Peer Supports and Networks

Randomized Evaluation of Peer Support Arrangements to Support the Inclusion of High School Students With Severe Disabilities

Randomized group experiment to investigate the efficacy of peer support arrangements on academic and social outcomes for students with severe disabilities. Peer partners were trained to provide academic and social assistance by special education teachers and paraprofessionals. Participants with disabilities increased social interactions and participation with peers, academic engagement, progress on social goals, and a greater number of new friendships. In addition, many of the relationships continued for one or two semesters following the intervention.

Carter, Erik W., Jennifer Asmus, Colleen K. Moss, Elizabeth E. Biggs, Dan M. Bolt, Tiffany L. Born, Matthew E. Brock, et al. “Randomized Evaluation of Peer Support Arrangements to Support the Inclusion of High School Students With Severe Disabilities.” Exceptional Children 82, no. 2 (January 2016): 209–33.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

Learn how to get started in implementing peer support arrangements and networks. Read I Have Great Friends.

Effects of peer support interventions on students’ access to the general curriculum and social interactions

Peer support interventions are emerging as an effective alternative to traditional paraprofessional models for assisting students with moderate to severe disabilities to access the general curriculum. To contribute to the refinement of peer support interventions, we evaluated the impact of altering the number of participating peers on the social and academic outcomes of students with and without disabilities. Our findings indicated that changes in the configuration of peer support arrangements differentially affected student outcomes. Specifically, higher levels of social interaction and contact with the general curriculum were observed when students with disabilities worked with two peers relative to one peer. The additive benefits of a second peer provide guidance to educators concerning the implementation of peer support interventions in inclusive classrooms.

Carter, E. W., Cushing, L. S., Clark, N. M., & Kennedy, C. H. “Effects of peer support interventions on students’ access to the general curriculum and social interactions.” Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 30, no. 1 (2005): 15-25.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

How can you facilitate peer support interventions with your students? Read more about the impact of peers in the personal story, From Isolation to Inclusion.

Peer supports as an alternative to individually assigned paraprofessionals in inclusive high school classrooms

Promoting access to the general curriculum has emerged as a central theme of the standards-based reform movement, challenging educators to identify effective strategies for supporting students with disabilities to access the numerous social and learning opportunities within general education. We examined peer support interventions as an alternative to one-to-one, adult-delivered support in high school science and art classrooms. All four participants with severe disabilities engaged in substantially more peer interactions when working with peer support relative to when receiving direct support from a paraprofessional or special educator. Students' levels of academic engagement were not diminished because of participation in peer support arrangements. We discuss the contributions of these strategies to promoting peer interaction within inclusive classrooms, as well as offer recommendations for further refinement of this intervention approach.

Carter, E. W., Sisco, L. G., Melekoglu, M. A., & Kurkowski, C. “Peer supports as an alternative to individually assigned paraprofessionals in inclusive high school classrooms.” Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 32, no. 4 (2005): 213-227.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

Consider how a peer might more naturally and effectively provide support during instruction. Enroll in the Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism Training Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention to learn more.