Summary of Research on Benefits of Multi-age Classrooms
Professor Barbara Pavan reviewed 64 research studies on nongraded (multi-age) schools. Pavan found that 58% of those students in multi-age classes performed better than their peers on measures of academic achievement. 33% performed as well as their peers, and only 9% did worse than their peers.
Pavan also found that students in multi-age settings were more likely than their peers to have positive self-concepts, high self-esteem, and good attitudes toward school. Her review of the research also indicates that benefits to students increase the longer they are in a nongraded setting, and that "underachieving" students also benefit from being in multi-age classrooms. (This research summary can be found in the October 1992 issue of Educational Leadership, pp. 22-24.)
Parents are often concerned that older children in a multi-age setting will not benefit as much as younger children. Research shows, however, that when older students teach information and skills to their younger classmates, their academic performance, and even IQ scores, dramatically improve. The research of Arthur Whimbey (in his program T.A.P.S: Talking About Problem Solving) showed that when students were routinely given the opportunity to teach someone else, their scores on IQ assessments improved as much as eighteen points.
In another study done in the 1960s, underachieving high school students who acted as reading tutors for younger students, improved their reading scores by an equivalent of two years, in just six months' time. (From the Nov. 1994 edition of Educational Leadership, p. 58.)
Educational research indicates that students benefit both academically and emotionally from being placed in multi-age classrooms.
copyright © 2004 by Russell Yates
Below are websites that discuss the theory behind Multi-age and information for parents.
Building Support for Multi-age Education
Mixed-Age Grouping: What the Research Says, and How Can Parents Use This Information
Critical Issue: Enhancing Learning through Multi-age Grouping
This site offers sub-categories