Key Takeaway: Teachers sometimes treat their students differently from one another, focusing more on the low-performing students. As a result, feedback is given to these students in a manner that directs and controls their learning, rather than encouraging higher-level thinking. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Eddie Denessen (University of Leiden), Annelies Keller (University of Leiden), Linda Van Den Bergh (Fontys University), and Paul Van Den Broek (University of Leiden) formed a hypothesis stating that there is a difference in how teachers treat their students and that teachers offer more frequent and challenging interactions to those students who have high academic achievements and a higher socioeconomic status. 

Educational policies are calling for more individualized and differentiated ways of teaching in order “to promote the learning opportunities of each individual student. To reach this goal, teaching should be tailored to individual students’ needs.”1 But to what extent are the student-teacher interactions free from bias? According to the authors, “with differential treatment of students, teachers may exacerbate or reduce achievement differences in their classroom.” This behavior may result in teachers “treating their high-expectation students more favorably.”

A study conducted in eight fourth-grade classrooms in the Netherlands indicated that there was indeed a difference in teacher-student interaction, but contrary to expectation, teachers “interact more frequently with their low-performing and low-expectation students.”

The study also examined the feedback that was given to the students in the class. “Feedback can be the most powerful tool to support students’ learning, but effects depend on the quality of the feedback interactions.” Effective feedback needs to be related to a goal and directly applicable to the learning habits and thought processes of the student. Feedback can be given either in a directive or facilitative way. When giving directive feedback, “teachers tell students how to process information . . . carry out a task . . . or they ask questions for which they expect a certain answer.” This method can be successfully used when a new concept is taught. However, with the use of facilitative feedback, “teachers prompt students to think by asking them open-ended questions or by giving them hints that facilitate learning,”2 and therefore help students to construct their knowledge. This type of feedback is used to foster higher-level thinking and learning. 

Ultimately, it was observed by the authors that “teachers showed a rather directive style of teaching, more targeted at weaker students in their classrooms.” The low-performing “students were given more turns and more feedback.” It was also noted that the teachers provided these students with directive feedback, indicating that teachers took more control over these students’ learning.

Summarized Article:

Denessen, E., Keller, A., Van Den Bergh, L., and Van Den Broek, P. (2020), Do Teachers Treat Their Students Differently? An Observational Study on Teacher-Student Interactions as a Function of Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement. Hindawi Education Research International, Vol 2020.

Summary by: Shekufeh – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. S. A. Parsons, M. Vaughn, R. Q. Scales et al., (2017). “Teachers’ instructional adaptations: a research synthesis,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 88, no. 2, pp. 205–242.
  2. J. M. Faber, C. A. W. Glas, and A. J. Visscher, (2018). “Differentiated instruction in a data-based decision-making context,” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 43–63. 

Key Takeaway: When students determine their own goals and design their own rubrics for measuring outcomes, goal attainment is dependent on whether the student’s rating or the teacher’s rating is utilized as the outcome measure. Further research is needed to determine why student and teacher ratings can diverge and to what degree these can be used to draw conclusions on the efficacy of interventions. —Akane Yoshida

The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) is “a teaching model implemented by teachers to enable their students to self-direct and self-regulate their actions in pursuit of goals” (Shogren et al., 2017). In this 2021 article, Shogren et al. analyze their findings from a 3-year trial in which they examined the impact of different educator supports for the implementation of SDLMI in inclusive, secondary core content classes. Students participating in the study were supported in creating their own Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) rubrics to rate themselves and to allow their teachers to rate them. 

The authors’ analysis sought to determine the following:

  1. How much agreement is there between student and teacher ratings of student goal attainment?
  2. Does the impact of different educator supports for the implementation of SDLMI on goal attainment outcomes vary across student and teacher ratings?
  3. Does the impact of student disability status on goal attainment outcomes vary across student and teacher ratings?

In relation to research question 1, the authors found that there was “only a fair amount” of agreement on student goal attainment outcomes, and those discrepancies were most pronounced where ratings suggested that outcomes were far less or far more than expected. Of this, the authors suggest:

Could it be that students and teachers are providing different perspectives, likely influenced by unique contextual factors, of goal attainment outcomes? Furthermore, how do student and teacher ratings correspond to actual student skills and use of these skills in general education classrooms? Are student or teacher ratings more aligned with actual performance?” 

In relation to research question 2, the authors conclude thus:

[T]he findings suggest a critical need to attend to the role of differing perceptions of outcomes in the analysis of intervention efficacy. When examining the impact of student versus teacher ratings in estimating the effect of teacher implementation supports, student ratings of goal attainment suggested a larger impact as teachers received more intensive supports for implementation.” 

With regards to research question 3, the impact of student disability status on differences in goal attainment ratings between students and teachers, the authors found that student disability status led to teachers giving substantially lower ratings of goal attainment compared to students, prompting them to wonder:

[D]o students overestimate their strengths while teachers identify areas of additional instructional needs and supports? Or are teachers’ expectations of students’ capacities shaped by students having an identified disability…Or are both meaningful yet independent, self-perceptions of outcomes that could predict observed outcomes in distinct ways?” 

The authors state the need for ongoing research to be conducted, to further explore how students with disabilities in inclusive settings can be supported to successfully engage in goal setting, as well as determine to what extent student ratings and teacher ratings are aligned with actual behavior in the classroom.

Summarized Article:

Shogren, K. A., Hicks, T. A., Raley, S. K., Pace, J. R., Rifenbark, G. G., & Lane, K. L. (2021). Student and teacher perceptions of goal attainment during intervention with the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction. The Journal of Special Education, 55(2), 101-112.

Summary by: Akane Yoshida — Akane believes that developing supportive and nurturing relationships with students is key to helping them to attain their personal benchmarks for success. She loves how the MARIO Framework operationalizes this process and utilizes systematic measurement of student learning and teacher effectiveness to guide interventions.

Additional References:

  1. Shogren, K. A., Wehmeyer, M. L., Burke, K. M., & Palmer, S. B. (2017). The Self-Determination Learning Model of Instruction: Teacher’s Guide. Lawrence, KS: Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities.

Key Takeaway: Co-teaching has the demonstrated potential to positively impact the experiences and academic performance of students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, yet numerous studies have demonstrated that without sufficient training, planning time, or instructional feedback, the potential gains are not consistently realized in practice. —Erin Madonna

What Was Shared: The purpose of Yazeed Alnasser’s study was to draw out general and special education teacher’s thoughts around co-teaching in inclusive classrooms, allowing for the identification of perceived barriers to effective co-teaching. Four co-teaching pairs, eight teachers in total, were observed and interviewed at a public elementary school in Colorado, USA. The study centered three questions:

  1. “How is co-teaching implemented in an inclusive elementary school classroom in Colorado?
  2. How do co-teachers justify their preferences regarding the models of co-teaching they utilise?
  3. How do co-teachers perceive the barriers that exist in the co-teaching environment of the inclusive classroom?”

Alnassar provides a thorough literature review that elucidates the following understandings:

  • Co-teaching refers to the inclusive practice of at least two educators delivering core instruction in partnership to a heterogeneous group of students within one setting.
  • Despite encompassing multiple models of delivery, the one teach and one assist model is the most commonly used approach to co-teaching.
  • Students with disabilities, who receive instruction in inclusive settings from a co-teaching team, outperformed like peers in segregated settings who did not receive co-teaching instruction.
  • Co-teaching is an approach which has been shown to benefit diverse populations of students, including English language learners and at-risk students.
  • Additional benefits of co-teaching include reduced stigma, increased access to the general education curriculum, a reduction of disruptive behaviors, and increased stability for teachers as they are working with peer support.
  • Thorough training is necessary in order for co-teaching pairs to provide highly effective instruction.
  • Limited planning time negatively impacts the quality of instruction co-teaching pairs can provide. 
  • Special educators often do not have equal status in co-teaching classrooms, with mutual respect and trust lacking in multiple studies. Consistently, in the reviewed studies, general education teachers took primary responsibility for the content while special educators supported through reteaching, providing accommodations and modifications, and managing behavior. 
  • Preparation prior to entering into a co-teaching relationship, including conversations around potential challenges, may mitigate threats to a functioning partnership.
  • “Despite rapid increase in popularity and use, co-teaching remains one of the most commonly misunderstood practices in education.”

Research Question (1): Three themes were drawn out of the observation data:

  • The number of students with IEPs in each classroom felt unmanageable, with every classroom having at least eight students receiving special education services.
  • Adjustment of the general education curriculum through accommodations, modifications, or differentiation, was largely the responsibility of the special educators with shared responsibility for providing these services only present in one observation. Almost universally, the teachers delivered verbal instruction and wrote on the white board without providing differentiation or sufficient accommodation or modification.
  • A one teach-one assist model was used in all observations, despite the model having limited support in literature. Parallel teaching was used for only 10 minutes in one observation.

Research Question (2): One primary theme arose from one-to-one interviews with the teachers:

  • The teachers justified their preference for the one teach-one assist model by pointing out that it was possible to implement without increased planning time, that it met their understanding of the roles the general education teacher (content delivery) and the special education teacher (adapting content) play, and that it was the easiest model to use.

Research Question (3): Four themes addressing barriers arose from one-to-one interviews with the teachers:

  • All teachers struggled to identify the vision or goal of co-teaching in their school.
  • The teachers shared that they either did not have shared planning time at all or that the amount of time they had was insufficient to effectively plan together.
  • All teachers shared that they would benefit from instructional feedback and coaching, with clear expectations in place. They did not feel that this level of administrative support was currently in place.
  • All teachers felt that they had insufficient professional development around co-teaching topics.

Alnasser discusses the following points and suggests actions that may improve the efficacy of co-teaching in inclusive classrooms:

  • When administrators are lacking knowledge of effective co-teaching, it is impossible for them to provide quality feedback or coaching to their staff.
  • In-depth professional development for both teachers and administrators is needed if implementing a co-teaching model.
  • “To make co-teaching successful, it is important to provide time for teachers to engage in co-planning.” Careful attention should be paid during scheduling to the balance of all learners within an inclusive setting to ensure caseloads are manageable.
  • “None of the participants were able to identify the school’s vision for co-teaching.” Developing a clear vision for co-teaching with actionable goals is necessary for success.

Co-teaching has the potential to be a transformative practice in inclusive classrooms if quality professional development and adequate planning time are provided, if administration engages in regular feedback cycles with their staff, and if the relationship between general education and special education teachers is collaborative and mutually respectful.

Summarized Article:

Alnasser, Y. A. (2021). The perspectives of Colorado general and special education teachers on the barriers to co-teaching in the inclusive elementary school classroom. Education 3-13, 49(6), 716–729. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2020.1776363

Summary by: Erin Madonna—Erin philosophically aligns with the MARIO Framework’s deeply rooted conviction 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 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: Families should be valued, and we should reconceptualize families as central stakeholders, seen and treated as significant contributors who have authority to influence and impact the trajectory of content and research decisions. This happens when teachers learn from parents who are actively involved in research, design, and inquiry. It shifts the focus by taking into account the family’s popular knowledge and wisdom—expertise that comes mainly from hands-on experiences based on their daily lives, experiences, and needs. —Jay Lingo

Summary: In this research article, Graff explores the Family as Faculty (FAF) approach which emerged out of family-centered care. The idea is to capitalize on the comprehensive knowledge that the families of children with disabilities possess about the children’s needs and strengths. This would create teachable moments for professionals through their personal stories as a way to better understand how to provide the best overall care for the child. This program is an intentional movement for teachers to communicate with families with a respectful understanding that there is value in learning more about the child’s disability through the family’s lens. This program aims to not only provide increased empathy but also effective communication, tolerance for diversity, and extraordinary commitment to partnership.

Despite the numerous advantages of the FAF program, Graff also recognizes that working together is often a complex and difficult process. Some of the main concerns raised in the article are: 

  • Anxiety or being defensive because of previous negative experiences
  • Continuous language and cultural barriers 
  • Being less successful in navigating special education systems for emerging multilinguals

These complexities are even amplified in the multiply marginalized families—families of color who have been historically minoritized on top of having children with disabilities. When assessments are often based on dominant Westernized notions of what educational progress and success looks like or when predominately White, non-disabled monolingual English-speaking teachers are assessing why their child is struggling, they are often viewed through deficit perspectives. This is also why the adaptation of FAF is treated with much urgency. Graff suggests that FAF will provide a platform for families to challenge the existing traditional power hierarchies in education and to question educational power structures that are directly impacting their children.

By making families co-investigators and co-educators, the family is repositioned as active agents of change rather than passive recipients. This partnership is critical when measuring educator impact and reflecting on our own power and privilege in relation to the students and families we are collaborating with.

Article Summarized:

Santamaría Graff, C. (2021). Co-investigation and co-education in ‘family as faculty’ approaches: A repositioning of power. Theory Into Practice, 60(1), 39-50.

Summary By: Jay Lingo