SCAFFOLDING CHILDREN'S COGNITIVE GROWTH USING THE STORIES GROUP INTERACTION
Buell, Samantha Sedlik
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A 15-session story-guided group intervention (STORIES) was implemented during a school lunch hour for six fourth grade students (N=6) referred for social-emotional and academic needs. Two transcript coding systems, the Group Leader Intervention System (GLIS) and Child Verbalization Codes (CVC) were used to assess both leader interventions and child cognition within the group through the coding of session transcripts. Patterns of reciprocal group dynamics were studied with a focus on various leader scaffolding techniques aimed at improving child cognitive understanding and functioning within the group setting. These patterns were examined across group phases (eating lunch and working with books), various group activities, and time. Results indicate that several leader interventions were related to higher child cognitive levels. Higher child scores followed verbalizations where the leader modeled responses, provided structure, and asked specific questions. The leader's behavior also varied following child verbalizations at different levels in terms of type and tone of intervention. Mean child cognitive responses indicated low levels of understanding and difficulty processing emotions or expressing empathy. Performance varied greatly by participant in terms of both frequency and quality of participation. Improvements in cognition were not seen over time, but certain activities were linked with better performance. Across group components, the use of more highly scaffolded questions by the leader reduced lower level responses from child participants. The highest level child cognitive responses were rare for this group and were linked with more open-ended questions from the group leader. Results are discussed in terms of the relevance for school-based group interventions, the practicality of implementing interventions during lunchtime, and the use of scaffolding techniques in work with children of varying ability levels.