Effects of cross-age tutors with EBD on the mathematics performance of at-risk kindergarteners
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Challenges with numerical proficiency at an early age can lead to substantial gaps in learning and are associated with detrimental long-term outcomes. Additionally, the academic and behavioral needs of students with emotional-behavioral disorders (EBD) have been identified as some of the most challenging to address. The purpose of this study was to identify the effects and related outcomes of utilizing cross-age tutors (i.e., older students) with, or at-risk for EBD to deliver a number line board game intervention to kindergarten students at-risk for mathematics disabilities. A concurrent multiple baseline design across participants was utilized to evaluate results related to the following research questions: (1) What effects will a number line game delivered by a cross-age tutor with EBD have on the early numeracy knowledge and skills of kindergarten students at-risk for math disabilities? (2) Can students with EBD effectively serve in the role of cross-age tutors (i.e., implement instruction with fidelity and increase tutees’ number sense skills)? (3) What effects will the training and implementation of the cross-age tutoring program have on the tutors’ behavioral performance as well as overall risk status for EBD? Tutoring sessions took place for 25–30 minutes, three times per week, over 10 weeks. Results suggest this cross-age tutoring program to be an effective and feasible model for significantly improving mathematical performance of tutees at-risk for mathematics disabilities and, to a lesser extent, the behavioral ratings of students with EBD. Distal measures showed the intervention’s moderate effect on tutees’ mathematics performance and large effect on decreasing tutors’ risk-status for EBD. Tutors implemented the intervention procedures with high rates of fidelity and, in combination with the significant gains by their tutees, demonstrated the ability of students with EBD to effectively serve as cross-age tutors. In assessing the social validity of this instructional model, the implementing special educator rated the intervention to be effective and beneficial, although challenges were identified in the area of scheduling. All tutors and tutees perceived the program as effective in promoting mathematics skills for the tutees and positive behavioral developments for the tutors. Limitations, implications for practice, and areas of future research are discussed.