An exploration of developmental reciprocal communication in the dialogue journals of third graders
Dialogue journal writing is a form of reciprocal communication in which pupils and teachers inform, and react to the entries of, the partner in a nonevaluative, familiar dialogue. Journals were analyzed in terms of three dependent variables: detail, response complexity, and reference.
To study the relationship of journal writing to other characteristics, three independent variables were assessed-- audience awareness, by an adaptation of Braig's (1984) audience awareness categories; social cognition, by Miller, Kessel & Flavell's (1970) assessment of social cognitive development; and writing ability, by an evaluation developed by McCaig (1984).
Entries from the dialogue journals of 21 3rd grade students were rated at 3 times--10 consecutive from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Questions asked were:
- Do dialogue journals have separate, unique elements, or do they have a single domain?
- Is there a relationship between the dependent and independent measures?
- Does skill increase over time for the dependent variables?
- What is the effect of gender, use of English as a second language, or minority status over time for each of the dependent variables?
Spearman rho correlations addressed the first and second questions. Stepwise regression analyses was also completed. Question three was investigated using repeated measures ANOVA. Repeated measures first order interactions and between-subjects differences on dialogue journal scales were used to answer the fourth question.
Results of this study indicate that at there are at least three relatively independent components for dialogue journal writing with a large proportion of the variance in detail related to audience awareness and social cognition, and somewhat less to writing ability. There were significant time effects for response complexity and reference. Detail increased, but not significantly. There were no significant first order interactions with time for any of the three demographic variables. However, between-subject differences on dialogue journal scales suggest directions for further study of group and individual differences in dialogue journal writing as reciprocal communication.