WWC review of this study

Peer-assisted learning strategies: Making classrooms more responsive to diversity.

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., Mathes, P. G., & Simmons, D. C. (1997). American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 174-206. doi:10.3102/00028312034001174 Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED393269

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    40
     Students
    , grades
    2-6
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with 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 2-6;
40 students

5.63

4.15

No

 
 
23
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 2-6;
40 students

11

8.6

No

 
 
16
More Outcomes

Comprehension Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB): Words Correct

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grades 2-6;
40 students

253.28

230.88

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 37%
    Male: 63%
  • Race
    White
    78%
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    South

Setting

The study was conducted in 12 elementary schools from three school districts in a southern state in the United States.

Study sample

The sample for this study included a total of 120 students—40 low-performing students with learning disabilities, 40 low-performing students without learning disabilities, and 40 averageperforming students. The students were in grades 2–6, and the average age was 10. This report reviews findings for only the 40 students with learning disabilities. The study design was a randomized controlled trial in which 22 schools in a southern state in the United States were categorized as high, middle, or low based on mean reading scores and the percentage of students who qualified for free or reduced-price meals. Within each of these three groups, schools were randomly assigned to either PALS or comparison conditions. After randomization of schools, teachers who had one or more students with learning disabilities in their reading class were recruited to participate in the study. The recruitment efforts resulted in a sample of 40 teachers (20 PALS and 20 comparison) from 12 of the 22 schools. Each of the 40 teachers was then 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 lowperforming student who did not have a learning disability, and one average-performing student.While schools were randomly assigned to groups, this study was reviewed as a quasi-experimental design because teachers knew their treatment condition when they selected student participants. In addition, teachers were only recruited after random assignment (although teachers were not told their condition during recruitment), and 10 of the schools that were randomized had no eligible teachers. The remaining 12 schools participated throughout the study and included 40 teachers and 40 students with learning disabilities. The PALS and comparison schools in the analysis differed on some measures (such as the percentage of rural schools); however, the principal investigator concluded that the environments were similar based on important measures such as poverty and achievement.

Intervention Group

PALS was conducted during regularly scheduled reading instruction, 35 minutes per day, three times per 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.

Comparison Group

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

Outcome descriptions

The study authors assessed students with the Comprehensive Reading Assessment Battery (CRAB) at the pretest and posttest time points. Reading fluency was measured by the Words Correct (number of words read correctly in three minutes across two passages) and Maze Choices (number of correct maze replacements in two minutes) subscales of the CRAB. Reading comprehension 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 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.
 

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