WWC review of this study

Acquisition and transfer effects of classwide peer-assisted learning strategies in mathematics for students with varying learning histories.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Phillips, N. B., Hamlett, C. L., & Karns, K. (1995). School Psychology Review, 24(4), 604-620. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ589164

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: January 2013

Does not meet WWC standards

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Urban

Reviewed: June 2012

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Tennessee Math Operations Test

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual


Grades 2-4;
40 students




More Outcomes

Tennessee Math Concepts and Applications Test

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual


Grades 2-4;
40 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 57% Free or reduced price lunch
  • Race

  • Urban
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The study was conducted in nine elementary schools in an urban school district in Tennessee.

Study sample

The sample for this study included a total of 120 students in the second, third, and fourth grades: 40 low-performing students with learning disabilities, 40 low-performing students without learning disabilities, and 40 average-performing students. This report reviews findings for only the 40 students with learning disabilities. The study design was a randomized controlled trial conducted in nine elementary schools. Teachers who had one or more students with learning disabilities in their math class were recruited to participate in the study. The recruitment efforts resulted in a sample of 40 teachers who were randomly assigned to either PALS or comparison conditions (20 teachers per group). Each of the 40 teachers was asked to identify three students to participate in the study: one low-performing student with a learning disability (identified in accordance with state regulations), one low-performing student who did not have a learning disability, and one average-performing student. Teachers were not informed of their treatment assignment until after they had selected students to participate in the study. There was no attrition of schools, teachers, or students.

Intervention Group

PALS was conducted twice weekly in math classes for 25- to 30-minute sessions for 23 weeks. Students were trained to be PALS tutors and tutees in five 30-minute sessions during the week prior to the start of the intervention. Pairs changed every two weeks. Any student who had not been a tutor for the past four weeks was assigned a tutoring role so that within every six-week interval, each student served as a tutor for at least two weeks.

Comparison Group

Comparison teachers conducted math classes using their normal approach (business-as-usual).

Outcome descriptions

The mathematics domain was assessed with two mathematics achievement measures at pretest and posttest. The Tennessee Mathematics Operations Test–Revised samples problems across the first through sixth grades from the Operations portion of the Tennessee state curriculum, whereas the Tennessee Mathematics Concepts and Applications Test samples problems from the Concepts/Applications portions of the curriculum. 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 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.


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