WWC review of this study

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies for English language learners with learning disabilities.

Sáenz, L. M., Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (2005). Exceptional Children, 71(3), 231–247. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ696976

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    99
     Students
    , grades
    3-6
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: June 2012

Comprehension outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Questions Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
20 students

2.95

1.65

No

 
 
32
Reading fluency outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Maze Choices Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
20 students

7.8

6.3

No

 
 
18
More Outcomes

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Words Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
20 students

221.2

188.2

No

 
 
14

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 100% English language learners

  • Female: 30%
    Male: 70%
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    Texas

Setting

This study took place in English-language-learner (ELL) classrooms in one school district in Texas.

Study sample

The sample for this study included 132 native Spanish-speaking students from 12 third- through sixth-grade classrooms in one school district in south Texas. This report reviews findings only for the subset of 20 students with learning disabilities. To be eligible to participate, each of the 12 classrooms had to have an all-ELL student population with at least two students identified as having a learning disability as determined by state and federal criteria. The study design was a randomized controlled trial in which 12 classrooms were stratified on grade level (grades 3–6) and school (the number of schools was not reported). Each of the 12 teachers was asked to identify 11 students to participate in the study: two low-achieving students with a learning disability (identified in accordance with state regulations), three lowachieving students who did not have a learning disability, three average-achieving students, and three high-achieving students. After students were identified, the classrooms were randomly assigned to either PALS or comparison conditions (six per group). Out of the 12 students with learning disabilities assigned to each condition (24 students total), two students were lost from each condition due to relocation, leaving an analysis sample of 10 PALS students and 10 comparison students.

Intervention Group

PALS was used during regularly scheduled reading instruction for 35 minutes three times a week for 15 weeks. Students were trained to be PALS tutors and tutees in five 45-minute sessions during the week prior to the start of the intervention. Teachers created pairs of students (one stronger reader and one weaker reader in each pair), and students alternated their roles as tutor and tutee during each lesson. There were three activities in each lesson, and the reading selection was chosen based on the weaker student’s reading level. In the Partner Reading/ Retelling activity, the stronger reader read aloud for five minutes, then the weaker reader read the same passage. For each reading, the listener acted as the tutor, correcting errors as they read. In the Paragraph Shrinking activity, the stronger reader read aloud for five minutes, stopping to summarize after every paragraph. The weaker reader then performed the same activity using a new passage. In the Prediction Relay activity, the stronger student read the first half of a passage and then predicted what would happen in the second half. The weaker student then made predictions based on a new passage. Student dyads earned points for their performance.

Comparison Group

Comparison teachers conducted reading lessons using their normal approach (business-asusual).

Outcome descriptions

The study authors assessed students with the Comprehensive Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB) at the pretest and posttest time points. The reading fluency domain was measured by the Words Correct (number of words read correctly in three minutes across two passages) and the Maze Choices (number of correct maze replacements in two minutes) subscales of the CRAB. The reading comprehension domain was measured by the Questions Correct subscale of the CRAB (average number of questions answered correctly across two 10-question samples). For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

PALS teachers were trained at a full-day workshop at which they learned both about PALS procedures and about how to train their students on PALS. At the end of the workshop, teachers were given a PALS manual that included scripted lessons to be used when conducting student training.

Reviewed: May 2012

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Reviewed: January 2012

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: September 2010

Reading achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Comprehension subscale

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
99 students

5.09

3.71

Yes

 
 
25
More Outcomes

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Words Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
99 students

341.08

329.41

No

--

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Maze Choices Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. Business as usual

Posttest

Grades 3-6;
99 students

11.23

10.74

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 100% English language learners

  • Female: 79%
    Male: 21%
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
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    • f
    • c
    • g
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    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
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    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Texas

Setting

The study was conducted in one school district in Texas. All students were enrolled in bilingual education classrooms in grades 3–6.

Study sample

Twelve classrooms from grades 3–6 in one Texas school district were stratified based on grade level and school. Classrooms were then randomly assigned to either the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies condition or the comparison condition. For a classroom to be eligible for the study, all students had to be English language learners, and at least two students had to have a learning disability (LD). Outcome data were collected on 11 students in each class: two students with LD, three low-achieving (LA) students, three average-achieving (AA) students, and three high-achieving (HA) students. The learning disability group is not included in this review since another WWC topic area will review those results. The students were categorized into LA, AA, and HA based on teachers’ ranking according to classroom observations, previous scores on minimum state standards competency exams, and district-required informal reading inventories. LA students were in the lowest quartile of the class rank, AA in the middle half, and HA in the top quartile. The baseline sample included in this review consisted of 12 classrooms (six Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and six comparison) and a total of 108 native Spanish-speaking students (54 Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and 54 comparison) in grades 3–6. Of the 54 students in each condition, 18 were low achievers, 18 were average achievers, and 18 were high achievers. The analysis sample included in this review consisted of 12 classrooms (six Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and six comparison) and 99 students (49 Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and 50 comparison). Of the 49 Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies students in the analysis sample, 15 were low achievers, 17 were average achievers, and 18 were high achievers. Of the 50 comparison students in the analysis sample, 18 were low achievers, 18 were average achievers, and 14 were high achievers.

Intervention Group

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies sessions were conducted three times a week for 15 weeks. Each Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies session lasted for 25–35 minutes and occurred during regular reading instruction periods. Teachers ranked students by their reading achievement (high versus low) and paired a higher-achieving student with a lower-achieving student. Students were assigned a new partner about once a month. During Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies, pairs of students engaged in three reading activities: partner reading and retelling, paragraph shrinking, and prediction relay. In all three activities, students took 5-minute turns of being tutor and tutee. During partner reading and retelling, the better reader read aloud for five minutes while the weaker reader served as the tutor, who identified errors and corrected them. The weaker reader reread the same material for the next five minutes and retold what was read. During paragraph shrinking, each student read aloud for five minutes, stopping after each paragraph to summarize what was read. During prediction relay, the reader made a prediction before reading, read half a page, checked the prediction, and summarized using paragraph shrinking. Pairs earned points for correct or accurate responses during activities.

Comparison Group

Teachers in the comparison group provided the district’s regular curriculum for reading instruction. Lesson plans for both the intervention and comparison classrooms were reviewed twice during the study to assess the type of instruction provided. The study found that Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies teachers were more likely than comparison teachers to use one-on-one instruction, and no statistical differences were found in small-group instruction, whole-class instruction, and independent seatwork. The study found that Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies teachers were more likely than comparison teachers to use peer-mediated instruction and less likely to use teacher-led instruction.

Outcome descriptions

The study measures in the reading achievement domain were three subtests of the Comprehensive Reading Assessment Battery. The subscales used were Word Correct, Maze Choices Correct, and Comprehension Questions Correct. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix A2.

Support for implementation

Teachers assigned to the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies condition were trained by research assistants during a full-day workshop. Teachers were given an overview of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies as well as opportunities to practice Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies procedures. Training emphasized how teachers could train their students to implement Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies. Upon conclusion of the workshop, teachers received a comprehensive Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies manual. The manual included scripted lessons that could be used when training students on Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies procedures. As part of this study, research assistants provided daily technical assistance to Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies teachers during the five weeks during which teachers trained students on Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies procedures. At the completion of student training, research assistants provided weekly technical assistance for the duration of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies implementation.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Saenz, L. M. (2002). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies for limited English proficient students with learning disabilities. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63(07A), 163-2505.

 

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