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Classwide Peer Tutoring: Teaching Students with Mild Mental Retardation in Inclusive Classrooms.

A range of perspectives on inclusive education for students with disabilities has been voiced by disability groups, advocacy and professional organizations, and special and general educators. To determine the extent to which inclusive education programs are successful, large-scale research and evaluation studies by school districts have been conducted. These findings indicated that a strong trend exists toward improved student outcomes across a variety of domains for students with disabilities and their typical peers in inclusive classroom settings (Lipsky & Gartner, 1996). The results of these studies on students' academic outcomes have revealed the following conclusions:, (a) students with severe disabilities have higher levels of academic responses and lower levels of competing behaviors when they are in general education classroom settings compared with the special education setting (Hollowood, Salisbury, Rainforth, & Palombaro, 1994; Hunt, Farron-Davis, Beckstead, Curtis, & Goetz, 1994; Keefe & VanEtten, 1994); and (b) students with learning disabilities made academic gains in scores on criterion-referenced tests in general education classroom settings (Chase & Pope, 1993; Jenkins, Jewell, O'Connor, Jenkins, & Troutner, 1994).

Despite the movement towards inclusion, only 9.7% of students with mental retardation are educated primarily in general education classrooms (U.S. Department of Education, 1997). One possible reason for the continuing placement of students with mild mental retardation (MMR) in self-contained and resource room settings may be that the label, mild mental retardation, influences teachers' educational decisions to place them in restrictive classroom settings (Heward, 1996). In addition, the cognitive characteristics associated with mild mental retardation such as slow learning rates, failure to identify relevant features of tasks, difficulty responding spontaneously to newly learned material, and difficulty regularizing learned skills to new situations (Noonan & Siegel-Causey, 1990) make learning very difficult. Because of these learning characteristics, general educators may perceive that students with mild mental retardation need excessive teacher time and consequently, that they are unable to meet the instructional needs of these students. Furthermore, general educators may also feel that they do not have the necessary instructional tools to effectively teach these students. Thus, instructional strategies that are both effective for improving academic achievement as well as feasible for use by general educators in inclusive classrooms must be made more readily available.

To create a successful educational environment for students with mild mental retardation in inclusive classrooms, the following instructional components are essential for maximizing academic achievement: (a) teacher-directed group formats, (b) high levels of student engagement, (c) student-teacher interactions, (d) appropriate pacing of lessons, (e) questioning and feedback, and (f) structured use of peers (Hendrickson & Frank, 1993). Two groups of instructional strategies that incorporate many of these components are student-centered methods (e.g., self-correction, self-questioning; McNeish, Heron, & Okyere, 1992; Wirtz, Gardner, Weber, & Bullara, 1996) and peer-mediated instruction (e.g., tutoring). In earlier research, McNeish, Heron, & Okyere used a 7-step self-questioning strategy to improve the spelling performance of eighth-grade remedial students. Self-correction procedures, according to Wirtz et al., have been identified as effective methods for improving the spelling performance of low-achieving third graders.

A solid research base supports the use of peer-mediated instruction for students with and without various disabilities (e.g., Harper, 1998; Harper, Maheady, & Mallette, 1994; Sideridis et al., 1997; Utley, Mortweet, & Greenwood, 1997). For example, one of the most well-researched peer-mediated approaches 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). classwide peer tutoring was developed to address the lack of class time during which students were actively engaged in activities that facilitated academic achievement (Greenwood, 1991). For example, students with mild mental retardation have been reported to spend less than 50% of their reading period in self-contained settings engaged in behaviors such as reading aloud and writing that facilitated gains in literacy (Utley et al., 1993). classwide peer tutoring has been successfully used to increase academic engagement and achievement in math, reading, and spelling for general education and at-risk students (Greenwood, Delquadri, & Hall, 1984; Kohler & Greenwood, 1990; Maheady & Harper, 1987); to increase spelling achievement for general education elementary students (Delquadri et al., 1983) and for students with mild disabilities in self-contained classrooms (Harper, Mallette, Maheady, Parkes, & Moore, 1993; Harper, Mallette, & Moore, 1991); to increase social studies comprehension for junior high students with mild disabilities in a ,resource room setting (Maheady, Harper, & Sacca, 1988); and to increase reading achievement for high-functioning students with autism and their typical peers in an inclusive, general education classroom (Kamps, Barbetta, Leonard, & Delquadri, 1994).

Despite the movement toward inclusion, classwide peer tutoring research on the academic benefits for students with mild mental retardation in inclusive, general education classrooms is limited (Mortweet, 1995). The majority of classwide peer tutoring studies for students with mild mental retardation has been conducted in self-contained or other special education settings (e.g., Harper et al., 1993; Maheady et al., 1988; Mallette, Harper, Maheady, & Dempsey, 1991). To address this limitation in the classwide peer tutoring research, the purpose of this study was to investigate the academic benefits of classwide peer tutoring for students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers in inclusive classroom settings. In order to assess the academic effects of classwide peer tutoring, data on the curriculum-based spelling tests of students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers were collected and analyzed. Rates of engagement in academic behavior from direct observation during classwide peer tutoring were also collected. These data were used to answer the following research questions: (a) Do students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers receive higher posttest scores on spelling tests during classwide peer tutoring when compared to teacher-led instruction, and (b) do students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers engage in higher rates of academic behavior during classwide peer tutoring when compared to teacher-led instruction?

METHOD

Setting and Participants

This study was conducted in two inclusive, general education elementary classrooms in urban Kansas City, Kansas. Twenty-five students without diagnosed disabilities (typical peers) and two students with (MMR) were enrolled in each classroom. Data were collected on the two students with MMR and two typical peers from each classroom (n = 8). The four students with MMR were included in the general education classrooms for spelling, a social activity period and lunch period in accordance with their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The teacher in Classroom A (second grade) had been instructing for 11 years, and the teacher in Classroom B (third grade) had been instructing for 12 years. The majority of the students in both classrooms qualified on the basis of family income for the Federal government free lunch program and Federal Chapter 1 programs in reading, math, or both.

Selection of Target Students. A description of the eight target students selected for the study is presented in Table 1. The four students with MMR were chosen by the first author and the special education teacher based on IEP goals that specified inclusive setting placement. All students with MMR were diagnosed by the school psychologist independent of this study and met the diagnostic criteria specified by Federal and Kansas regulations (Kansas State Regulations for Special Education, 1991-1993). The Classroom A participants with MMR were Lynn, who was an 8-year-old, African-American female; and Tammy, who was an 8-year-old, Caucasian female. The Classroom B participants with MMR were Rachel, who was a 10-year-old, African-American female; and James, who was a 10-year-old, Caucasian male, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well as MMR. The intelligence quotient (IQ), standardized achievement scores and adaptive behavior scores for the participants with MMR are presented in Table 2.

TABLE 1 Description of Target Students
 Classroom A--Second Grade
Student Age Sex Race

Lynn(a) 8 Female African-American

Tammy(a) 8 Female Caucasian

Bonnie 8 Female African-American

Dee 8 Female African-American

 Classroom B--Third Grade

Rachel(a) 10 Female African-American

james(a) 10 Male Caucasian

Aaron 9 Male Caucasian

Janie 8 Female African-American


(a) Refers to students with mild mental retardation.

TABLE 2 IQ, Achievement, and Adaptive Behavior Scores of Target Students with Mild Mental Retardation
 Woodcock-Johnson
 Letter Word Identification
 WISC-R Subtest Grade Equivalent
Student Full Scale IQ(a) Score(b)

Lynn 52 K.0
Tammy 68 Not Available
Rachel 60 1.5
James 59 1.9

 Vineland Behavior
 Composite Age Equivalent
Student Score(c)

Lynn 4-0 years
Tammy Not Available
Rachel 2-10 years
James 3-2 years


Note: (a) WISC-R refers to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (Wechsler, 1974). (b) Woodcock-Johnson refers to the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery (Woodcock, 1978). (c) Vineland refers to the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 1984).

The four target typical peers were selected by the teachers in response to a request for low and high achievers in spelling based on previous spelling test scores. No recent standardized achievement data were available for the typical peers. The target typical peers in Classroom A were Bonnie and Dee, both 8-year-old, African-American females. The classroom teacher described Bonnie as a high achiever and Dee as a low achiever in spelling. In Classroom B, the target typical peers were Aaron, who was a 9-year-old, Caucasian male; and Janie who was an 8-year-old, African-American female. The classroom teacher described Aaron as a high achiever and Janie as a low achiever in spelling.

Experimental Design and Conditions

A withdrawal treatment design (Tawney & Gast, 1984) was employed to compare the effects of teacher-led instruction (A) with CWPT (B) on spelling test performance. Each target student's rate of academic engagement was probed once during each teacher-led instruction (A) and CWPT (B) condition.

Teacher-Led Instruction (A). Spelling instruction in both classrooms consisted of 20 min of teacher-specified lessons using a grade-level spelling book written by Bohen and Huycke (1990). The teacher in Classroom A typically used small groups of two to three students and individual seat assignments for spelling instruction. Small group activities included spelling word games at the chalkboard such as "hangman." Seat assignments included completing pages in the spelling book, writing words in alphabetical order, and writing sentences containing spelling words.

The teacher in Classroom B mainly used whole class lectures and picture flash cards of the spelling words for her spelling lessons. Each student spent 1 to 2 days of the week cutting, pasting, and writing the spelling words on the flash cards. The flash cards were then used by the teacher to elicit group participation during her lectures. Some individual seat assignments similar to those used by the teacher in Classroom A were also incorporated. Each of the two teacher-led instruction conditions lasted 5 weeks.

Classwide Peer Tutoring (B). The tutoring procedures implemented during spelling period were based on research conducted at Juniper Gardens Children's Project (Delquadri et al., 1983; Greenwood, Delquadri, & Carta, 1988; Greenwood, Delquadri, & Hall, 1989), and by colleagues (e.g., Maheady et al., 1988). Tutoring sessions were conducted four times a week for 20 min per day using teacher-designated spelling lists. All students were randomly paired by the teacher and first author, with occasional modifications made (e.g., assigned to another partner) if two partners were too low achieving or behaviorally disruptive to be able to carry out the tutoring procedures accurately. Each pair of students was then randomly assigned to one of two competing teams. Peer partner and team assignments were changed on a weekly basis.

The desks of each pair were placed together for the week to facilitate transition into and from CWPT. Also, the teacher placed tutoring material packets on each desk (e.g., spelling list, point sheets, practice sheets) before beginning the CWPT session. During the 20 min tutoring session, each student in the pair was a tutor and tutee for 10 min each. The tutor read the spelling word to the tutee and said the letters of the spelling word out loud while writing the word. The tutor then awarded the tutee two points for correct spelling and moved to the next word or told the tutee how to spell the word. The tutee then practiced writing the misspelled word three times while saying the letters out loud. Words that had to be practiced were worth one point, or zero points if the practice words were also spelled incorrectly. After the first 10 min (designated by a timer bell), the tutor and tutee changed roles and continued for 10 more min. The teacher monitored the tutoring sessions by moving around the classroom, answering questions and providing bonus points for correct tutoring procedures and cooperative behavior. One or two investigators were also typically available to assist the teacher with monitoring and providing points. After the 20-min tutoring sessions, students reported the total number of points they earned to the teacher who wrote them on a poster under the appropriate team side. The winning team was then calculated, announced, and reinforced with special privileges such as getting to line up first for recess.

Some modifications to the procedures were made to accommodate the teaching and learning capabilities of the students with MMR and their typical peers. These modifications included shorter lists (10 words) for students who performed below 50% correct on posttests of 15 words, enlarged practice sheets, and allowing tutees to read the word on the list if their tutor did not know it. The two CWPT conditions lasted 11 and 6 weeks, respectively.

CWPT Training and Treatment Fidelity. The teachers were trained in the CWPT procedures and materials during one, 2-hr session before the study began. The fidelity of implementation of CWPT procedures was verified by the investigators using direct observation to complete a CWPT Fidelity Checklist (Greenwood et al., 1988), which lists the procedures necessary to implement CWPT accurately. This checklist was completed approximately one time every 2 weeks during all conditions. During the CWPT conditions, each teacher was given feedback on ways to improve their performance of the procedures on the checklist. The results of the fidelity observations indicated that implementation of the CWPT procedures did not occur in either classroom during teacher-led instruction (A). The mean fidelity of implementation for Classroom A during the CWPT procedures was 88% (range, 84% to 93%), and 70% (range, 54% to 84%) for Classroom B. The provision of feedback during CWPT conditions resulted in increased accuracy of procedures, and consequently improved scores on the fidelity checklist as the study progressed throughout the school year.

Students were trained by the investigator and teachers during two, half-hour spelling periods. The first session was used to describe and practice specific tutoring procedures (e.g., error correction, awarding points), and the second session included information about transitioning to and from CWPT sessions, and continued practice of the tutoring procedures. The investigators and teachers observed and provided feedback to each tutoring pair until they could conduct the tutoring procedures correctly on 90% of the tutee's attempts to spell. One, 15-min training session was also conducted at the beginning of the second CWPT condition to remind the students of the procedures.

Dependent Measures

Weekly Spelling Test Performance. Weekly lists of spelling words were developed by the teacher and pretested each Friday. Posttests of the words studied during the week were also conducted on Fridays. All students in Classroom A were given 20 words per week during the first teacher-led instruction (A) and CWPT (B) conditions, and 15 words during the second teacher-led instruction and CWPT conditions. Students in Classroom B received 20 words for the first teacher-led instruction condition and the first 2 weeks of the initial CWPT condition, and 15 words thereafter. The amount of words were reduced because the majority of the students were not able to practice spelling all of the words on the list more than once by Friday. Data on pretest and posttest accuracy (percentage correct) were collected for each target student in all conditions. The teacher and first author corrected each target student's test independently to determine the percentage correct. Percentage gain scores from pretest to posttest were also calculated for each condition.

Academic Engagement. Using a momentary time-sampling procedure, observations were conducted using the Code for Instructional Structure and Student Academic Response (Mainstream/Special Education Version-NCENT; Carta et al., 1992). The observation system contained codes for observing classroom ecology (e.g., instructional grouping), teacher behaviors (e.g., lecture), and student behaviors (e.g., attending, writing). Academic engagement scores were calculated as a composite of the following individual student behaviors: Writing, Reading Aloud, Reading Silently, Task Participation, and Talk Academic. Each target student was randomly observed once during the entire 20-min spelling period for each condition. Observations were conducted by two observers who were trained to the criterion of 80% or greater agreement for each NCENT category (e.g., student behavior) on three consecutive observations.

Interobserver reliability for the NCENT observations was calculated for 13% of the total observations by dividing the number of agreements by the number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplying by 100. A mean of 97% (range, 86% to 100%) was calculated across all code categories. Reliability for the student response category was 93%.

Social Validity. To address the acceptability of CWPT, consumer satisfaction surveys were administered to the teachers and students. in each classroom at the end of the study. The 23-item teacher survey had teacher's rate CWPT training, support offered from project staff, effectiveness of CWPT procedures, and student performance based on a 5-point Likert scale. The students in each classroom also completed a 10-item survey to assess their responses to the academic and social aspect of CWPT.

RESULTS

Weekly Spelling Test Performance

One research question investigated in this study was how performance on spelling posttests during CWPT compared to performance during teacher-led instruction. Overall, seven of the eight target students spelled with more accuracy during CWPT when compared to teacher-led instruction. The remaining target student, Bonnie from Classroom A, spelled with the same average accuracy (96%) during both CWPT and teacher-led instruction. The average percentage correct on spelling posttests during each teacher-led and CWPT condition for the students with MMR and their typical peers are shown in Figure 1.

[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

During the first teacher-led instruction condition, three of the four typical peers had higher average percentage correct scores than the four students with MMR. One typical peer, Janie, had an average score (35%) similar to that of the lowest performing student with' MMR, Tammy (30%). During the final CWPT condition, all students with MMR received average posttest scores greater than 82%, performing as well as the four typical peers who had posttest averages of approximately 83% or higher.

Pretest-Posttest Gain Scores. The average pretest-posttest gains (i.e., posttest minus pretest scores) during each teacher-led and CWPT condition were also analyzed for the effect of pretest variability on posttest outcomes. All of the target students demonstrated greater average gains during CWPT than during teacher-led instruction, with the students with MMR and one typical peer, Janie, demonstrating the greatest gains. The average gain scores for the students with MMR during teacher-led instruction were 58% for Lynn, 35% for Tammy, 27% for Rachel, and 42% for James. The average gain scores increased during CXVPT to 60%, 52%, 73%, and 72% for Lynn, Tammy, Rachel, and James, respectively. Janie's average gain score during teacher-led instruction was 27% and 69% during CWPT. The three remaining typical peers, Dee, Bonnie, and Aaron averaged only slightly higher gain scores during CWPT when compared to teacher-led instruction. Dee, Bonnie, and Aaron averaged 66%, 48%, and 43% gains during teacher-led instruction, and 68%, 57%, and 48% gains, respectively, during CWPT.

Academic Engagement

Another question regarding academic outcomes was how engagement in academic behavior during CWPT compared to engagement during teacher-led instruction. The data in Figure 2 shows the percentage occurrence of academic engagement for the students with MMR and typical peers during the teacher-led instruction and CWPT conditions. All eight target students were engaged in higher rates of academic responding during CWPT when compared to rates during teacher-led instruction. The students with MMR demonstrated engagement rates of less than 33% (range, 13% to 32%) during teacher-led instruction, similar to the typical peers with rates generally less than 44% (range, 8% to 43%). During CWPT, all target students displayed academic engagement rates greater than 56% (range, 57% to 85%), except for Bonnie who had a rate of 53% during the final CWPT condition.

[Figure 2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The major increases in academic responding from teacher-led instruction to CWPT for Lynn (13% to 64%) and Tammy (18% to 77%) doubled the number of min of active spelling responses each student performed during CWPT (12 to 15 min) when compared to teacher-led instruction (6 min). Similar increases in engagement for Rachel (24% to 79%) and James (16% to 74%) resulted in an average of 5 to 10 min more active spelling practice during CWPT than during teacher-led instruction. Academic engagement increases for the four typical peers resulted in 14 to 18 min of active spelling responding during CWPT compared to 4 to 10 min during teacher-led instruction.

Social Validity

Both classroom teachers generally reported on the consumer satisfaction questionnaires that the CWPT program had academic benefits for their students with MMR and typical peers. They "strongly agreed" that the CWPT procedures were helpful for students of all ability levels, and that they plan to use CWPT next year. The teacher from Classroom A also reported an increase in the students' willingness to tutor with the students with MMR, and more cooperation and confidence for the students with MMR when tutoring their typical peers. Classroom B teacher reported an overall increase in cooperation and acceptance of the students with MMR as a result of the CWPT program. She reported difficulty working CWPT into her general schedule and did not notice a lower rate of inappropriate behaviors during CWPT. Thus, despite the observational data collected that indicated an increase in academic engagement, resulting in less opportunity for inappropriate behavior, the decrease was not satisfactory for the expectations of the teacher in Classroom B.

Students in both classrooms also reported positive academic responses to the CWPT program. The majority of students in both classrooms (84%, 95%) liked CWPT "a lot" and reported that CWPT helped them spell better (95%, 86%). Most of the students (58%, 81%) also reported that the students with MMR were smarter than they expected. Anecdotal comments made by typical peers about having the students with MMR in their class for CWPT included: "They are smart kids who can learn if you teach them," and "They should be in our class so they can learn more, learn how to be responsible and how to share."

DISCUSSION

The results of the present study indicated that classwide peer tutoring is an effective instructional strategy for improving academic outcomes for students with mild mental retardation in inclusive classroom settings. Specifically, classwide peer tutoring improved academic achievement by increasing the average percentage correct scores on spelling tests, as well as average percentage gain scores from pretest to posttest, during classwide peer tutoring when compared to teacher-led instruction. In practical terms, the majority of the students with mild mental retardation improved their letter grade in spelling from Ds and Fs during teacher-led instruction to As and Bs during classwide peer tutoring. The less socially significant change in Tammy's grades (F to a D) may have been a result of her frequent, often weekly, absences during all conditions. The majority of the typical peers also improved or maintained their already adequate letter-grade performance of Bs and As during classwide peer tutoring procedures. Similar to the students with mild mental retardation, Janie improved her letter-grade average from an F during teacher-led instruction conditions to a C during classwide peer tutoring.

Another academic benefit of classwide peer tutoring demonstrated in this study was the high level of academic engagement for all target students during classwide peer tutoring procedures, replicating prior research. When compared to levels during teacher-led instruction, the high academic responding during classwide peer tutoring resulted in the addition of approximately 5 to 10 min of active involvement in academic material. Over the course of a school year, these additional minutes per class period would translate to several hours of increased student engagement in academic behaviors that are known to improve academic achievement (Greenwood, 1991).

Overall, the positive academic outcomes reported in this study supported previous research demonstrating the effectiveness of classwide peer tutoring as an instructional strategy for students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers (e.g., Harper et al., 1991; Sideridis, 1995; Utley et al., 1993). The positive statements from the general education teachers regarding the academic and social benefits of classwide peer tutoring for their students adds social validity to the study outcomes that were investigated. The extension of these findings to the inclusive classroom provided specific support for the usefulness of classwide peer tutoring as an intervention in inclusive settings. Thus, this study provided evidence that classwide peer tutoring is both effective for improving academic achievement, particularly for students with mild mental retardation, as well as feasible for use by general educators in inclusive classrooms.

Despite the contributions of this study, there are some limitations and indications for future research that should be addressed. For example, changes in the instructional task (number of tested spelling words) made by the teacher in Classroom A after the first two conditions may have confounded the results obtained on spelling test performance. Although each student in the classroom received higher average scores during classwide peer tutoring when compared to teacher-led instruction, the differences may have been more conclusive if the reduction of tested words did not coincide with a change in experimental condition. Evidence of the effectiveness of classwide peer tutoring on academic performance is more apparent in Classroom B where such changes did not occur. Thus, further demonstrations of the academic benefits of classwide peer tutoring for students with mild mental retardation in inclusive settings are needed to establish the effectiveness and efficacy of this instructional strategy for general education teachers. These academic benefits should move beyond the findings reported in this study to include measures such as long-term retention and generalization to writing assignments (e.g., Harper, 1998). More extensive academic data was not investigated in this study due to the emphasis on social outcomes, including generalization of social interactions to other settings. Future research on modifications of classwide peer tutoring procedures (e.g., shorter word lists, number of days tutored) may result in strategies that can readily meet the practical constraints, as well as diverse learning needs present in inclusive classrooms.

Although this study demonstrated the effectiveness of classwide peer tutoring as an academic intervention for students served in an inclusive classroom, future research investigating the social effects of classwide peer tutoring may provide important information to educators about its usefulness as a social intervention as well. The lack of appropriate social behavior and peer relationships is particularly salient for students with mild mental retardation who are, by definition, limited in adaptive social behaviors as well as cognitive skills (American Association on Mental Retardation, 1992). General education, inclusive classrooms often represent the same learning environment in which many students with mild disabilities initially failed, both academically and socially, because schools have not provided teachers with effective academic and social interventions to ensure their success in these settings. Although preliminary research on the social outcomes of classwide peer tutoring suggest some benefits for students with and without disabilities (e.g. Kamps et al., 1994; Kohler & Greenwood, 1990; Kohler, Richardson, Mina, Dinwiddie, & Greenwood, 1985; Sideridis et al., 1997), the need exists for further demonstrations of these positive social effects for students in inclusive settings.

Finally, a limitation to interpreting the feasibility of using classwide peer tutoring in the general classroom is that unlike most classrooms, the teachers in this study typically had one or two adults assisting them with the classwide peer tutoring procedures. Although some existing classroom structures such as those using collaborative teaching or the use of a paraprofessional may have a similar arrangement as the one used in this study, it is difficult to determine how successful an individual teacher might be without such resources. It is unclear from the descriptions of other classwide peer tutoring programs conducted in the general education classroom setting as to whether or not significant assistance from investigators was provided in those classrooms as well. Future research on classwide peer tutoring should assess the effectiveness of the program without assistance from investigators, as well as clarify their methodology if such assistance was provided.

In summary, the present study described a classwide peer tutoring program that improved the spelling test performance and academic engagement of elementary students with mild mental retardation and their typical peers in inclusive classrooms. The limitations of this study may be typical of many research projects attempted in the natural school environment and provide direction for future studies. Overall, however, the results of this study suggest that classwide peer tutoring may be an effective and feasible instructional strategy available for general educators who need alternative teaching methods to meet the increasingly diverse needs of students in general education, inclusive classrooms.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE

The findings of this study suggest that CWPT has some promising implications for general education teachers charged with providing effective instruction in a classroom that includes students with and without MMR. First of all, the use of CWPT allows teachers to capitalize on instructional components that are known to be effective such as allowing all students to experience high rates of academic engagement. High engagement rates imply that students are using instructional time effectively, as demonstrated by the positive academic outcomes that generally accompany such engagement levels. Thus, teachers can make the most out of the sometime limited amount of time they have to instruct their students.

Second, CWPT also provides teachers with a peer-mediated instructional strategy to supplement their use of teacher-led instruction. In general, peer-mediated instruction has support as an effective and feasible instructional option in most classrooms. Although the feasibility of CWPT, as demonstrated in this study, may be difficult to generalize to classrooms with more limited adult assistance, the potential effectiveness of CWPT may make it a teaching strategy worth investigating for classroom teachers.

Finally, the potential for academic success that students with MMR can demonstrate using CWPT may help to have a positive influence on teachers' perceptions of the learning abilities for this population. Such a positive attitude toward students with MMR may help to decrease the anxiety many general educators have about including such students in their classroom. Positive reactions by teachers may, in turn, influence more positive reactions in peers who are in classrooms with students with MMR. Thus, in addition to positive academic outcomes, the social benefits of CWPT, although not directly reported in this study, may be one of the most important implications for practice that CWPT has to often

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This work was supported by grant No. H023C20145 from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, which was awarded to the second author. This study was used by the first author for partial fulfillment of a doctoral requirement in the Department of Human Development and Family Life at the University of Kansas. This work reflects the opinions of the authors and not those of the funding agency.

The authors express their appreciation to the staff of Juniper Gardens and students of the Kansas City, Kansas, Unified School District #500.

This work is dedicated to the late Velma Bowman, Special Education Teacher at M.E. Pearson Elementary School, Kansas City, Kansas.

Correspondence should be directed to Cheryl A. Utley, Juniper Gardens Childrens Project, 650 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, KS 66101.

Manuscript received February 1998; revision accepted March 1999.

(*) To order books referenced in this journal, please call 24 hrs/365 days: (800) BOOKSNOW (266-5766) or (801) 261-1187, or visit them on the Web at http://www.Books Now. com/Exceptional Children.htm. Use Visa, M/C, or AMEX or send check or money order + $4.95 S&H ($2.50 each add l item) to: Books Now, Inc., 348 E. 6400 South, Suite 220, Salt Lake City, UT 84107.

SUSAN L. MORTWEET, Licensed Staff Psychologist Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri. CHERYL A. UTLEY (CEC #436), Associate Research Professor; DALE WALKER (CEC #436), Assistant Research Professor; HARRIETT L. DAWSON, Research and Training Coordinator; JOSEPH C.

DELQUADRI, Research Director; SHALINI S. REDDY, Graduate Research Assistant; and CHARLES R. GREENWOOD (CEC #436), Senior Scientist and Director, Juniper Gardens Children s Project, Kansas City, Kansas. SANDY HAMILTON, General Education Teacher; and DEBORAH LEDFORD, General Education Teacher, M. E. Pearson Elementary School, Kansas City, Kansas.3
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Author:MORTWEET, SUSAN L.; UTLEY, CHERYL A.; WALKER, DALE; DAWSON, HARRIETT L.; DELQUADRI, JOSEPH C.; REDDY
Publication:Exceptional Children
Date:Jun 22, 1999
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