The performance of eight- to ten-year-olds on measures of conversational skilfulness

Debra Schober-Peterson, Cynthia J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At present, limited data concerning the conversational skilfulness of school-age children have been available. The purpose of this paper is to describe the topical structure and content of conversations produced by 8- to 10-year-old children during casual interaction with peers. Data were also collected to determine whether dyads with academically low-achieving children differed from dyads with normally achieving children in their conversational performance. Thirty children participated in the study. Dyads were videotaped in a 20-minute conversational task. Videotapes were transcribed and coded for five measures of topic: total number of topics, number of topic progressions, proportion of topics within progression, mean length of progression, and proportion of task-related topics. Statistical comparisons were performed to determine differences among dyads. No statistically significant differences were found among the groups of children for any of the measures examined. Findings suggest that 8- to 10-year-old children have knowledge of rules for establishing conversational relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-269
Number of pages21
JournalFirst Language
Issue number38
StatePublished - Jun 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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