Urban Middle-Elementary Students' Perceptions of Grouping Formats for Reading Instruction

Batya E. Elbaum, Jeanne Shay Schumm, Sharon Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary school students' perceptions of grouping formats for reading instruction. Participants were 549 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade urban, mostly minority students, including 23 students with learning disabilities (LD), in 3 schools in a large southeastern district. Students' perceptions were assessed by means of a questionnaire that included both closed- and open-ended items. Results revealed no grade or gender differences. Students reported that whole-class instruction and working alone were used more frequently than group or pair instruction; some students reported that they had no experience with certain grouping formats, particularly pairs, in their current reading class. Students at all levels of reading ability liked mixed-ability groups and mixed-ability pairs most, followed by whole-class instruction. Same-ability groups and working alone were the least liked grouping formats. Students perceived that in mixed-ability groups students get more help from classmates, work more cooperatively, and make more progress in reading than in same-ability groups. Same-ability groups were perceived to be desirable only for nonreaders. The implications for classroom practice are discussed with an emphasis on general education classrooms that include students with LD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)x2-500
JournalElementary School Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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