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Title:Understanding children’s causal reasoning during collaborative discussions
Author(s):Ma, Shufeng
Director of Research:Anderson, Richard C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, Richard C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hummel, John E.; Cromley, Jennifer; Mercier, Emma
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Multilink causal reasoning
Collaborative reasoning discussion
Peer influence
Statistical discourse analysis
Abstract:This study aims to understand the construction of multilink causal reasoning chains during collaborative discussions in elementary school classrooms. The construction of reasoning chains was investigated in 24 collaborative discussions involving 160 underserved fifth-grade children. The effects of group features, individual characteristics, and moment-by-moment situational influences on seven causal chain models were tracked in the discussions. Results indicated that students who were more talkative, had better oral English, and were more liked by their classmates were more likely to produce causal chains. The turn-by-turn analysis of chain construction revealed that once a causal chain was initiated, it was likely to continue for at least three speaking turns. Leaders and socially centered students supported other group members, the shy and quiet students, to extend chains of reasoning. Agreement among group members and support from leaders and socially centered students extended the chain of reasoning. However, refutation and disagreement stopped the chain because the group had to resolve disputed ideas in order to develop a shared understanding. A temporal analysis of chain production indicated that chain construction speeds up over the course of a discussion. Students who produced more causal chains during the discussion also generated more causal chains in an individually written essay after the discussion. A causal analysis showed that peer dialogue mediates the effects of social and cognitive characteristics on chain production in the essay and the mediating effect increases with increases in the number of peer-generated causal chains during the discussions. Overall, this analysis of the social construction of multilink causal reasoning chains provides distinctive new evidence that enabling meaningful interaction among children promotes their higher-level cognitive development.
Issue Date:2017-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Shufeng Ma
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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