F. Anello

University of Palermo (ITALY)
The aim of this work is to verify the efficacy of a training programme focused on the enhancement of oral expressiveness (the generation of ideas and planning, pragmatic awareness), realized with a group of children between 10 and 12 years, in the last year of primary school and in the first year of secondary school in the Palermo area.

The educational activities were conducted from January to June 2014. Action learning provided a learning environment based on real problem solving with team work; the active search for information, discussion and reflection, as well as decision-making, were assisted by semantic networks (concept maps) and knowledge construction tools. Oral presentation, or personal oral exposition, was an authentic learning task: this strategy was effective because it stimulated team work and encouraged material sharing and elaboration.

The investigation was realized with two different almost-experimental designs: a single recurrent group with an interrupted time series and with a control group with similar characteristics. Data collection was carried out through observation tools, some already validated and others created ad hoc.

Pre- and post-test performances were compared in the same group of children who participated in the enhancement activities by use of mindtools. It was found that activities created in order to increase the skills of convergent, divergent and critical thinking improved the children’s oral expressiveness, much more than in the control group, which did not use knowledge organization and construction tools mediated by computers.

Pragmatic awareness, practised in a communicative situation in which pupil spoke in front of real recipients, also improved. Speaking to an audience requires preparation of a clear speech, a convincing and understandable presentation, appropriate delivery according to the purpose and context; the tools of organizing and presenting is to be essential.