Skip Navigation

What Works Clearinghouse


Overview1

Program Description2

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies is a peer-tutoring program for use in elementary school classrooms to improve student proficiency in reading. Its purpose is to supplement students’ existing reading curriculum. Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies was developed for use with students with diverse academic needs and has been used with English language learners.

The program uses peer-mediated instruction, a process whereby students work in pairs or small groups to provide tutoring in three reading strategies: retelling (i.e., sequencing information), paragraph shrinking (i.e., generating main idea statements), and prediction relay (i.e., generating and evaluating predictions). In addition to being trained in each of the reading strategies, students are taught to correct their partner’s reading errors, award points for correct responses, and provide consistent encouragement and feedback. Developers recommend that tutoring sessions last approximately 35 minutes and be conducted three to four times a week.

Research3

One study of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies that falls within the scope of the English Language Learners review protocol meets What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards, and no studies meet WWC evidence standards with reservations. The study that meets evidence standards includes 99 English language learners from 3rd to 6th grade in Texas.4 Of the full sample, 49 English language learners were in classrooms that used Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies for reading instruction, and 50 were in classrooms that used “business-as-usual” reading instruction. Of the 49 Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies English language learners, 15 were in the low-achieving subgroup, 17 in the average-achieving subgroup, and 17 in the high-achieving subgroup. Of the 50 business-as-usual English language learners, 18 were in the low-achieving subgroup, 18 in the average-achieving subgroup, and 14 in the high-achieving subgroup.

Based on this study, the WWC considers the extent of evidence for Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies on English language learners to be small for reading achievement. The one study that meets WWC evidence standards did not examine the effectiveness of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies in the mathematics achievement or English language development domains for English language learners.

Effectiveness

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies was found to have potentially positive effects on reading achievement for English language learners.

  Reading achievement Mathematics achievement English language development
Rating of effectiveness Potentially positive effects na na
Improvement index5 Average: +12 percentile points

Range: +5 to +25 percentile points
na


na
na


na
na = not applicable

1 This report has been updated to include reviews of three studies that have been released since 2007. Of these additional studies, one is not within the scope of the English Language Learners review protocol (Calhoon, Al Otaiba, Greenberg, King, & Avalos, 2006) and two are within the scope of the protocol but do not meet evidence standards (Calhoon, Al Otaiba, Greenberg, King, & Avalos, 2007; McMaster, Kung, Han, & Cao, 2008). One study that meets evidence standards in the earlier review (Saenz, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2005) was rereviewed and still meets evidence standards. However, this report now excludes the group of students with learning disabilities, since those results will be reported in another WWC topic area. A complete list and disposition of all studies reviewed are provided in the references.
2 The descriptive information for this program was published as part of the previous report of the effects of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies on English language learners, released May 2007. The WWC requests developers to review the program description sections for accuracy from their perspective. Further verification of the accuracy of the descriptive information for this program is beyond the scope of this review. The literature search reflects documents publicly available by February 2009.
3 The studies in this report were reviewed using WWC Evidence Standards, Version 2.0 (see the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Chapter III), as described in protocol version 2.0.
4 The evidence presented in this report is based on available research. Findings and conclusions may change as new research becomes available.
5 These numbers show the average and range of student-level improvement indices for all findings in the study.