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Effects of peer management on the teaching performance of paraprofessional staff working with mentally retarded adults

Richard Kevin Fleming, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Ensuring generalization and maintenance of the effects of staff training is a significant challenge in human service settings. The application of behavioral management procedures, especially performance feedback, has proved particularly effective in meeting that challenge. However, few studies have reported management of such procedures by co-workers (peers). This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of a package consisting of inservice training and a peer management program on the promotion and maintenance of instructional interactions of paraprofessional staff working with mentally retarded clients. Three pairs of subjects, vocational instructors at a large residential facility for the developmentally disabled, participated directly at their job sites. Dependent measures of staff instruction included complete and incomplete teaching interactions, and contingent reward. Collateral measures their client's performance included engagement with work materials for prevocational-level clients and rates of productivity for vocational-level clients. The experimental phases, introduced in multiple baseline fashion across the three pairs of subjects, were: (1) baseline, (2) inservice training of teaching skills, (3) return to baseline, (4) training in peer management, (5) peer management, (6) instructions to fade peer management, and (7) follow-up.^ The peer management program was associated with increased and sustained levels of high quality teaching by all subjects. Two subjects had previously demonstrated short-term gains in teaching skills following inservice training. Collateral measures of client performance indicated increased work productivity among nine of eleven vocational-level clients, but minimal effects on engagement among the prevocational-level clients. The results obtained in this study support benefits to staff and clients through utilizing paraprofessional peers as managers of the performance of their co-workers. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Educational psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Fleming, Richard Kevin, "Effects of peer management on the teaching performance of paraprofessional staff working with mentally retarded adults" (1990). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9110138.