p <
.05). Also, the findings in this study did not
support outcomes of special education research
by Odom et al. (1992) indicating that teachers
used more prompts and reinforcement at the
beginning of the peer support intervention,
while later the teachers’ involvement gradually
decreased. For example, Carl’s teacher assistant
maintained about the same level of instructions
throughout the study. This might be explained
by the fact that introduction of peer tutoring was
new instructional accommodation for all
participants, including education personnel, and
it might take more time for teachers to get used
to the new teaching strategies.
The activity engagement data showed not
significant change in results for target students
across teacher-directed and peer mediated
conditions. The support provided by trained
peer tutors and other classmates did not
adversely affect activity engagement level for
students with SMD overall. While these
findings did not support other studies reporting
increase in the activity engagement time for
students with disabilities under peer-mediated
support conditions (Huoston-Wilson et al.,
1997; Klavina & Block, 2008; Lieberman et al.,
1997, 2000; Murata & Jansma, 1997), the
results indicated that peer tutoring did not have
adverse impact on academic performance of
students with SMD.
Limitations and Implications for Future
Research
There were several limitations noted in this
study. First, the small accessible population
restricted the sample selection from the “larger”
pool of students with SMD included in GPE
class. The further research is needed to
investigate effects of the peer tutoring
intervention across a wider variety of
participants, settings, and age groups. The study
outcome indicated that during intervention
sessions Jimmy increased interaction behaviors
with peer tutors, while interactions with other
peers were low. The future studies should focus
on key components of participation while
implementing peer-mediated accommodations
in inclusive GPE session. Also, the future
research could replicate this study
investigating if specific teacher and student
context variables (e.g., teaching culture, peer
culture) influence the effectiveness of peer-
mediated strategies. Another limitation was
Klavina, Rodionova
14 EUJAPA, Vol. 8, No. 2
related to the time of a school year (second
half) and activities used during GPE sessions
during study. The outcomes of the study
utilizing peer tutoring across GPE sport
program in prolonged time period (e.g., from
beginning of the school year) might have
been different.
This study did not focus on academic skill
acquisition measures demonstrated by tutors and
tutees. As noted by authors (i.e., Murata &
Jansma, 1997; Lieberman et al., 1997, 2000),
implementation of peer tutoring strategies in the
GPE class did not adversely affect, and even
improved (Lieberman et al., 2000) the academic
skills for both peer tutors and tutees. Future
studies should investigate the relationship
between the academic achievements and
interaction behaviors for students with and
without disabilities as the result of peer tutoring
interventions.
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