The use of storytelling in cross-age peer tutoring of reading with regular and educable mentally retarded tutees

Michael Edward Maes, University of Pennsylvania


This year-long study investigated implementing a cross-age peer tutoring program in two inner-city elementary schools in Philadelphia. One school had a 99% black student population and the other had a mix of 27% black students with 73% white students. The study compared two main methods of tutoring: using the storytelling of the tutees as compared to using traditional materials in teaching reading. It used fourth and fifth grade tutors with second grade regular grade students and also with older (ages eight to eleven) and younger (ages five to seven) educable mentally retarded students. Assessments included pretest and post-test of reading achievements and of reading attitudes, in addition to participant-observer ethnographic data. Different reading attitudes assessments were used for intermediate level students (fourth and fifth grades), primary students (second grades and older EMR class), and preprimary students (younger EMR class). The study included a pilot study, a tutor training program, and teacher instruction (supervisory classroom teachers), in addition to the tutoring and assessments. Tutoring occurred over five months on a twice per week basis. Results indicated that cross-age peer tutoring utilizing storytelling (language experience) and traditional methods can be useful reading/language arts tools. Findings indicate that tutoring appears to be as advantageous in promoting reading achievement as attendance in the regular classroom. In addition, results indicate that tutoring is an effective educational tool in schools with widely divergent racial differences and group test differences. However, there needs to be greater attention given to increased tutoring time, more sensitive test instruments, and maintaining interest in a replication of this study or for similar studies. EMR tutees improved more than second grade tutees in reading achievement, perhaps due to maturational chronological age levels. Females improved more than males in reading attitudes. Based on ethnographic data, both tutors and tutees appeared to benefit from the program.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Reading instruction|Special education

Recommended Citation

Maes, Michael Edward, "The use of storytelling in cross-age peer tutoring of reading with regular and educable mentally retarded tutees" (1994). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9431594.