Peer Support in Inclusive Settings

Happy teenage students examining DNA model and taking notes in science class

The current nationwide focus on inclusive supports challenges school systems to use all available resources to provide instruction in the general education setting. We are familiar with in-class supports provided by adults such as co-teaching and support facilitation. However, there are other strategies that are appropriate for students who do not require the level of adult intervention provided by co-teaching and support facilitation.

Peer support is a strategy that involves placing students in pairs or small groups to participate in learning activities that support academic instruction and social skills. This instructional approach does not require additional staff or extra funding. It is a research-based methodology that yields positive results related to student achievement over the course of time. Peer supports provide teachers with a learning tool to enhance instruction for students with disabilities.

The information that follows details three innovative ways that peer supports can be used to meet the instructional and social needs of students with disabilities in the general education setting. There are several types of peer support that can be used to assist with instruction. The three that will be reviewed in this article are collaborative learning, cross-age supports, and peer modeling.


Consider how you plan to use peer supports during instruction. Determine if peer tutoring is required for your lesson. If needed, identify the students who will require tutoring and how it will be provided. The following information can be used to help determine which students will receive cross-age or same-age tutoring, and then identify how it will be incorporated into the instructional day.

There are several resources available to learn more about peer supports. You may begin your search for resources on your own campus or in other classes in your school districts. Stay current by attending teacher training and reading educational magazines that include successful practices involving peer supports in classrooms with diverse learners. 


Information related to peer tutoring can be found at:

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