WWC review of this study

Enhancing first-grade children's mathematical development with peer-assisted learning strategies.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Yazdian, L., & Powell, S. R. (2002). School Psychology Review, 31(4), 569-583. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ667628

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: January 2013

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

SAT: Aligned Items

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. Business as Usual


grade 1;
328 students




More Outcomes

SAT: Unaligned Items

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. Business as Usual


Grade 1;
328 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 30% English language learners

  • 61% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 45%
    Male: 55%
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic

  • Urban
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The study took place in five elementary schools in a metropolitan public school system in the southeastern United States.

Study sample

The study authors randomly assigned 20 female first-grade teachers to use either Peer- Assisted Learning Strategies or the standard math curriculum. Within each school, equal numbers of teachers were randomly assigned to each of the research conditions. The total sample included 10 teachers in each condition. The analysis sample size was 162 students in the intervention condition and 166 students in the comparison condition.

Intervention Group

In this study, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies supplemented the district’s core curriculum, Math Advantage. The study authors wanted to ensure that students in the intervention and comparison groups received the same amount of mathematics instruction during the 16 weeks when Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies was used with the intervention group. Therefore, the study’s implementation of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies replaced some mathematics instruction activities that intervention teachers would otherwise have used. Specifically, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies was implemented in intervention classrooms for 30-minute sessions, three times a week, for 16 weeks. The study authors asked teachers to classify their students’ mathematics achievement at the beginning of the study. These classifications were used to pair low achieving students with high achieving students for the tutoring sessions. During the first part of each session, the stronger performing student was the coach (tutor); midway through each session, the stronger performing student switched to the tutee role. Every three weeks, teachers reassigned student pairs to increase exposure to different students and, after every third three-week cycle, teachers paired high achievers together.

Comparison Group

Teachers assigned to the comparison condition used only Math Advantage Grade 1 in their classrooms. The curriculum includes teacher-directed lessons, student work with manipulatives, and worksheets. According to the study authors, teachers in the comparison classrooms used the Math Advantage program for at least 90% of their mathematics instruction. Peertutoring activities (like those that are a central component of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies) were rarely used in the comparison classrooms.

Outcome descriptions

Student mathematics achievement was assessed using the Primary 1 and 2 levels of the SAT. The test administered included 94 of the test’s 106 total items. These 94 items were selected to reflect the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies curriculum and the district’s larger core curriculum. The study authors divided the items into those aligned with the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies curriculum (72 items) and those unaligned with the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies curriculum (22 items). Results were presented separately for the aligned and unaligned portions of the test. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Teachers attended a two-hour after-school workshop where they learned about Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies and practiced implementing the program. Teachers used Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies in their classrooms within one week after the workshop. Research assistants observed all intervention sessions and delivered Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies program materials for the upcoming weeks.


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