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  1. 1. Using Peer Tutoring to Increase Social Interactions in Early Schooling YAOYING XU University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States JEFFREY GELFER University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States PEGGY PERKINS University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of classwide peer tutoring (CWPT), a peer-mediated teaching approach, on the social interaction behavior of children who are English language learners and children who are native English speakers. Two second-grade classrooms from an elementary school were selected as the research setting. CWPT was the independent variable, and children’s frequency of social interactions was the dependent variable. All children from the two settings were observed and videotaped during the study. Findings of this study indicated that CWPT was as effective for English language learners as it has been for native English speakers in shaping positive social interactions. In both groups, children engaged in very few negative behaviors. Questionnaires from the teachers and students indicated that both groups enjoyed the CWPT process, and they intended to continue using CWPT. The findings encourage teachers of English language students to implement CWPT regularly in their natural classroom settings. The results also indicate that the appropri- ate arrangement of learning environments is critical for children’s social interactions. The opportunities provided for social interactions contribute significantly to the educational success of English language students despite their limited English proficiency. W ith the United States moving toward a culturally and linguistically diverse society, teachers often feel unprepared to teach students whose primary language is not English. To help these students meet the higher national standards can be very challenging for all teachers, TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 39, No. 1, March 2005 83
  2. 2. especially for those in programs exclusively for nonnative students. Though most researchers and practitioners have focused on how to improve these students’ English language development, this study was conducted to examine the social interactions of English language learners through a peer-mediated approach, CWPT. In addition, English language students were compared with native English speakers to provide practical recommendations for teachers of both groups in inclusive settings. The study aims to help teachers develop alternative instructional strategies for teaching the growing population of English language learners. In 2000, in the United States, 3.5 million children ages 5 to 17 (about 15 percent of the total student population) had difficulty speaking English (Mather & Rivers, 2003). The ratio of these children increased from 5.3 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent in 2000 (Mather & Rivers, 2003). In addition, many more children in the United States speak a language other than English at home. These children may also face challenges because the family and school are not linked effectively (AmeriStat, 2002). THEORETICAL BACKGROUND Researchers have found links between children’s social skills deficits and delinquency, school dropout, and substance abuse in adolescence (Greene et al., 1999; Parker & Asher, 1987) and mental health problems in adulthood (Cowen, Pederson, Babigian, Izzo, & Trost, 1973; Strain & Odom, 1986). Guralnick (1990) defined social competence as “the ability of young children to successfully and appropriately select and carry out their interpersonal goals” (p. 4). Howes and Matheson (1992) defined children’s social competence with peers as behaviors and cognition that reflect successful social functioning with peers. A critical period for social development is the 6–8 age span (Dodge, Jablon, & Bickart, 1994; Flavell, 1977). Children at this age start to develop friendships and feel as though they are fitting in at school, thus motivating them to learn social skills (McCay & Keyes, 2001/2002). They want to pursue goals and feel a sense of accomplishment. Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory suggests that learning is a social process and social interaction is important for cognitive development. Vygotsky viewed human beings as meaning makers. He believed that a child co- constructs meaning through social interaction (Mahn, 1999). The child’s development is influenced by the social and cultural activities the child experiences and in which he or she grows up. Vygotsky’s (1978) concept of the zone of proximal development implies 84 TESOL QUARTERLY
  3. 3. two levels of growth: the actual level and the potential level. An individual achieves his or her actual level of development through independent problem solving; however, he or she will need guidance or collaboration from an adult or a more capable peer to reach the potential level of development. This concept underlines the interdepen- dence between individuals and the social processes in co-constructing knowledge ( John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996). Interactions with other chil- dren and with adults are the primary vehicles children have developed for learning about the world around them. In early childhood education, social play is viewed as a means to foster and enhance language, and cognitive, social, and emotional develop- ment (Ivory & McCollum, 1999). This is true for all children, regardless of their developmental level or their linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Play is an essential ingredient in early childhood programs, and it enhances every aspect of child development (Berk, 1999). Traditionally, Grades 1–3 are referred to as primary education, and primary education is separated from preschool or kindergarten educa- tion. Instruction for primary grades is mainly teacher directed and formal, including small- and large-group teaching combined with stu- dents’ independent work. Since the 1960s, developmental theories of Piaget, Bruner, Dewey, and Erikson have become popular and accepted in U.S. education (Henniger, 2002). Educators and other professionals have realized that primary-grade children think more like preschool and kindergarten children than older elementary children, and so they have emphasized play activities, child-initiated activities, hands-on manipula- tion of objects, and interaction with peers. Peer acceptance is a powerful predictor of current and later psycho- logical adjustment. Studies show that social behavior plays a critical role in causing a child to be liked or rejected (Berk, 1999). For example, popular children have very positive social skills. They communicate with peers in sensitive, friendly, and cooperative ways and are appropriately assertive. On the other hand, rejected children display a wide range of negative social behaviors. Social play and peer imitation are thought to be basic developmental processes to facilitate learning social skills (Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002; Ivory & McCollum, 1999). However, because of nonnative-English-speaking children’s limited English proficiency or different cultural background, these children’s social behaviors may be different from or less than that of their English- speaking peers. Most previous studies have focused on academic im- provement for children who have difficulty speaking English (e.g., Gersten & Baker, 2000b; Greenwood, Arreaga-Mayer, Utley, Gavin, & Terry, 2001). Very few researchers have examined the social interaction behaviors of these children. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 85
  4. 4. CLASSWIDE PEER TUTORING CWPT is a specific form of peer-mediated instruction that encourages children to learn from each other, facilitated and supported by the teacher. CWPT was originally developed to improve the academic performance of children from low socioeconomic, culturally diverse backgrounds in schools federally funded under Title I1 (Delquadri, Greenwood, Stretton, & Hall, 1983). In the past 20 years, CWPT has been used in general and special education settings. It has worked for children from diverse backgrounds and different developmental levels. Unlike other forms of peer tutoring that typically involve an older or more capable tutor for a younger or less capable tutee, CWPT involves reciprocal tutor-tutee pairs in the same classroom or age group. During the CWPT process, every child has an equal opportunity to be a tutor and a tutee. The process involves procedures such as the following: selecting instructional content and materials, pairing all students into tutor-tutee partners, regularly changing tutor-tutee partners, immediately correct- ing errors and giving points contingent upon performance, arranging the whole class into two teams competing for higher total points, posting individual and team scores, and socially rewarding the winning team (Greenwood, Delquadri, & Carta, 1988). Areas covered by CWPT include reading, assorted other language abilities, and mathematics (Chun & Winter, 1999). In their comprehen- sive review of literature on CWPT used for native-English-speaking children, DuPaul and Eckert (1998) reported that results from empirical studies in these areas have supported CWPT’s effectiveness. CWPT has been found superior to conventional forms of teacher-mediated instruc- tion in reading fluency and comprehension and mastery of other basic academic skills (Greenwood et al., 2001). It also helps low-achieving students improve spelling performance (Greenwood, Delquadri, & Hall, 1989; Maheady & Harper, 1987). In spite of its effectiveness for children with and without limitations in academic areas, few empirical studies have been done in general education settings on the relationship between CWPT and social interac- tions among primary-grade children whose first language is not English. The limited empirical studies on children learning English have almost all focused on their English language development or their academic performance (August, 1987; Gersten & Baker, 2000a; Greenwood et al., 2001). Greenwood and colleagues (2001) used the classwide peer 1 Title I is an amendment to the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Title I provides federal funds that address the needs of U.S. school districts with a large population of children living in poverty. 86 TESOL QUARTERLY
  5. 5. tutoring learning management system (CWPT-LMS) in the literacy instruction of elementary-level English language learners. August (1987) examined the effects of peer tutoring, other than CWPT, on second language acquisition of Mexican-American children. Similarly, Gersten and Baker (2000a) reported the effectiveness of peer tutoring and cooperative learning on English language learners’ English language development. Although some previous studies (e.g., Kamps, Kravits, Stolze, & Swaggart, 1999; Locke & Fuchs, 1995) have reported the effects of CWPT on peer interactions when it was combined with positive reinforcement or rewards, the effectiveness of CWPT without using positive reinforcement is unknown. Educators need to know if the improved peer interaction behavior resulted from the positive reinforce- ment or the CWPT. No previous studies have singled out the effective- ness of CWPT on social interactions isolated from other variables (DuPaul & Eckert, 1998). This study therefore focused on the social aspects of CWPT among the much under-studied English language student population. Furthermore, previous studies have provided few findings comparing the social behaviors of English language learners and native English speakers. Unfortunately, labeled as limited English proficient, English language learners are characterized by a particular deficiency. This characterization often results in a lower quality of education for these students in terms of materials, interactions, activities, and expectations, which themselves create deficiencies in many other dimensions (Faltis, 1997). To provide fair and equal educational opportunities for all individuals, educators must find out more about the relationship be- tween students’ cultural backgrounds and their social interactions. Furthermore, if such a relationship exists, educators need to determine whether the process of education has an effect on social interaction behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of CWPT on social interaction behaviors of English language learners and native English speakers in second-grade classrooms. Academic performance in math and spelling was used as content for the CWPT process, following previous research. Because of the reciprocal influence during the tutor- tutee procedure, English language learners and native English speakers from both classrooms were expected to benefit from this positive interaction. The hypothesis was that CWPT would increase English language learners’ social interactions as effectively as it increased native English speakers’ social interactions. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 87
  6. 6. METHODOLOGY Participants Participants were selected from an elementary school located in an urban city of a Southwestern state. Each of the two second-grade class- rooms had 14 students, which was typical for the first- and second-grade classrooms in the participating school. Their ages ranged from 7 to 8 years old. Seven children from each classroom (4 girls, 3 boys) were selected as the participants, with a total of 14 participants in this study. Purposeful selection was used to achieve gender parity in the sample. All seven participants from Class 1 were English language learners, whereas all seven participants from Class 2 were native English speakers. The English language learners were all enrolled in the local school district English language learner program and met the criteria estab- lished by the school district: (a) Primary language is not English; (b) proficiency in English is below the average proficiency of pupils at the same age or grade level whose primary language is English (i.e., at least one grade below based on the standardized English language proficiency test); and (c) probability of success is impaired in a classroom in which courses of study are taught only in English because of the student’s limited proficiency in that language. Data collection and analysis focused only on the 14 participants from the two classrooms, although all 28 children from the two classrooms were involved in the videotaping and CWPT process. All 28 children also received parental consent because the videotaping might include children in the setting who were not study participants. To enable the researchers to assess the participants’ prerequisite skills, the participants took a pretest on spelling and math before CWPT was implemented. The spelling test included 10 words and the math test included 10 one-to-two-digit addition problems. Both tests were devel- oped by the classroom teacher. If any participant received a score below 20% correct on either test, a one-on-one activity with the teacher was conducted to help the participant reach the criterion (20% correct at pretest). In Class 1, 5 out of 14 children did not meet the spelling test criterion and 3 of them did not meet the math test criterion. In Class 2, 3 participants did not meet the criterion for spelling and for math, respectively. After the one week of training, with one-on-one activity everyday, one student from Class 1 and one student from Class 2 still did not meet the spelling test criterion. For the purpose of this research, these two students were not selected as participants for data analysis. The range of the spelling test scores for Class 1 was from 20 to 80 with a mean of 50, and for Class 2 it was from 30 to 80 with a mean of 54. The range 88 TESOL QUARTERLY
  7. 7. of the math test scores for Class 1 was from 40 to 80 with a mean of 54, and for Class 2 it was from 50 to 80 with a mean of 60. Participating Teachers The two classroom teachers participated in this study. Teacher A from Class 1 had 2 years of teaching experience in an elementary school, with one year of experience teaching first grade and one year teaching second grade. Teacher B from Class 2 also had 2 years of teaching experience, with one year teaching fifth grade and one year teaching second grade. Both teachers have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Teacher A from Class 1 also has a certificate in teaching English language learner programs. Settings and Arrangement This study was conducted in two general education classrooms in a year-round school. Both classrooms were second grade with children 7– 8 years of age. Class 1 included 13 English language learners and one native English speaker, who was involved in the CWPT process but was not selected as a participant for this study. Class 2 included 13 native English speakers and one child who was bilingual (English and Spanish). This bilingual student was involved in the CWPT process but was not selected as a participant. Adults involved in the classroom during the 3-week observation period included the classroom teacher, a practicum student, a high school student worker, and the researcher (the lead author). A Title I reading teacher came in once a day, and two administrators came in once a week. Target Behavior (Dependent Variable) The target behavior in this study was the frequency of social interac- tions exhibited by the participants in CWPT and non-CWPT conditions. The whole research process was videotaped, and the coded number of social interactions was recorded. The social interactions were operation- ally defined as 15 social behaviors (Kreimeyer, Antia, Coyner, Eldredge, & Gupta, 1991). To establish the baseline data, the frequency of social interactions before CWPT was also videotaped. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 89
  8. 8. Materials and Equipment Materials and equipment needed for this study included a weekly tutoring list (1 per pair), tutoring worksheet, tutoring point sheet, help sign (1 per pair), and timer (1 for the whole class). These materials were modified from the CWPT manual developed by Greenwood, Delquadri, and Carter (1997) to meet the class’s age and developmental level according to the teacher’s weekly and monthly lesson plans. Each pair used learning materials related to the instructional content in the classroom, for example, a list of sight words, a set of counting cards, pictures of animals beginning with the same letter, upper-lower letter matching cards, or one-to-two digit number addition problems. The correct answer was indicated on the back of each card or on the tutoring worksheet. This practice allowed the tutors to offer correct responses that they could not yet independently make themselves. Instrumentation The social interaction observation system (SIOS) developed by Kreimeyer and colleagues (1991) was used to discriminate 15 social interaction behaviors that might occur during free play time (child- initiated activities) in the classroom. These 15 behaviors were divided into 7 positive behaviors, 5 passive behaviors, and 3 negative behaviors. The positive behaviors were • Child engages in positive interaction with peers. • Child engages in associative and/or cooperative play. • Child engages in positive linguistic interaction. • Peer(s) initiate interaction toward child. • Child responds positively to peer initiation. • Child initiates interaction toward peers. • Peer responds positively to child’s initiation. The passive behaviors were • Child engages in nonplay behavior. • Child engages in solitary play. • Child engages in parallel play. • Child makes no response to peer initiation. • Peers make no response to child’s initiation. 90 TESOL QUARTERLY
  9. 9. The negative behaviors were • Child directs negative behaviors toward peer(s). • Child responds negatively to peer initiation. • Peer(s) respond negatively to child’s initiation. Overall Procedure Baseline data were collected once a day, 5 days a week, for one week before the training of CWPT started. During baseline week, data were collected during the free play time immediately after the 20-minute teacher instruction on a certain academic content (spelling or math), between 9:30 and 10:00 in the morning. After the baseline week, a three- session training week of CWPT followed. Then came the intervention week. During the intervention week, data were collected during free play time also but immediately after the 20-minute CWPT procedure instead of after teacher instruction. The CWPT procedure was applied once a day for 5 days. Then another baseline week followed without CWPT. Although data were collected everyday during baseline and intervention weeks, only the days when all the selected participants attended were included for the data analysis. During the free play period, children initiated activities related to math, spelling, and reading. They were free to select their favorite activities among the four or five choices that the teacher had planned. The typical choices included buying and selling with play money, measurement, time telling, letter and word matching, and reading to each other with their own choice of books. Students also selected their own playmates for the activity. Sometimes they had to negotiate because only three or four people could play the same game simultaneously. Students were the decision makers while negotiating for the number of playmates in a specific play or in turn-taking to exchange games. The teacher served as a facilitator by preparing the materials and offering the choices of activities. This period of time varied from 10 to 20 minutes based on the teacher’s schedule, but data analyses were based only on the first 5 minutes. Data Analysis Class 1 had 15 observation sessions (5 weeks), and Class 2 had 9 observation sessions (3 weeks). To keep the number of observations equal for both groups, the repeated ANOVA measures were based on the USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 91
  10. 10. first 3 weeks’ observation. Each participant’s individual data were also compared and analyzed. Children from both groups were videotaped every day during baseline and intervention weeks, but only three sessions a week were used for data analysis. To control the researcher effect, the videotaped data were analyzed after the data were collected. During the data analysis, each participant was rated over four one-minute intervals, after the first minute of each free play session following the 20-minute teacher instruction (baseline week) or CWPT procedure (intervention week). For each one-minute interval, the social behaviors of the participant were marked as occurred (+) or not occurred (0). This process was repeated for the second participant in the class during a second viewing of the tape and so on until all seven participants in each of the two classrooms had been rated. The occurrence of each of the 15 behaviors was quantified and analyzed for each participant to ascertain the number of times each social behavior was exhibited. Interrater reliability was calculated by comparing the ratings of Observer A to Observer B on 25% of the videotaped CWPT and non- CWPT sessions. Observer A viewed all the videotapes and rated the social interaction behaviors of children from the two groups by using the SIOS. Then Observer B viewed 25% (6 out of 24 tapes) of the videotapes and rated children’s social behavior using SIOS. Interrater reliability on the SIOS was determined by [agreements/(agreements + disagreements)] x 100 = percent of agreement. The interrater agreement was 99.4% on the SIOS. Social Validity At the end of the study in each class, the teacher completed a 10-item survey (Teacher Satisfaction Questionnaire) developed by DuPaul, Ervin, Hook, and McGoey (1998) to examine her or his opinions about the benefits of using CWPT. Each item was answered on a 3-point Likert-type scale ranging from not true to very true. The survey not only included items on the students’ academic performance and social interactions, but also asked about the teachers’ opinions on implementing the CWPT procedure, managing time, their overall satisfaction, and whether they would continue to use the CWPT procedure and recommend it to others. To examine the students’ satisfaction, a five-item survey (Student Satisfaction Questionnaire) was administered in each class at the end of the study. The survey was adapted from the questionnaire by DuPaul and colleagues (1998). Because children in this study were younger and in a lower grade than the participants in the study by DuPaul and his 92 TESOL QUARTERLY
  11. 11. colleagues, the adapted questionnaire used only five items from the original to examine students’ perceptions on the use of CWPT.2 These five yes or no items assessed the degree to which they enjoyed peer tutoring and believed that it was helpful in peer interactions. In Class 1, the teacher read each question in both English and Spanish to ensure that every child understood its meaning. In Class 2 the teacher read each item only in English. The teacher explained and clarified any questions about the survey before children completed it. All children in each class were asked to complete the survey, although only the answers from the selected participants were used for the data analysis. RESULTS Social Interaction Observation System To determine whether the intervention (CWPT) was effective on both groups, SIOS data were analyzed using repeated ANOVA measures. This method increased the chances of making Type I error. That is, we might claim that CWPT was significantly effective when actually this was not the case. In this study, ANOVA was repeated 15 times for the 15 behaviors, which reduced the significance level to a more conservative rate (p < .005). This conservative rate reduced the likelihood that we would make a false claim. Results from the repeated ANOVA measures indicated an overall significant main effect across both groups for the intervention on 8 out of the 15 social interaction behaviors. Among these, 7 were positive behaviors and one was passive behavior. The 7 positive behaviors were positive interaction [F(2, 24) = 70,97, p < .001]; associative and/or coop- erative play [F(2, 24) = 15.076, p < .001]; positive linguistic interaction [F(2, 24) = 24.23, p < .001]; peer initiates interaction [F(2, 24) = 55.98, p < .001]; child responds positively [F(2, 24) = 82.34, p < .001]; child initiates interaction [F(2, 24) = 31.42, p < .001]; and peer responds positively [F(2, 24) = 66.56, p < .001]. All the positive behaviors were significantly increased from baseline to intervention and decreased when intervention was withdrawn. The ANOVA test results indicated the main effects of CWPT on social behaviors in two ways: (a) the overall number of social interaction behaviors was significantly increased for both groups by comparing the means between baseline and intervention condition (see Appendix, 2 Items include whether they enjoyed CWPT, whether they would like to adopt it again, whether it helps them to be a better student, make a friend, and so on, and whether they will share CWPT with friends. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 93
  12. 12. Table A1); (b) the quality of social interaction behaviors was also significantly improved during intervention, evidenced by the significant difference between intervention and baseline conditions on the 7 positive behaviors. The increasing pattern was similar for both groups. For example, in Class 1 (English language learners), the mean compari- son for positive interactions showed that the intervention week (mean = .95) was significantly different from the first baseline week (mean = .20) and from the second baseline week (mean = .18). Similarly, in Class 2 (native English speakers), the mean for positive interactions during intervention week (mean = .89) was significantly different from the first baseline (mean = .44) and from the second baseline ( mean = .32). The significant differences between baseline and intervention weeks were found in all 7 positive behaviors. Table A1 lists the detailed comparison for each behavior between the weeks. The paired t-test between Week 1 versus Week 2 and Week 2 versus Week 3 for each behavior also indicated that CWPT was statistically significant on 8 out of the 15 behaviors (see Appendix, Table A2). In addition to the effects on positive social interaction behaviors, the intervention showed a significant reverse effect on parallel play (passive behavior), [F(2, 24) = 57.39, p < 001]. Parallel play was defined as independent play side by side in similar activities, and social contact occurred only through gaze or imitation without verbal interaction with one another. Specific behaviors that were operationally defined as parallel play included reading side by side without interaction; matching letter or word cards together but each in his or her own way without communication; playing the math game by following the group leader only, with no interaction among the group members; or solving math problems with their own counting cubes and worksheet. Parallel play was frequent during the first baseline week. The reverse effect of CWPT on parallel play indicated that during the intervention week, parallel play decreased substantially (Class 1 mean = .0; Class 2 mean = .06) from the first baseline (Class 1 mean = .42; Class 2 mean = .69). When the intervention was withdrawn and the groups were back to baseline condition, parallel play increased again (Class 1 mean = .65; Class 2 mean = .70). No significant main effects were found on 7 passive or negative behaviors in both groups (see Table A2). These behaviors were Behavior 2 (negative behaviors), [F(2, 24) < 1, p > .5]; Behavior 3 (nonplay behaviors), [F(2, 24) = 4.15, p > .01]; Behavior 4 (solitary play), [F(2, 24) = 4.47, p > .01]; Behavior 10 (child responds negatively), [F(2, 24) = 1.84, p > .1]; Behavior 11 (child makes no response), [F(2, 24) = 2.71, p > .05]; Behavior 14 (peer responds negatively), [F(2, 24) = 4.5, p > .01]; and Behavior 15 (peer makes no response), [F(2, 24) = 3.50, p > .01]. All these passive or negative behaviors were rated very low across baseline 94 TESOL QUARTERLY
  13. 13. and intervention phases, but they were rated even lower during interven- tion. Although the main effects of intervention were not statistically significant on all these behaviors, the overall trend still indicated that during intervention the passive or negative behaviors were exhibited fewer times than during baseline conditions for both groups. The decreasing level of passive or negative behaviors was more obvious for Class 1 (English language learners) than for Class 2 (native English speakers). For example, the Class 1 mean for Behavior 4 (solitary play) during first baseline was .21 compared with Class 2 mean of .14. During intervention week, the Class 1 mean was reduced to .01 compared with Class 2 mean of .03. Throughout the study, children in both groups showed very few negative behaviors, either during baseline or intervention phases. Among all the observations of the study, only one negative behavior was observed. The child’s behavior was observed as negative when she refused to allow her peer to join in the math game during free play time by saying, “No, no.” Students’ verbal statements were also viewed and transcribed as qualitative data to support the finding of linguistic interaction. Overall, English language learners were engaged in more verbal interaction in addition to following the CWPT procedure than native English speakers were. Although no statistical difference was found in verbal interaction, the qualitative data did show that English language learners were making more positive social comments toward their peers than native English speakers during the CWPT procedure. The examples listed in Table 1 (see p. 100) indicate that English language learners made 10 comments, while native English speakers made only 5 during the same period of time. Teacher and Student Satisfaction Questionnaires At the end of this study, the two classroom teachers and all the participating students from both classes were asked to complete the satisfaction questionnaire. Both teachers answered with “very true” when asked whether using CWPT in their classrooms had social and academic benefits. Teacher A from Class 1 answered Item 5 (time consuming) with “somewhat true.” She also stated that “time consuming” was “somewhat true” in the beginning, but it was not so after the first week of implementing the intervention. Teacher B from Class 2 answered the last item (token economy and time-out) with “somewhat true.” He also commented that sometimes classroom management was necessary to organize activities. All 28 students from both classrooms answered “yes” to all five items from the Student Satisfaction Questionnaire, although data were collected and analyzed only on the 14 study participants. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 95
  14. 14. DISCUSSION In early childhood education programs, social play has been empha- sized by professionals and parents based on approaches of Dewey (1916), Vygotsky (1978), Parten (1932), and other theorists and educators. Even though Piaget believed that a child constructs new knowledge through actively exploring the environment and associating it with his or her own past experience, he also valued the role of play in the child’s social and emotional development. According to Piaget, play pushes children out of egocentric thought patterns by making them interact with other children in play situations and forcing them to consider their playmates’ viewpoints (Brewer, 1998). Learning is developed in the social context, and it works for all children. The social environment includes the child’s family, school, community, culture, and all other contexts that are relevant to the child. Undoubtedly, cultural differences affect how the child thinks. Vygotsky (1978) believed that the child’s cultural history and individual history are important factors influencing how the child interacts with others in the social context. Within that context, children share activities with others first, and then come away with individual experiences (Vygotsky, 1978). Children learn best when they positively interact with peers and adults in a meaningful activity (Phillips & Soltis, 1998). Unfortunately, many children whose primary language is not English have received lower quality of education in terms of materials, interactions, activities, and expectations (Faltis, 1997). Social Interaction Behaviors During Baseline and CWPT Procedure Based on the SIOS data collected and analyzed by the two observers, CWPT had a positive effect on the social behaviors of the English language learners and the native English speakers as predicted. The positive effects were identified by the repeated measures of ANOVA tests on the frequency of social interaction behaviors. One particularly interesting finding was that among the 8 behaviors that were significantly affected, all the 7 positive behaviors increased during intervention, as predicted. The other one behavior that was statistically significant was parallel play. However, it changed in the opposite direction of all 7 positive behaviors. While all the positive behaviors increased during intervention and decreased during baseline, parallel play decreased significantly during intervention and increased during baseline. This was the case for both groups, except for Child 7 from Class 1, who exhibited 0 (zero) frequency of parallel play during 96 TESOL QUARTERLY
  15. 15. the first baseline and first intervention phases. But even this child was engaged in parallel play during most of the observation time in the second and third baseline phases (8 of the 12 observation intervals). This finding conflicts with some of the studies on the sequence of children’s social play, especially Parten’s (1932) social play theory. According to Parten, children’s social or peer play can be sequenced in a meaningful order from simple, minimum social interaction to com- plex, maximum social interaction, with the complexity increasing as the child gets older. For younger preschoolers, parallel play dominates and associative play is limited. Then older preschoolers start to play associa- tively and by the time they reach prekindergarten and primary grades, associative and cooperative play dominate, although other simpler forms of play may never disappear altogether (Parten, 1932). In this study, children in both groups engaged more in parallel play during baseline conditions. Interestingly, children in both groups exhibited significantly fewer parallel play behaviors during intervention. This finding could be explained in two ways. First, the reduced parallel play may have a negative correlation with the increase of associative play. The associative play behaviors were defined operation- ally as engaging in a cooperative project such as measuring an object and writing it down, assigning different roles in a buying or selling interac- tion, negotiating for turn-taking in the math game, or reading a story together and answering questions related to the story. Data analysis indicated that both groups had significant associative or cooperative play during intervention. During baseline conditions, children in both groups engaged frequently in parallel play, and very few engaged in associative or cooperative play. When intervention was implemented, the data changed the other way around: Associative play increased significantly, and parallel play reduced greatly. Especially in Class 1, parallel play fell to zero during the first intervention phase. The decrease of parallel play indicates the effects of CWPT on positive social interaction behaviors such as associative and cooperative play. This result may imply that CWPT is an effective strategy for encouraging children to play associa- tively or cooperatively. Second, the tutor-tutee partnership that CWPT requires may contrib- ute to the increase of children’s associative and cooperative play. Although children were observed during free play time after CWPT was implemented rather than during the CWPT process, the significant difference can still be counted toward the effectiveness of the interven- tion because effects from peer tutoring can carry over for at least 24 hours (Brady, 1997). However, the effects of CWPT were not maintained after students returned to the baseline condition the next week. This finding could result from environmental influence in the classroom during teacher-directed instruction. For example, during baseline, all USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 97
  16. 16. students were assigned to sit at their own seats, side by side with each other. This formal classroom format might restrict students’ choice for social interaction. Even during free play time after the teacher’s instruc- tion, when students could have a choice of activities, they were not encouraged to leave their seats. Therefore, they tended to work at their own desks with their neighbors or by themselves instead of working as a team. Furthermore, the interaction during baseline was mostly one dimen- sional, with the teacher instructing and students receiving. This one- dimensional teacher-student pattern could affect the student-student interaction. For example, after teacher instruction during baseline week, a student was observed becoming the leader in the math game every time it was played. Even when another student repeatedly asked to be the leader, the other students ignored her requests. On the other hand, during CWPT week, students were encouraged to sit wherever they chose, and the students, rather than the teacher, were in control of the learning and teaching procedure. Every student had the opportunity to be the tutor and tutee during this process. This two- dimensional, child-initiated interaction during CWPT prepared children to be more interactive during the free play time that immediately followed. The effects of CWPT on positive social interaction behaviors were not maintained when CWPT was withdrawn because teacher- directed instruction influenced the students’ behavior. To find out the lasting effects of CWPT, alternative observations could be made at different times after CWPT is implemented but without applying teacher- directed instruction. The finding that children from both groups engaged more in parallel play but less associative and cooperative play during baseline, and more associative and cooperative play but less parallel play during interven- tion, implies that the routine classroom setting is more appropriate for parallel play than for associative play. Two pedagogical implications can be drawn from this finding: (a) English language learners and native English speakers have a similar pattern of peer interaction in the classroom setting. Therefore, teachers should always hold the same high expectations for both groups in terms of social skill development. (b) A relationship seems to exist between the instructional method and children’s social interaction. Specifically, when teacher-directed instruc- tion (baseline) was applied, parallel play dominated in both groups; when student-initiated instruction (CWPT) was employed, cooperative play increased significantly. Based on this finding, teachers may want to encourage more student-initiated activities to promote social skill devel- opment by creating a classroom environment that facilitates such social interaction. 98 TESOL QUARTERLY
  17. 17. Different from a preschool setting, the primary-grade classrooms are more academically arranged. For example, each child has an assigned desk with his or her name on it. More academic activities are involved in primary-grade children’s play than in younger children’s play (Brewer, 1998). Children may be more used to and trained to do their own work for an assignment in class because of the schedule or the curriculum requirement. Furthermore, although Parten (1932) and Howes and Matheson (1992) all suggested that parallel play decreases as age increases, it never completely disappears. Children at different age levels always engage in some type of parallel play. Regardless of the participat- ing children’s culturally and linguistically different backgrounds, every child in the study showed a significant increase in all 7 positive social interaction behaviors. Table A1 also shows that positive social interaction behaviors were more obvious for the English language learners than for the native English speakers during CWPT intervention. The greater effectiveness of the intervention for English language learners implies that they are more willing to interact with their peers when the environment is appropriately prepared for them (see Table 1). In Table 1, among the 10 verbal statements made by children from the English language learners group, 8 were about the social initiation and response beyond the CWPT procedure (e.g., “Good job. You are a genius!” “It’s your turn. I will wait.”). Fewer verbal statements were observed in the native English speakers group and most of their comments were required by the CWPT procedure. For example, 4 of the 5 statements from the native English speakers comment directly on the partner’s CWPT task behavior (e.g., “I want to be the tutor today.” “Can you say again, please?”). Compared with the native English speakers, the English language learners were not only doing their job (as assigned CWPT partners), but also interacting with each other with natural social prompts (“You are a genius!” “You are great!”). According to Montessori’s theory, children learn best in a well- prepared, child-centered environment in which children can do things for themselves (Morrison, 1998). Children are always curious about new information and knowledge. The diverse cultural and linguistic back- grounds among English language learners can actually stimulate children’s motivation to interact with each other. For example, when a new student from Bosnia came into Class 1, almost every child in the class was trying to learn some new words in this student’s language. At the same time, they all volunteered to teach the student English words and phrases such as sit down, books, go to lunch, and let’s play. More peer interaction was observed during the week when the new student was introduced to the class. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 99
  18. 18. TABLE 1 Qualitative Data From Videotaped Observation During Intervention ID No. Source Verbal Statement Child 5 Tape 6 “You know you can do it.” Child 5 Tape 10 “You are doing good.” Child 2 Tape 6 “Can you make a ten? You are great!” Child 1 Tape 11 “Good job. You are a genius!” Child 13 Tape 12 “Try your best!” Child 3 Tape 6 “I like it! This is fun!” Child 5 Tape 15 “You can join us. This is fun.” Child 12 Tape 17 “Try it again. I know you can do it.” Child 14 Tape 17 “You guys are doing better today.” Child 7 Tape 9 “Can you read this to me?” Child 7 Tape 11 “It’s your turn. I will wait.” Child 3 Tape 18 “When will we do CWPT again? I like it!” Child 6 Tape 17 “I got better points today.” Child 9 Tape 9 “I want to be the tutor today.” Child 10 Tape 9 “Can you say again, please?” Note. Children 1–7 are English language learners; 8–14 are native English speakers. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY Although researchers and educators agree on the critical role of children’s social competence, few studies have been conducted to examine the social skills of English language learners and how that would influence child development. Using a fine-grained and well- designed peer-mediated instructional strategy, CWPT, this study focused on the social aspects of English language learners and native English speakers in the general education setting. The present study indicates that CWPT was effective in increasing and improving the social interaction behaviors of both English language learners and native English speakers. However, because of this study’s small sample size, the statistical power for group comparison is low. Further studies need to compare these two groups by using a larger, randomly selected sample. In addition, English language learners in this study were primarily from Hispanic backgrounds. More data are needed for English language learners from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This study indicates an inverse relationship between the intervention and parallel play. Future studies can examine the relationship between 100 TESOL QUARTERLY
  19. 19. children’s parallel play, the educational setting, and the instructor’s teaching style. Further study is also needed to investigate the relationship between parallel play and children’s cultural differences. Additionally, the lasting effects of CWPT need to be further examined. Instead of being withdrawn during baseline for statistical purposes, as in this and some other studies (e.g., DuPaul et al., 1998; Locke & Fuchs, 1995), CWPT could be applied on a continuous basis across settings, students, and events. Despite the need for more research, this study shows that CWPT will be an effective instructional approach for teachers of primary-grade English language learners as well as native English speakers. The strength of CWPT lies in the equal opportunities it provides for all students to learn and interact in the same setting, regardless of their different skill levels. As a student-centered approach, CWPT can be easily incorporated into the lesson plan and does not deprecate the active role of the classroom teacher. As a facilitator, the teacher prepares a develop- mentally appropriate environment in a friendly, nonthreatening atmo- sphere. Students interact with each other as a group and as individuals. Furthermore, in an inclusive setting with both English language learners and native English speakers, CWPT’s partnership feature will promote positive social interactions. The strategy of CWPT also helps English language learners and all individuals with specific needs to overcome the fear of failure and embarrassment. CWPT provides English language learners with multiple opportunities to succeed in spite of their limited language proficiency. THE AUTHORS Yaoying Xu, is an assistant professor in the Department of Exceptional Education at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Dr. Xu’s research interests include using peer-mediated instruction to increase social interactions of children with diverse backgrounds and linking assessment and early intervention for young children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. Jeffrey Gelfer is a professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Gelfer’s research interests include developing teacher training programs for inclusive early childhood settings. Peggy Perkins is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Perkins’s research interests include self- efficacy of young children and application of instructional strategies. USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 101
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  22. 22. APPENDIX TABLE A1 Means and Standard Deviations of the Main Effects for the SIOS Week Baseline (A) Intervention (B) Baseline (A) M SD M SD M SD 1. Positive Interactions ELL (n=7) .20 .19 .95 .066 .18 .16 NES (n=7) .44 .21 .89 .12 .32 .12 2. Negative behaviors ELL (n=7) .024 .063 .012 .032 .060 .12 NES (n=7) .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 3. Nonplay behaviors ELL (n=7) .15 .14 .024 .041 .012 .032 NES (n=7) .024 .041 .012 .032 .060 .063 4. Solitary play ELL (n=7) .21 .20 .012 .032 .23 .22 NES (n=7) .14 .19 .036 .066 .095 .10 5. Parallel play ELL (n=7) .42 .24 .00 .00 .65 .17 NES (n=7) .69 .27 .060 .079 .70 .19 6. Associative and/or cooperative play ELL (n=7) .14 .16 .96 .045 .095 .16 NES (n=7) .13 .18 .89 .093 .14 .10 7. Positive linguistic interaction ELL (n=7) .51 .20 .95 .045 .46 .33 NES (n=7) .65 .20 .90 .075 .45 .13 8. Peer initiates interaction ELL (n=7) .27 .12 .89 .12 .18 .15 NES (n=7) .37 .22 .74 .16 .20 .16 9. Child responds positively ELL (n=7) .21 .12 .89 .12 .083 .096 NES (n=7) .31 .19 .73 .15 .20 .16 10. Child responds negatively ELL (n=7) .012 .032 .00 .00 .060 .093 NES (n=7) .012 .032 .00 .00 .00 .00 11. Child makes no response ELL (n=7) .036 .045 .00 .00 .036 .045 NES (n=7) .048 .066 .00 .00 .00 .00 (Continued on p. 105) 104 TESOL QUARTERLY
  23. 23. TABLE A1 (continued) Means and Standard Deviations of the Main Effects for the SIOS Week Baseline (A) Intervention (B) Baseline (A) M SD M SD M SD 12. Child initiates interaction ELL (n=7) .23 .093 .87 .081 .37 .34 NES (n=7) .51 .16 .87 .11 .29 .21 13. Peer responds positively ELL (n=7) .17 .068 .87 .081 .14 .16 NES (n=7) .43 .18 .82 .15 .25 .17 14. Peer responds negatively ELL (n=7) .00 .00 .00 .00 .036 .045 NES (n=7) .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 15. Peer makes no response ELL (n=7) .048 .66 .00 .00 .19 .18 NES (n=7) .083 .048 .048 .094 .036 .045 Notes. Significant at the p < .005 level. Week = the baseline or intervention week, ELL = English language learners, NES = native English speakers, M = mean, SD = standard deviation. TABLE A2 Paired t -Test for Week 1 vs. Week 2 and Week 2 vs. Week 3 Weeks t p 1. Positive interactions Week 1 (M=.32, SD=.23) vs. Week 2 (M=.92, SD=.10) 7.73 .000* Week 2 (M=.92, SD=.10) vs. Week 3 (M=.25, SD=.16) 11.96 .000* 2. Negative behaviors Week 1 (M=.012, SD=.04) vs. Week 2 (M=.006, SD=.02) .43 .67 Week 2 (M=.006, SD=.02) vs. Week 3 (M=.03, SD=.02) .94 .37 3. Nonplay behaviors Week 1 (M=.09, SD=.03) vs. Week 2 (M=.02, SD=.04) 2.20 .05 Week 2 ( M=.02, SD=.04) vs. Week 3 (M=.04, SD=.05) .90 .39 4. Solitary play Week 1 (M=.18, SD=.19) vs. Week 2 (M=.02, SD=.05) 3.00 .01 Week 2 (M=.02, SD=.05) vs. Week 3 (M=.16, SD=.18) 2.7 .02 (Continued on p. 106) USING PEER TUTORING TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS 105
  24. 24. TABLE A2 (continued) Paired t -Test for Week 1 vs. Week 2 and Week 2 vs. Week 3 Weeks t p 5. Parallel play Week 1 (M=.55, SD=.28) vs. Week 2 (M=.03, SD=.06) 7.36 .000* Week 2 (M=.03, SD=.06) vs. Week 3 (M=.68, SD=.17) 12.35 .000* 6. Associative and/or cooperative play Week 1 (M=.14, SD=.17) vs. Week 2 (M=.93, SD=.08) 14.20 .000* Week 2 (M=.93, SD=.08) vs. Week 3 (M=.12, SD=.13) 17.70 .000* 7. Positive linguistic interaction Week 1 (M=.58, SD=.20) vs. Week 2 (M=.93, SD=.06) 5.65 .000* Week 2 (M=.93, SD=.06) vs. Week 3 (M=.56, SD=.24) 6.97 .000* 8. Peer initiates interaction Week 1 (M=.32, SD=18) vs. Week 2 (M=.82, SD=.16) 6.12 .000* Week 2 (M=.82, SD=.16) vs. Week 3 (M=.19, SD=.14) 15.71 .000* 9. Child responds positively Week 1 (M=.26, SD=.16) vs. Week 2 (M=.81, SD=.15) 7.30 .000* Week 2 (M=.81, SD=.15) vs. Week 3 (M=.14, SD=.14) 13.09 .000* 10. Child responds negatively Week 1 (M=.01, SD=.03) vs. Week 2 (M=.00, SD=.00) 1.47 .17 Week 2 (M=.00, SD=.00) vs. Week 3 (M=.03, SD=.07) 1.59 .14 11. Child makes no response Week 1 (M=.04, SD=.05) vs. Week 2 (M=.006, SD=.02) 2.12 .05 Week 2 (M=.006, SD=.02) vs. Week 3 (M=.02, SD=.04) 1.00 .34 12. Child initiates interaction Week 1 (M=.37, SD=.20) vs. Week 2 (M=.87, SD=.09) 9.54 .000* Week 2 (M=.87, SD=.09) vs. Week 3 (M=.33, SD=.27) 6.09 .000* 13. Peer responds positively Week 1 (M=.30, SD=.19) vs. Week 2 (M=.85, SD=.12) 8.98 .000* Week 2 (M=.85, SD=.12) vs. Week 3 (M=.20, SD=.17) 9.06 .000* 14. Peer responds negatively Week 1 (M=.00, SD=.00) vs. Week 2 (M=.00, SD=.00) ... ... Week 2 (M=.00, SD=.00) vs. Week 3 (M=.02, SD=.04) 1.88 .08 15. Peer makes no response Week 1 (M=.07, SD=.06) vs. Week 2 (M=.02, SD=.07) 1.84 .09 Week 2 (M=.02, SD=.07) vs. Week 3 (M=.11, SD=.15) 1.95 .07 *Significant at the p < .005 level. 106 TESOL QUARTERLY