Posts Tagged ‘peer tutoring’

Teacher and SudentsHere at Applied Behavioral Strategies, the mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. Today’s research review continues the discussion this week on using principles of ABA to address ADHD. See Monday’s post and Tuesday’s post for additional information.

Researchers from a variety of institutions collaborated to author “Peer Tutoring for Children with ADHD: Effects on Classroom Behavior and Academic Performance“. Authors included: George DuPaul, Ruth Ervin, Christine Hook, and Kara McGoey. The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) published the study. Readers may download the entire article here.


Children with ADHD need two types of intervention. First, teachers and parents must provide reinforcement for appropriate behaviors and research has shown this to be effective. However, reinforcement alone is not enough. Teachers and parents must also concurrently address academic behaviors. One method for addressing academic behaviors is peer tutoring. Peer tutoring consists of two or more students working together on an activity with one student providing assistance, instruction, and feedback to the other. Various models of peer tutoring have been studied by great educational researchers such as Charlie Greenwood and Doug and Lynn Fuchs.

ClassWide Peer Tutoring

One model of peer tutoring is Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT). Classwide Peer Tutoring is an evidence based instructional practice based on principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (e.g., prompting, reinforcement, modeling). In CWPT, students work together in pairs taking turns tutoring each other. Students address skills that have been previously taught by their teacher. The teacher also develops appropriate teaching materials for the students to use. This approach provides students with more opportunities for asking questions and getting answers.

Study Purpose

The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of CWPT onĀ  the task engagement, activity level, and academic performance of children with ADHD and children without ADHD.

Study Methodology

Participants. Eighteen students with ADHD who were not taking medication participated in the study. Children ranged between 6 and 10 years of age. Additionally, 10 comparison children participated in the study. These children were matched to the other children on age, gender, and class (i.e., in the same class as one of the targeted students).

Measures. Researchers measured classroom behavior (on task, off task, and fidgety) using a 15-second partial interval recording. Researchers also measured academic performance using teacher-developed pre- and post-tests each week. Finally, researchers also measured social validity by asking teachers and students to rate the intervention at the end of the study.

Design. Researchers used an ABAB (or reversal) design to determine intervention effectiveness. In this design, researchers measure behaviors with no intervention. Then they measure behaviors during intervention. Then the intervention is terminated while researchers continue to measure behaviors. And finally, the intervention is reinstated while behaviors continue to be measured.

Study Validity. The researchers took two additional steps to measure the validity of the study. First, they monitored accuracy of implementation using fidelity checks. Second, the researchers measured inter-observer agreement to ensure that data collection was consistent and accurate.


During baseline, students with ADHD were on-task about 29% of the intervals. This increased to 80% of intervals during intervention. When the intervention stopped, this behavior decreased down to an average of 21% of intervals but when the intervention was reinstated, it increased again to 83%. Changes in fidgety behavior were observed in some but not all students. It is important to note that even without intervention, the occurrence of fidgety behaviors was low (i.e. 6% of intervals). Pre-and Post-test scores improved with intervention for almost half of the students with ADHD. Finally, the intervention received high marks of satisfaction across both teachers and students.


In the discussion section of the paper, the authors note how the results of their study compared to the results of studies on stimulant medication. Essentially, effective instructional practices work just as well as medication without all the side effects. The authors also noted that anecdotal data suggested that student engagement increased as well. Use of stimulant medication does not necessarily result in increased engagement. Interestingly, the comparison peers also showed improvements in on-task behaviors and academic performance.

Readers, do any of your children engage in CWPT? Behavior analysts, is this an intervention that you teach others to use in classrooms? Teachers, how difficult is it to implement CWPT in your class?


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We recently received a request to discuss how to teach academic skills. Thanks Ann! It was a great idea! Yesterday, we described one child’s progress toward academic goals. So today, we thought we would review a peer-reviewed research study on teaching academics.

Kristen Mayfield and Timothy Vollmer authored the article titled, “Teaching Math Skills to At-Risk Students Using Home-Based Peer Tutoring”. The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis published the study and you may find a copy of the article here. The Journal published several studies on academics in that same issue so if you like this article, you may also enjoy the others.

The authors stated two purposes for their study. The first purpose was “to evaluate whether academic gains could result from a peer-tutoring intervention that did not include many of the common structured components of effective classroom-based peer tutoring.” The second purpose was to “implement peer tutoring with previously maltreated children.”

Four children participated in the study. Two of the children lived with relatives while two other children lived in group homes for children placed out of home. The children ranged in age from 9 years to 16 years. The children were enrolled in general education, special education, and special/alternative schools. An interesting twist in this study is that the children served as tutors to each other.

Throughout the study, the children received a penny for each correct answer on a worksheet. Towards the end of the study, one of the children needed more reinforcement and she received $1.00 per worksheet with 100% correct responding. The children used their money to buy preferred items from the experimenter.

In baseline, the experimenter asked the children to complete worksheets. The children received no formal instruction but they did receive pennies for correct responding. During intervention, called tutoring by the authors, the experimenter tutored a child on a skill using prompting and reinforcement. When the tutoring session ended, the child completed the worksheet. When the child completed the worksheet with 100% accuracy, the child then became a peer tutor and taught another child in the same way.

The authors used an experimental design called multiple baseline. This design proves that the child responds to the intervention but it also proves that no other intervention is responsible for the change.

All 4 children showed an increase in skills as a result of intervention. Additionally, the children maintained their math skills even after intervention stopped.

Techniques in Applied Behavior Analysis are effective for teaching a variety of skills and they are effective with everyone, regardless of age or ability.

Please share, do any of your children receive tutoring using ABA techniques? Are any of your children working on academic skills as part of their ABA program?

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