Key Takeaway: The implication of this study for educators is that utilizing peer-mediated interventions, within academic, SEL, and executive function lessons, is once again proven an evidence-based approach to increasing academic gains. Peer-mediated interventions may also have positive indirect effects on social-behavioral outcomes. —Erin Madonna

The primary purpose of this meta-analytic study by Moeyaert et al. (2019) was to contribute to the body of evidence addressing peer-tutoring’s impact on academic skill growth and social-behavior outcomes. This particular analysis investigated the direct and indirect effects of peer tutoring on students at risk of low achievement and students with disabilities, resulting in statistically significant implications for special education practice. 

The majority of the study participants were students with behavior disorders (36.59%), followed by students at risk or low achieving (29.1%), students with autism spectrum disorders (13.39%), students with learning disabilities (11.91%), students with intellectual disabilities (6.86%), and students who were deaf (1.95%). Of the 46 studies included, 13 focused on classwide peer-tutoring, 12 looked into reciprocal peer-tutoring models, and 21 reviewed the effects of non-reciprocal peer tutoring. Four moderators were factored into the analysis, including gender, age, study quality, and disability. 

Both the direct effects on academic performance and the indirect effects on social-behavior outcomes were measured. 

A large and statistically significant intervention effect size was noted for academic outcomes with social outcomes also seeing large effect sizes, just not to the magnitude of the academic results. While not statistically significant, there was some evidence found that the impact of the peer-mediated intervention may increase over time for academic skills. This trend was not observed for social-behavior outcomes. 

Peer-mediated interventions were found more effective for older students, age 10 and older. The gender effect was also observed to be large, indicating that peer-mediated interventions may be more impactful for female students than for male students. When moderating for disability, the largest effect size noted for academic skills was in the participant group identified as at-risk or low achieving. Students with learning disabilities saw the greatest indirect impact on social-behavioral outcomes. 

“For both academic and social outcomes, peer tutoring is less effective for children with intellectual disability.”

The authors conclude by addressing some limitations and implications of their study: 

  • There was significant variability between the social outcomes measured in the included studies. As a result, comparison of the social-behavior outcomes is more challenging than comparisons of academic skill development. This is a potential avenue for future research to explore further.
  • Alternative models of peer-mediated interventions, specifically addressing peer interaction, may have more impact on social-behavior outcomes than peer tutoring focused primarily on academic skills.
  • “Educators seeking to address the academic and social-behavioral outcomes of students with disabilities may wish to combine more than one type of peer-mediated interventions to concurrently improve the student’s academic and social-behavioral skills.”
  • “Further research is needed to determine the maintenance of the effects of peer tutoring and to establish whether the effects generalize to other outcomes.”

Despite the limitations “practitioners can consider peer tutoring as an evidence-based approach for improving the level or trend in students’ academic skills and level of students’ social-behavioral outcomes.”

Article Summarized:

Moeyaert, M., Klingbeil, D. A., Rodabaugh, E., & Turan, M. (2019). Three-level meta-analysis of single-case data regarding the effects of peer tutoring on academic and social-behavioral outcomes for at-risk students and students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 0741932519855079.

Summary by: Erin Madonna— Erin philosophically aligns with the MARIO Framework’s deeply rooted belief that all learners are capable, and she firmly believes in MARIO’s commitment to the use of evidence-based practices drawn from the field of current multidisciplinary research.

Key Takeaway: The core of personalized learning lies in the direct engagement with our learners through one-to-one sessions and one-to-one conferences. This engagement allows students to connect, identify, activate and be empowered throughout their personalized learning journey. —Michael Ho

Summary: Nick James Gore, Peter McGill, and Richard Patrick Hastings share their independent research study that examines the impact of direct engagements with learners who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).

The study aims to: 

1) guide learners to develop a goal selection procedure 

2) engage directly with children to identify personalized goals and priorities for their future support

Here are the major takeaways

  • The study had 14 participants, aged 4 to 15, go through a Talking Mat (TM) method. The TM method consists of a set of symbols relevant to a subject area; the participants were asked semi-open questions in relation to each symbol and invited to identify their views, feelings, and experiences on the corresponding mat. The researchers could interview 9 out of 14 children. These 9 children were able to understand the TM framework, as they were able to express their views and experiences and select personalized goals.
  • “Direct engagement with people who have intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) reflects the person-centered values of positive behavioral support (PBS) but also a human rights agenda.” Most of the time, PBS involves the family and other stakeholders to support the child. However, this study found that direct engagement with children who have IDD, which was reflected in the researchers’ guidance and their interaction with the participants during the TM sessions, is at the heart of PBS.
  • Overall, children in the study appeared “happy and confident to work with the researcher in the context of proactive supports.” This indicates that when adults are able to directly engage with and actively support the learner, students will become happier and build more self-confidence.
  • “Positive behavioral support (PBS) seeks to enhance skills, opportunities, environments and interactions in ways related to an individual’s specific needs and aspirations and reduce risk of behaviors that challenge over both the short and longer term”. As researchers engaged in direct engagement with the children and provided them with quality guidance, the opportunities, environments, and interactions of what makes up PBS are enhanced.
  • The study shows that the researchers’ direct engagement with children with IDD led to greater increase in the childrens’ choice-making opportunities and self-determination.
  • “This study provides initial evidence of the potential for direct engagement with children/young people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) through a structured process to identify priorities and goals for future behavioral support.” However, future policy in education should also emphasize direct engagement with learners who have specific needs.
  • The direct engagement between the researchers and children led to establishing a stronger relationship and rapport with both the children and their families.

This study had some limitations, such that the data from this study was not compared to data from other sources. It was also not possible to complete interviews with five other participants, all of whom had limited verbal skills or were non-verbal. Despite the limitations, this study provided evidence that one-to-one engagement with children with IDD led to the development of personalized goals

Further research is needed to engage in direct engagement with a wider range of learners and to examine how these goals could support development of effective interventions and assessments

Article Summarized:

Gore, N.J., McGill, P. & Hastings, R.P. Personalized Goals for Positive Behavioral Support: Engaging Directly with Children who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. J Child Fam Stud 30, 375–387 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01867-2

Summary By: Michael Ho – Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.