Rollins and Rhodes Researchers Collaborate to Code Children's Narratives

July 07, 2009

rhodes.jpgTwo Rollins undergraduate researchers, Jessica Dunn (Class of 2010) and Kaitlin Reynolds (Class of 2011), participated in a workshop on coding children’s narratives at Rhodes College, June 16-17. Dunn and Reynolds joined six Rhodes students.

The workshop was led by Alice Davidson, assistant professor of psychology at Rollins; Marsha Walton, professor of psychology at Rhodes; and Alexis Harris, a doctoral student in human development and family studies at Penn State University.
Davidson’s research centers on links between children’s peer experiences and their social and academic adjustment in school. This work includes analyzing the stories that children tell about their experiences with peer conflict, and the role that narratives play in multiple aspects of children’s development.

“Children tell stories that are joyful and, sometimes, they tell heartbreaking stories,” according to Davidson. “These personal narratives allow children to organize and attach meaning to their lives and to expand upon and evaluate unexpected or noncanonical events. It is exciting to see the new insights that these undergraduate researchers bring to these stories, and we look forward to continuing this work in the fall.”

The narrative workshop activities included:

•    reading stories written by fourth, fifth and sixth graders about interpersonal conflict and noting what the narratives reveal about the children’s development and experiences;
•    agreement on procedures for coding how children talk about peers and peer relationships;
•    coding 50 stories for where and with whom children have conflicts; peer relationship status after conflicts; and conflict resolutions strategies that children use;
•    calculating inter-rater reliabilities for coding stories;
•    drafting a coding manual with clear descriptions of each category, and refining the category system.

Rollins and Rhodes college researchers will continue the collaboration in the fall as they collect children’s narratives about peer conflict in two elementary schools in Orlando and Memphis.

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