Peer Tutoring of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

Internal practice

Duration

We have been executing the programme at our school for six years and it is still ongoing

Partnership

We have transferred the peer tutoring approach from the school environment to the nearby social environment, specifically to the Velenje Adult Care Centre, the Velenje Andragogical Institute, and the Planet of Generations Multigenerational Centre, as well as to local kindergartens and primary schools.

Reason it was developed

The reasons for introducing tutoring at our school are: - Students aged between 21 and 26 with mild intellectual disabilities and on level VI of the special programme are recognised as adults and treated accordingly. - The fact is that some students study in the special programme for as many as 20 years. Due to this extended period, their motivation to acquire or consolidate academic knowledge decreases. Both parents and students are interested in content that influences the development of work, social and motor skills. - The decision to implement peer tutoring is supported by encouraging research findings that show a number of positive effects of tutoring.

Activities

The peer tutoring approach is established systematically and operationalised with the content and goals included in the special programme. It is implemented within lessons, planned in a goal-oriented way, and executed and evaluated on an ongoing basis. We have upgraded and expanded the activities included in the peer tutoring approach over the years. A set of activities has been created within which the tutors (students of level VI of the special programme) transfer knowledge, experience and skills to those being tutored (students of levels I and II of the special programme): - leisure activities: playing board games (Ludo, One) and massage; - physical activities: dancing, polygon, walking, elementary games; - functional learning; - activities according to the annual work plan (e.g., making and performing graphomotor exercises). The activities are monitored and systematically managed by professionals. We constantly strive to increase the share of student activity in the activities. The teacher has the role of counsellor, guide and motivator, while taking into account the specifics of each student. Before the introduction of the tutoring approach, we execute the individual activities on a trial basis, observing the behaviour, knowledge and specifics of individual students. Based on this trial, we can establish an initial grade for each individual student and then establish progress indicators. When deciding on the tasks that the tutor will take on, it is important that the tutor’s abilities are higher in the area in which he or she offers help. Therefore, all of the activities take place in such a way that the tutors first become acquainted with the topic and then transfer the knowledge to those being tutored. At our school, we mostly implement interpersonal tutoring of people with mild intellectual disabilities as a form of individual help within a group. This means that it can be placed and executed during lessons in the form of group work, when tutors and those being tutored follow the same content (with different roles and established individual goals), under the constant guidance of professionals.

Results

The peer tutoring approach has proven to be an interesting and effective complement to the usual work in the classroom on developing social skills. The development of these skills is crucial in level VI of the programme. In addition to the planned social skill goals (e.g., following rules when cooperating with others, using polite phrases and elements of non-verbal communication, and responding in new social situations), there is parallel development of other social and communication skills that are important to the individual for entering the social environment and for developing interactions, such as the appropriate amount of offering help and praise, waiting in line patiently, developing tolerance towards classmates, establishing appropriate relationships, and tolerant expression. Students receive many incentives for communication and consequent feedback. At the same time, they experience confirmation and develop a positive self-image and an awareness that they can help others while at the same time encountering a sense of responsibility. Tutors develop responsibility towards those being tutored and experience personal fulfilment, while everyone experiences a sense of mutual belonging. There is a spontaneous development of mutual interaction: the students talk to each other, listen to each other and guide each other. It is evident that they learn from each other, as well as learning about themselves. All of this contributes to their overall development. It is important to note that in the peer tutoring approach, both the tutors and those being tutored benefit, and that the positive effects pass between the tutor and the person being tutored: when the tutor transfers what he or she has learned to the person being tutored, he or she simultaneously consolidates the learned content and learns how to guide another person. The person being tutored, on the other hand, receives the tutor’s knowledge and learns. A crucial aspect of the peer tutoring approach is that the tutors have successfully transferred the knowledge and skills acquired in peer tutoring activities to other social environments outside the school. For example, the knowledge and skills related to playing board games have been successfully used in the Adult Care Centre (the tutors played with the residents of the centre), in the regular primary school, and in the Andragogy Institute of the People’s University in the Planet of Generations Multigenerational Centre. They have also transferred the acquired skills in performing massage to residents of the Velenje Adult Care Centre, with the necessary adjustments. As reported by the parents of the tutors, the latter have transferred the skills acquired while performing peer tutoring to the home environment. This has been most evident in their relationship with nephews and grandparents. Parents report that the tutors play board games with them, take the initiative to play, and display a desire to teach or offer help. One student used the knowledge acquired in the field of massage with her grandmother.

Funding

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Links

Slovenia
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