Understanding the impact of peer-assisted learning strategies

Elementary school children reading a book, photo by Rawpixel.com/Adobe Stock

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Stock

Background

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies for Reading UK (PALS-UK) is a form of class-level interventions in schools with the aim of improving children’s reading comprehension and fluency. It pairs pupils with stronger and weaker skills, who read to each other and correct mistakes in the reading of their assigned partner. PALS have been widely implemented and studied in the US, but high quality, rigorous evidence is lacking. It is a strong candidate for evaluation as it provides structure for within-class peer interactions, which is supported by the literature, and makes scale-up more feasible.

Goals

RAND Europe was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to carry out an evaluation of PALS-UK. The evaluation will seek to understand the impact of PALS-UK on reading attainment for both strong and weak readers and will assess how effectively the intervention is implemented.

Methodology

The project team is conducting a two-group, cluster-randomised controlled trial in around 80 schools in North East England, with schools being assigned to either treatment (PALS-UK) or control (business as usual).

An evaluation will be conducted testing the reading skills and improvements in children. Reading attainment of children in intervention group schools will be compared to those in control group schools to see how much the children who took part have improved as a result of PALS-UK. The trial protocol will be published in the second quarter of 2019 and an evaluation report after the intervention concludes in 2020. Further details can be found on the Education Endowment Foundation project page.