报告主题：Children’s Causal Reasoning during Collaborative Discussions
This study aims to understand the construction of multi-link causal reasoning chains during collaborative discussions in elementary school classrooms. Multi-link causal reasoning refers to the ability to organize incoming information and bridge inferences into coherent causal chains. This skill is critical to understanding problem solving, decision making, and how new knowledge is acquired. The construction of multi-link causal reasoning chains was investigated in 24 collaborative discussions involving 160 underserved fifth-grade children. The effects of group features, individual characteristics, and moment-by-moment situational influences on seven causal chain models were tracked in the discussions. Early results indicate that students who were more talkative, had better oral English, and were more liked by their classmates were more likely to produce causal chains. Leaders and socially centered students supported other group members, the shy and quiet students, to extend chains of reasoning. The turn-by-turn analysis of chain construction revealed that once a causal chain was started, it was likely to continue for at least three speaking turns. The agreement among group members and support from leaders and socially centered students extended the chain of reasoning. However, refutation and disagreement stopped the chain because the group had to resolve disputed ideas in order to develop a shared cognition. Students’ or teacher’s redirection of topic served as resetting mechanism for the chaining process. Once the topic was reset by a student or by the teacher, it was more likely for the current speaker to start a causal chain. A temporal analysis of chain production indicates that, starting with the second chain, each successive chain took less and less time to generate. This finding suggests that conceptual relationships, and words to express these relationships, become more accessible and widely available to group members over the course of a discussion. Overall, this analysis of the social construction of multi-link causal reasoning during children’s collaborative discussions provides distinctive new evidence that enabling meaningful interaction among children promotes their higher-level cognitive skills.
马淑风博士目前在美国伊利诺伊大学香槟分校攻读教育系理学博士学位，师从儿童阅读领域著名学者Richard Anderson教授，她的主要研究方向是小组合作学习对于儿童认知能力和语言能力的影响，特别是以链条式推理为代表的儿童高级思维能力的发展以及儿童在自由表达状态下使用学术词汇的能力。她的研究以课堂干预(classroom intervention)为基础，探寻影响儿童高级思维能力的认知与社交因素，旨在构建以小组合作为基础的学习环境，从而提高学生的语言水平、思维能力、学习动机，以及社交合作能力。她目前以第一作者或者共同作者在Learning and Instruction, Discourse Processes, American Educational Research Journal, 以及Text and Talk发表多篇文章。与此同时她也致力于在中国乡村地区推广阅读活动，发起并参与了在内蒙古及湖南的乡村小学参与建立儿童图书室的项目，旨在促进乡村儿童阅读习惯的养成和阅读能力的提高等。