Instructional conversations with preschool children

Chapman de Sousa, Elizabeth Brook
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2013]
Although challenging to enact well, conversations between preschool educators and small groups of children have been found to facilitate language development and cognitive growth. This study investigated behaviors that preschool teachers used to promote children's participation in a strategy called "Instructional Conversation," reciprocal discussions between a teacher and small group of children that are centered on a learning goal. The study also investigated the relationship between outcome measures of children's expressive and receptive English vocabulary and their teachers' enactment of Instructional Conversation. Nine educators were video recorded while conducting an Instructional Conversation with children, ages 2-5, in their preschool classrooms. Educators in the video recordings were also interviewed to gain their perspective on how they encouraged the children to engage in the conversations. Two analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted using teachers' level of enactment of IC, gender and children's status as a dual language learner as independent variables, and children's receptive and expressive vocabulary and age as covariates. The findings from the ANCOVA analyses indicated a relationship between dual language learners' and girls' language development and teachers' high enactment of IC. Using discourse analysis, the video recordings of the highest scoring Instructional Conversations were also analyzed for patterns of teacher actions that promoted child participation, and the interview transcripts were analyzed using other qualitative analytic methods. These analyses suggested that the teachers promoted children's participation by (a) creating a context, or environmental conditions to promote conversation, (b) responsiveness, (c) using multimodal resources, and (d) questioning.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
adult-child interactions, sociocultural theory, preschool instruction
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