The use of a peer-tutoring program to promote positive integration attitudes and outcomes for children in special (support) units

Yola Center, Robyn Beaman

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A small group of Year 4 students, selected from a regular primary school to which a support unit for physically disabled children was attached, were trained to work as peer tutors with three of the unit children. Their attitudes towards disabled children in general and their interactions with specific disabled children were measured at three different times during the school year; prior to the peer-tutoring intervention, immediately on termination of the intervention and three months after the intervention had ceased. In addition, all non-disabled Year 4 children from the same regular school who had experienced different levels of academic, social and physical exposure to the unit children were assessed on the same attitudinal measures. Results were compared with a control group of Year 4 students from a neighbouring school of similar socio-economic status, with no support unit on site, to see whether general attitudes towards disability were affected by exposure to disabled students. This indicated that, while the measured attitudes of peer tutors did not appear to change over the three occasions, observations of interactions suggested both a trend for increased positive socialisation immediately after the intervention and a corresponding decrease three months after termination, which was not exhibited by other Year 4 students. There were no differences in general attitude measures among the four different Year 4 classes, suggesting that measured attitudes towards disability do not appear to change as a result of differential exposure to disabled students. However, as there was some evidence that changes in interactions by a small group of target students were not paralleled by corresponding changes in measured attitudes towards disability, it is suggested that both procedures should be used to gauge the effectiveness of integration programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalThe Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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