Grouping for Social Skills Instruction & Activities

The debate goes on…. Is is better to group students heterogeneously or homogeneously for social skills instruction/activities? Many time I speak with parents and teacher that feel it is better to group students with role models so that they can observe and imitate appropriate behavior (heterogeneous). Others such as Gutstein (RDI) point to research that indicates homogeneous grouping allows students to develop socially because a more capable peer is not ‘carrying the relationship.

I would contend that from an ABA perspective, it is the wrong question all together. Instead, we need to ask a series of questions: What behavior or skill set are we working to develop? What is the student’s baseline? (How well and under what conditions are we seeing this behavior or skill set already?) What is the next step in teaching this behavior? Then finally, under what conditions/antecedents can I best elicit, support and reinforce the behavior? How can I achieve this in the least restrictive environment?

This is another example of using ABA as a principal that guides decision making and instruction in social skills intervention. The answer heterogeneous or homogeneous will arise from assessing the student’s present levels of performance, goals and anlysis of the task or behavior. Once again it comes down to the process!