Introduction to Peer Tutoring in General Physical Education
Lauren J. Lieberman
Taken in part from:
Lieberman, J. & Houston-Wilson (2002).
Strategies for Inclusion: A Handbook for Physical Educators. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Today it has been well documented that over 93% of children with disabilities are included in their neighborhood schools and general physical education. The use of peer tutoring programs can help to facilitate inclusion. The concept of peer tutoring in physical education is not new. Project PEOPLE was started in 1980 (Long et al. 1980) and included a training protocol and specific guidelines for implementation. There are several key reasons to implement a peer tutoring program in physical education.
Justifications for Using a Peer Tutor Program
- Children with disabilities need smaller ratios for learning than children without disabilities.
- One-to-one instruction increases academic learning time (DePaepe, 1985; Webster, 1987
- Students who have the opportunity to teach skills learn the skills better? (Briggs, 1975).
- Peer tutoring increases leadership experience among the tutees (Rink, 1998).
- Peer tutoring stimulates socialization among peers.
- Cooperative learning experiences promote more interpersonal attraction between students with and without disabilities, higher self-esteem, and greater empathy on the part of all the children.
- Participation together as partners and equals will encourage positive relationships (Sinibaldi, 2001).
The most important reason, of course, is that it allows for individualized instruction. Peer tutoring gives students with disabilities time in class to work on developmental skills vital to their involvement in physical activity in the future. Peer tutoring provides a situation in which the child with a disability receives instruction, increased practice, increased reinforcement, and continuous feedback on progress by the tutor on a one-to-one basis (Delquadri et al. 1986). Peer tutoring is an appropriate, effective way to set up meaningful practice with the opportunity for high rates of motor-appropriate practice. The simple implementation of a trained peer tutor can improve the level of skill for the student with a disability. When students are inconsistent or do not perform skills correctly, not only do they fail to appropriately learn the skills but they also may actually learn them incorrectly. Besides its high success rate, peer tutoring is appealing because it is an inexpensive way to help students with disabilities succeed in the general physical education class (Barfield, Hannigan-Downs, & Lieberman, 1998; Houston-Wilson, Lieberman, Horton, and Kasser, 1997).