Popular, rejected, neglected, controversial or average: Do young children of different sociometric groups differ in their level of oral communicative competence?

Social Development | Femke van der Wilt, Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

Children’s sociometric status refers to their position within the peer group and plays a major role in their future social development. It is therefore important to investigate factors that are related to it. To date, little attention has been paid to the potential role of oral communicative competence. The present study investigated sociometric group differences in the level of oral communicative competence in a sample of N = 570 children in early childhood education. Sociometric status was measured using a nomination procedure. Based on peer nominations, children were categorized into five sociometric groups: (1) popular (generally well‐liked), (2) rejected (generally disliked), (3) neglected (low visibility and neither liked nor disliked), (4) controversial (high visibility and both liked and disliked), and (5) average (at or about the mean on both likability and visibility). Children’s level of oral communicative competence was assessed with the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics. Results of multi‐level analyses revealed significant sociometric group differences: children who were rejected or neglected by their peers exhibited lower levels of oral communicative competence than average children. Based on these findings, teachers in early childhood education are encouraged to pay more explicit attention to the promotion of their pupils’ oral communicative competence.

Why can’t I join? Peer rejection in early childhood education and the role of oral communicative competence

Contemporary Educational Psychology | Femke van der Wilt, Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

The present study investigated the relation between oral communicative competence and peer rejection in early childhood education, as well as gender differences in this relation. Participants were N = 447 children aged 4–6 years. Children’s level of oral communicative competence was measured using the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics and a sociometric method with peer nominations was used to assess their level of peer rejection. Regression analyses revealed that, after controlling for gender, age, and SES, oral communicative competence accounted for unique variance in peer rejection and was negatively related to the extent to which children were rejected by peers: children with poorer oral communicative competence experienced higher levels of peer rejection. No gender differences in this relation were found. Future research demonstrating the causal effect of oral communicative competence on peer rejection can provide early childhood education teachers who try to prevent or reduce peer rejection a strong argument to focus on the promotion of children’s oral communicative competence.

The tacit dimension of parental mediation

Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace | Claudia van Kruistum, Roel van Steensel

Studies into the way parents mediate their children’s (digital) media use are challenging. A reason for this is that parents are not always aware of what they do and why, as their choices do not necessarily involve rational decision-making. In the present study we adopted the notion of “tacit knowledge” (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Polanyi, 1966) to explore how and why parents of young children mediate digital media use. In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 Dutch parents from 15 families who were selected to represent a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and different family compositions. Through qualitative analysis we first distinguished three mediation styles of “regulation”, “guidance” and “space”. Furthermore, we revealed seven values that drive parental mediation: three core values of “balance”, “freedom” and “protection” that are foundational in the sense that they explain why parents mediate; three orientational values of “qualification”, “Bildung” and “health/fitness” that explain to which end parents mediate; and one additional value of “flexibility” that accounts for parents’ exception-making. Finally, we showed that the most important emotions associated with these values were anger and disapproval (with balance and protection) and love and joy (with orientational values); fear was mentioned occasionally (in relation to protection).

MODEL2TALK: An intervention to promote productive classroom talk

The Reading Teacher | Chiel van der Veen, Femke van der Wilt, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers, Sarah Michaels

This article describes an intervention – the MODEL2TALK intervention – that aims to promote young children’s oral communicative competence through productive classroom talk. Productive classroom talk provides children in early childhood education with many opportunities to talk and think together. Results from a large-scale study show that productive classroom talk has a positive effect on young children’s oral language abilities. This is of great importance, as good oral communicative competence is related to later reading comprehension skills and social acceptance, and mediates learning, thinking, and self-regulation. How to promote productive talk in your classroom? Start by giving children more space to share their ideas, listen to one another, reason, think together, and reflect on their communicative performance. The examples in this article support teachers to adopt productive talk and move towards a classroom culture in which children think and communicate together.

Teachers and Facebook: Using online groups to improve students’ communication and engagement

Communication Teacher | Fernando da Cunha Júnior, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

This paper reports on how teachers, from different cities in Brazil, used groups on Facebook and how communication between teachers and students was affected by using such groups. This study is framed under the Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) perspective, and is conceived from a methodological background that invites participants to collaborate during the research. We examined posts from the groups on Facebook from February/2013 to June/2014 by a qualitative approach, including some quantification of part of the data, and analysed responses to a questionnaire for teachers by the end of the research. Our findings suggest the teachers used the groups for different purposes, which lead to an improvement in communication between teachers and students – online and in-classroom – and in students’ engagement in the classrooms.

The effect of productive classroom talk and metacommunication on young children’s oral communicative competence and subject matter knowledge: An intervention study in early childhood education

Learning and Instruction | Chiel van der Veen, Langha de Mey, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of productive classroom talk and metacommunication on the development of young children’s oral communicative competence and subject matter knowledge. This study can be characterized as a quasi-experimental study with a pre-test-intervention-post-test design. A total of 21 teachers and 469 children participated in this study. 12 teachers were assigned to the intervention condition and participated in a Professional Development Program on productive classroom dialogue. Multilevel analyses of children’s oral communicative competence pre- and post-test scores indicated that our intervention had a significant and moderate to large effect on the development of young children’s oral communicative competence. No significant effects were found for children’s subject matter knowledge. The results of this study suggest that dialogically organized classroom talk is more beneficial than non-dialogical classroom talk for the development of children’s oral language skills.

Productive classroom dialogue as an activity of shared thinking and communicating: A commentary on Marsal

Mind, Culture, and Activity: An International Journal | Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Sarah Michaels

In Eva Marsal’s article, a model is presented that teaches children to philosophize by acquiring a set of skills in step-by-step exercises. In the classroom examples that Marsal provides, however, it remains unclear how teachers support the kinds of thinking and philosophizing that her Five Finger Model aims to promote. This is why, in response to Eva Marsal’s article, we argue that productive classroom dialogue can be seen as a complementary approach that supports teachers in bringing dialogue into their classrooms. As its aim is to promote children’s “meaningful learning and cultural development in an emancipatory way” (van Oers, 2012a, p. 59), it enables them to do more than appropriate or reconstruct conventional cultural meanings. Through productive classroom dialogue, children learn how to collaboratively progress in communicating, thinking, and understanding. As such, we believe it to be a suitable context for philosophizing with children that goes beyond step-by-step exercises. In this commentary, we subsequently elaborate the notion of productive classroom dialogue and discuss how it interanimates with Marsal’s Five Finger Model.

Gender differences in the relationship between oral communicative competence and peer rejection: An explorative study in preschool

European Early Childhood Education Research Journal | Femke van der Wilt, Claudia van Kruistum, Chiel van der Veen, Bert van Oers

This study investigated gender differences in the relationship between oral communicative competence and peer rejection in early childhood education. It was hypothesized that children with poorer oral communicative competence would be rejected by their peers more frequently and that the strength of this relationship would differ for boys and girls. A sample of N = 54 children was tested on the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics (NPT) to measure their oral communicative competence, defined as their ability to use language appropriately in a particular situation. Further, a sociometric method was used to measure the level of peer rejection and peer acceptance. No relationship was found between oral communicative competence and peer rejection. However, a positive relationship was observed between oral communicative competence and peer acceptance. Interestingly, this relationship only applied to boys. It is suggested that early childhood education teachers trying to enhance peer acceptance should take the promotion of oral communicative competence into account.

Youth media lifestyles

Human Communication Research | Full-text | Claudia van Kruistum, Paul Leseman, Mariëtte de Haan

In this article, the concept of “media lifestyles” is adopted in order to develop a comprehensive approach toward youth engagement in communication media. We explore how 503 Dutch eighth grade students with full access to new technology combine a broad range of media by focusing on their engagement with media while taking various contexts of use into account. Four different media lifestyles of media omnivores, networkers, gamers, and low-frequency users are described. Furthermore, we show how the methodology we used is able to provide more insight into how the distinguished media lifestyles were codetermined by particular media, functions and social contexts. Finally, the implications for the Uses & Gratifications theory are discussed.

Gender differences in adolescents’ out-of-school literacy practices: A multifaceted approach

Computers & Education | Full-text | Asli Ünlüsoy, Mariëtte de Haan, Paul Leseman, Claudia van Kruistum

The present study examined the out-of-school literacy activities of 70 students in 7th grade of prevocational training schools in the Netherlands. Guttmann’s Facet Theory was applied to study literacy as a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. With the increasing influence of digital technologies, the facet design approach was found especially suited to track the many changes occurring in presentation modalities, functions, and productive versus consumptive uses of literacy. The study shows that the facet approach was useful in pinpointing how these shifts in literacy engagement turn out differently for boys and girls. Based on self-reports via an Internet questionnaire, the study shows that girls outscored boys in every aspect of literacy, including computer and Internet based literacy practices. However, while among girls a more balanced profile was found regarding the engagement in traditional and new literacy practices, the boys reported a high preference for the new digital media. Moreover, we found that girls, compared to boys, used new literacy activities more often for educational purposes. The findings suggest that, given this more balanced profile, girls, compared to boys, are less at risk of losing touch with traditional print-based educational literacy in school.