Reading and Writing

, Volume 32, Issue 9, pp 2223–2249 | Cite as

Effects of collaborative small-group discussions on early adolescents’ social reasoning

  • Tzu-Jung LinEmail author
  • Seung Yon Ha
  • Wei-Ting Li
  • Ying-Ju Chiu
  • Yu-Ru Hong
  • Chin-Chung Tsai


This study examined the influence of small-group discussions on early adolescents’ social reasoning development. A total of 147 fifth-grade students (79 males and 68 females) from six classrooms in a public school in Taiwan participated in a pre-post control quasi-experimental study. Classrooms of students were assigned to either a 5-week collaborative social reasoning (CSR) condition or an active-control read-aloud (RA) condition. All students completed a social reasoning essay before and after the intervention. Students in the CSR condition generated more social knowledge, considered more possible solutions to the complex social-moral issue, and reflected on more cognitive perspectives of the story characters. Students in the RA condition generated more shallow interpretations and were more attuned to affective perspectives of the story characters. CSR students’ social reasoning tended to be more coherent, complex, and involve knowledge coordination. These findings lend support to the claim that CSR discussion is a productive vehicle for enhancing students’ social reasoning.


Collaborative small-group discussion Dialogic inquiry Social reasoning 



This research was supported by Chiang Chin-Kuo Foundation and the Institute for Research Excellence in Learning Sciences of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) from The Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent views of the foundation. We would like to thank the research team and the many administrators, teachers, and children without whom this study would not have been possible.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational StudiesOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and EducationNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Applied Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Program of Learning Sciences and Institute for Research Excellence in Learning SciencesNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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