A validation of teacher tutor selections for children with autism and concordance rates with student nominations
Jackson, Jennie Neighbors
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Students with autism are being included in regular education classrooms at an increased rate and these students often lack the social skills needed to interact effectively with their typical peers. Research has demonstrated that peer-mediated interventions, such as using peer tutors, are effective in increasing social and academic skills for the students with autism and typical peers. This investigation looks closer at the social characteristics of peers teachers are choosing to be tutors compared to students the teacher would not select as a tutor. This study also assessed the selected peers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions toward an unfamiliar student with autism. Finally, concordance rates were calculated between teacher and peer nominations in the areas of social status, behavioral characteristics, and peer tutor selection. Participants were 31 general education teachers and 576 children (194 third-, 172 fourth-, and 210 fifth-graders) from 31 classrooms within five public elementary schools in Northeast Georgia. Students and teachers first completed social status and behavioral characteristic nominations. Next, the students watched two videotapes of a boy engaging in typical and autistic behaviors. Following the tapes, the students responded to measures of attitude and behavioral intentions and were asked to choose peer tutors for each boy in the videotape. The teachers were also asked to choose peer tutors for each boy in the videotape and also nominate students they would not select as a peer tutor for the child with autism. Teacher selected tutors and teacher not selected tutors were compared on the following: gender, social status, behavioral characteristics, and attitudinal ratings and behavioral intentions toward the boy in the videotapes. Teacher selected tutors were more often boys, received higher peer nominations of Like Most and Most Popular, were more often categorized as sociometrically popular, and possessed high levels of prosocial behavior and leadership qualities. Overall, teacher selected tutors possessed higher attitudes and behavioral intentions for academic related tasks for the unfamiliar student whether typical or autistic. Correlation rates ranged from low to high between teacher and peer nominations of social status and behavioral characteristics. There was mixed agreement in regard to peer tutor selection.