Early childhood problem-solving interaction: young children’s discourse during small-group work in primary school

Frans Cornelis Hiddink


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    It is widely accepted that problem solving and reasoning during small-group work with either peers only or with intervening teachers may contribute to children’s language and cognitive development, depending on the participants’ discourse. Most research is experimental of nature, focusing on teacher-initiated problems. Therefore, in this thesis young children’s construction of their own problems during small-group work in early childhood education is investigated, through a detailed analysis of videotaped and transcribed problem-solving interactions.
    The most important findings are: (1) Whether the teacher is present partly determines young children’s discourse. In teacher’s absence children produce significantly longer and more complex turns and sentences. Moreover, they accomplish different types of speech actions than in teacher’s presence. (2) Most teacher practices minimize young children’s opportunities to participate actively in problem-solving interventions, which follow a linear structure, as often advised in problem-solving textbooks. (3) Contrastingly, young children themselves construct also iterative, non-linear problem-solving interactions highly similar to adult business meetings. (4) By adapting their speech actions to the problem type, children construct three types of problem-solving interactions, which are all concluded, contrastingly to adult business meetings. (5) Both the type of reactions to other’s contributions and the type of accounts determine how children reason: accepting reactions and directly verifiable accounts conclude the problem-solving interaction, contrasting to oppositional reactions and personal, normative and tentative accounts enhancing children’s reasoning.
    All findings demonstrate that both problem solving and reasoning of young children should not be considered as an individual cognitive accomplishment, rather as an interactional sequential accomplishment.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
    • de Glopper, Kees, Supervisor
    • Koole, A.J., Supervisor, Externe Persoon
    • Berenst, Jan, Co-supervisor
    Datum van toekenning14-nov.-2019
    Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
    Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-034-2118-6
    Elektronische ISBN's978-94-034-2117-9
    StatusPublished - 2019

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