Peer Interaction, Cognition And Argumentative Writing (Key Stage 2 Children)

Gélat, Mona (2001). Peer Interaction, Cognition And Argumentative Writing (Key Stage 2 Children). EdD thesis The Open University.



Argumentative writing, which has become a National Curriculum requirement, is recognised to be a cognitively taxing undertaking at Key Stage 2 This dissertation describes an experiment using a multiple research approach to investigate 10-year-olds in peer groups of three, interacting in preparation for a written argument. This situation was hypothesised to foster logical reasoning which could affect writing quality. The study contrasts the peer support strategy with the pervasive teacher direct instruction of composition writing, It also investigates the effects of each of the two conditions on the written task. Both experimentals and controls, each 33 in number, were selected to be quasi-equal in written, verbal and general abilities.

Direct observations and talk transcripts show that the experimental participants used sustained deductive utterances and modelled the written argumentative structure verbally during their interactions. The teacher-led strategy, however, was constraining and hindered extended speech and logical reasoning. The peer learning and assistance process is explained in terms of both Vygotskian and Piagetian social constructivist perspectives.

The subsequent written scripts were close-read, compared and evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively in terms of (a) stating and instantiating viewpoints, (b) sequencing and coherence and (c) processing content material. The reasoning at micro-level within the clauses was quantified. Findings indicate that the experimentals significantly excelled the controls’ performance in both adjustment to argument form and the internal reasoning. It suggested that implementing the strategy at Key Stage 2 can be facilitating, particularly in large sized classes.

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