Research has shown that peers can be trained as effective instructors to teach a wide range of skills to children with disabilities including academic, social, and adaptive skills. Peers are typical partners and role models, and the interaction between children with disabilities and their peers can be beneficial for both. Peer tutors can not only provide support to learners with disabilities, but also strengthen their own skills and knowledge in the process. Peer models, peer buddies, and small groups are examples of peer-mediated strategies that can be used across different settings (e.g., classrooms, playground, lunch, etc.). Additionally, working closely with students with disabilities allows typical developing peers to become empathetic to differences in learning and ability of others. Another benefit to using peers for support and instruction is that it allows the teacher time to be more efficient and work with other students in the classroom.
When training peers to work with children with disabilities, it is important to train them to an acceptable degree of reliability (i.e., peers will respond in an appropriate way most of the time). This can be done by providing the peer with visual and/or written materials, modeling what is expected, practicing with them, and providing them with positive feedback and reinforcement for their behavior.
Selecting Peers for Peer-Mediated Interventions
- Peers should be of similar age to the target child.
- Peers should be motivated and willing to participant in the process of assisting the target child.
- Peer should exhibit positive social and communication skills to be an effective partner.
- Selecting peers who exhibit consistent school attendance is beneficial for an effective, dependable relationship with the target child.
Examples of Peer-Mediated Interventions:
To cite this page (APA 6th edition):
- Morales, V.A. & Ledford, J.R. (2016). Peer training. In Evidence-based instructional practices for young children with autism and other disabilities. Retrieved from http://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/ebip/peer-training