The study took place at two elementary schools in the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area.
The study included 46 English language learners in fourth grade who were randomly assigned to teachers and sections. Each teacher taught two sections, one randomly
assigned to the peer-response intervention group and one to the comparison group. The intervention group included 27 students, of whom 25 were Hispanic, two were Asian-
American, 16 were female, and 11 were male. The comparison group included 19 students, of whom 18 were Hispanic, one was Asian-American, 10 were female, and nine
were male. Students ranged in age from 9 to 11 years old. All students had received English as a Second Language (ESL) or bilingual education services but were currently
participating in general education fourth-grade classrooms. All students were considered by their teachers to have limited English proficiency that might put them at risk with
respect to academic achievement.
Students participated in a four-week intervention that used small, mixed-ability peer response groups to provide feedback on group members’ writing compositions. The
27 participating ELL students were randomly assigned to peer response groups consisting of four or five students. Peer response groups included both the ELL students
participating in the study and students from the regular classroom. Generally, one or two ELL students were in each small group. During the first week, the teacher modeled
how groups would work and demonstrated how students would respond to the writing of their peers. In the groups, the student author would read his or her composition, the
group members would say what they liked about it, the student author would ask for help on a particular aspect, and the group members would suggest which parts of the
composition to improve. During weeks two through four, students produced one composition a week. They met to select a topic, shared their first drafts, rewrote compositions
based on group feedback, brought compositions to the group for final editing, incorporated changes, and wrote a final copy. For many of the peer group meetings, students
assumed specific roles, with one student looking for errors in spelling, another for incomplete sentences, and another for capitalization and punctuation errors.
Students in the comparison condition did individual composition writing (prewriting, drafting, revision, and editing) while students in the treatment condition participated in their
peer response groups.
The primary outcome domain was written expression, which was assessed with a quality of composition score (holistic rubric score), total words written, total number of sentences written, and total number of idea units (single clauses) written.
Support for implementation
Information on teacher training was not provided.