Improving Children’s Competence as Decision Makers: Contrasting Effects of Collaborative Interaction and Direct Instruction

Xin Zhang, Richard C. Anderson, Joshua Morris, Brian Miller, Kim Thi Nguyen-Jahiel, Tzu Jung Lin, Jie Zhang, May Jadallah, Theresa Scott, Jingjing Sun, Beata Latawiec, Shufeng Ma, Kay Grabow, Judy Yu Li Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research examined the influence of contrasting instructional approaches on children’s decision-making competence. A total of 764 fifth graders, mostly African Americans and Hispanic Americans, from 36 classrooms in eight public schools serving children from low-income families completed a six-week unit on wolf management, using either direct instruction or collaborative groups, or were waited-listed controls. Analysis of children’s essays on a topic unrelated to wolves revealed that students who participated in collaborative groups but not students who received direct instruction acquired decision-making strategies and transferred them to the novel task. Students in collaborative group work classrooms wrote essays that were significantly better than essays of students from direct instruction classrooms in each of the three aspects of decision making that were evaluated—considering more than one side of a dilemma, comprehensiveness of reasons, and weighing the importance of reasons. In contrast, direct instruction students performed no better than uninstructed control students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-223
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Volume53
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • argumentation
  • collaborative reasoning
  • decision making
  • direct instruction

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