Paraprofessionals- Are they a help or a hindrance to students with disabilities? Presented by Erin White July 25, 2006
Paraprofessionals need training in facilitating peer interaction.
Recent research suggests that paraprofessionals lack appropriate facilitative training in dealing with students with disabilities. Therefore, their presence in the general education classroom has been shown to be detrimental to the social development of those students. The proximity and facilitative behaviors demonstrated by a paraprofessional are the key factors.
A professional development program that trains paraprofessionals to facilitate peer interactions is highly recommended.
A study published this year revealed that close physical proximity of a paraprofessional significantly impeded the number of peer interactions experienced by that student. 90% of peer interactions were observed as having occurred when the paraprofessional was not within close proximity.
A third study published in 2005 found that paraprofessionals who had attended a training program aimed at facilitating peer interactions had significantly increased their facilitative behaviors post-intervention. Also, rates of student interaction dramatically increased immediately and were maintained through the maintenance probe.