Conversational skills training with elementary school children: Effectiveness of instruction/rationale and guided practice.
AdvisorKnight, George P.
Rosser, Rosemary A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPeer relationship plays an important role in the social development of elementary school children. Children who experience interpersonal difficulties are at high risk of adjustment problems in later adolescence and adulthood. Research evidence suggests that these children can benefit from a social skills training program. It is suggested that the training component of instruction/rationale and guided practice in a coaching program serve different functions, respectively, of enhancing social knowledge and of promoting skill performance. The present study evaluates the relative effectiveness of these components on knowledge of conversational skills, conversational skill performance, verbal interaction with peers, peer acceptance, and feeling of loneliness of target children. Thirty-six 3rd- to 5th-grade children who were identified as at least mildly rejected or neglected by their peers and deficient in specific conversational skills were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) instruction/rationale, (2) guided practice, and (3) control. Children in the instruction/rationale condition temporarily increased their skill knowledge, whereas children in the guided practice and control conditions showed no change. Children in the guided practice condition showed a lasting improvement in their conversational skill performance. Both skill training groups showed a delayed increase in their frequency of verbal interaction with peers, whereas children in control group showed no change. Neither control nor skill-trained children changed significantly on sociometric and loneliness measures at both posttest and follow-up. Results are interpreted in terms of a cognitive-social learning viewpoint.