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Preschoolers' communication during scripted interactions

  • KATHERINE J. SHORT-MEYERSON (a1) and LEONARD J. ABBEDUTO (a1)

Abstract

The communicative interactions of 15 dyads of four- to five-year-olds during pretend play involving routine, or scripted, events were investigated as a function of the children's knowledge of the scripts. Measures of the quantity and quality of interaction and the strategies that the children used to establish mutual knowledge (i.e. assess and adapt to their discourse partner's level of expertise), which is essential to good communication, were examined. Each dyad participated in a MATCHED condition (both members had extensive knowledge of the script) and a MISMATCHED condition (one member had extensive script knowledge and the other did not). Shared script knowledge facilitated communicative interactions, as indicated by more topic maintenance and fewer requests for clarification in the matched condition than in the mismatched condition. The children attempted to establish mutual knowledge more frequently in the mismatched condition than in the matched condition and, moreover, mutual knowledge establishment was related to the children's communicative effectiveness.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Katherine Short-Meyerson, Waisman Center, Room 477, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.

Footnotes

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This research was supported by grant HD24356 from NICHD to L. Abbeduto and a Special Grant Award to K. Short-Meyerson from the Friends of the Waisman Center. The research is based on a thesis submitted by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The authors are grateful to Dr Robin Chapman and Dr Deborah Lowe Vandell for serving as members of the thesis committee, Dorothy Ross for assistance with data coding, and Dr Joel Levin and Dr Doris Kistler for their advice on the statistical analyses. The authors also thank Dr Glenis Benson and Joanna Dolish for their suggestions on an earlier version of this paper. In addition, the co-operation of the children, as well as their parents and their teachers, and the adults who participated in this study is gratefully acknowledged. Portions of this research were presented at the 1994 American Psychological Association Conference, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Footnotes

Preschoolers' communication during scripted interactions

  • KATHERINE J. SHORT-MEYERSON (a1) and LEONARD J. ABBEDUTO (a1)

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