Reciprocal peer tutoring for children with severe emotional, behavioral and learning problems

Judith Alperin King, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this project was to assess the impact of a modified Reciprocal Peer Tutoring (RPT) intervention on the arithmetic achievement and social collaboration of latency-age boys with severe emotional, behavioral and learning problems. The RPT intervention, originally developed by John Fantuzzo, was adapted to the ecology of an SED classroom and the special needs of these students. The sample was taken from a group of 53 latency-age boys attending a residential and day treatment program. An entire classroom participated in the intervention with six children serving as participants in the study. In the study the children took part in two RPT applications, an arithmetic reward contingency application and a social collaboration reward contingency application. Children participated in the intervention during their regularly scheduled arithmetic class. An alternating treatment design was used to track three dyads. The children participated in approximately 30 sessions. Changes in accurate arithmetic computations were assessed using daily math tests. The impact on collaboration was evaluated using an observational coding system based on Fuch's system (1994). The following research questions were explored: (1) Can a Reciprocal Peer Tutoring intervention be implemented, with fidelity to the stated tenets of the program, for a group of children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders? (2) What is the impact of each RPT application on the children's arithmetic computation and collaborative interaction? (3) Does either application yield superior results with this group of children? All of the participants successfully used the Reciprocal Peer Tutoring intervention methods for both arithmetic and social collaboration reward contingencies. All students showed improvement in their arithmetic computation, percentage of time collaborating and percentage of time disrupting the collaboration. The Arithmetic Application yielded higher rates of change than Collaboration Application in one of the three dyads. Both applications were found to be comparably effective in the remaining two dyads. Satisfaction data indicated that 4 out of 6 children gave the program the highest rating indicating that they liked the program "a lot." The remaining 2 gave it a favorable rating ("liked" the program). The teachers rated the program very positive. Implications of future applications using this intervention with this population are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

King, Judith Alperin, "Reciprocal peer tutoring for children with severe emotional, behavioral and learning problems" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3225483.