Université Paris Descartes-CNRS (FRANCE)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5517-5527
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
It's becoming more and more apparent that narrative skills, implying both overall coherence of the story and adequate discourse means to communicate them (cohesion), are related to cognitive skills (Britsch, 1992: 23; Nicolopoulou, Scales & Weintramb, 1994: 103), to acquisitions in literatie (Dickinson et al., 2003; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998) and ultimately to overall school success (Ong, 1982; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998).

Studies of child-managed narrative productions based on the presentation of images, show 4-5 year old children can produce descriptive narratives, but it is only by 8-9 years that children explain events and the behaviors of characters, in particular if the explanations need to make reference to intentional or epistemic states. In order to foster children's capacities in general, and skills necessary to school achievement, as it is the case of literatie skills, we have devised some intervention procedures whose aim is to bring children to produce more coherent and complex mind-oriented narratives.

To this effect, 60 children, 30 girls and 30 boys, aged between 6;0 and 7;8 years, were presented with a sequence of five wordless pictures (the “stone story”) based on a misunderstanding among two characters. All children were first requested to tell the experimenter the story they understood after the set of pictures was presented sequentially (first narrative). Then, the children were assigned blindly to one of three conditions:

1) "Conversation on causes" (ConCau) (29 children) focusing children's attention on the causal explanations of the sro< events and the behaviors of the characters; 2) "Story Model" (Mod) (21 children) by which the experimenter narrated a coherent and well constructed story to the child and 3) "Control" (Con) (10 children) where the children participated in a game with the story pictures and other similar pictures. In all conditions, children were asked to narrate once again the story (second narrative). One week later a third narrative of the Stone story was collected from the same children who also narrated a story based on a set of pictures constructed similarly (generalization narrative).

Results show that after the ConCau and Mod conditions the overall coherence of the stories narrated by the children increase. They express more explanations of events, make greater reference to the internal states of the characters and are more numerous to express the charaters' different points of view ascribing to one of them a state of false belief. The positive effects obtained immediately are maintained one week later and the "generalization" story is closer in these respects to the second and third narratives then to the first narrative of the Stone story. No significant differences are found between the ConCau and the Mod intervention procedures. However, the answers provided by the children during the ConCau intervention procedure do not predict the explanations found in their subsequent narratives.

These findings support a multidimensional account of learning fed by socially and individually-driven Moreover, they point to the usefulness of using intervention procedures to improve children's skills and to the necessity of using multiple means to evaluate children's competences.
narrative skills, intervention procedures, short and long term effects.