Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS), the popular buddy system in reading, has helped many students increase reading achievement. But, about 20% of low-achieving non-disabled students and more than 50% of students with disabilities do not respond to PALS, according to a recent review of the research in Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal.
In one study that examined non-responders, researchers explored several ways to increase response rates with one of three methods: 1) more time with PALS, 2) modified version of PALS, 3) one-to-one tutoring.
After 13 additional weeks of these interventions (following a 7-week PALS program), researchers found that of those students who continued to receive PALS, 81% remained unresponsive. Of those who received a modified version of PALS, 75% remained unresponsive and of those who received one-to-one tutoring, 50% remained unresponsive.
The results of the study suggests that simply providing students with more time in PALS is not likely to improve their response, the researchers write. “As with any instructional approach, it is critical to frequently monitor students’ progress to determine whether they are making sufficient progress in reading,” they write.
(Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, pp. 97-112.)