Antecedents and consequences of verbal disagreements during small-group learning

Janet A. Lindow, Louise Cherry Wilkinson, Penelope L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Controversy, an aspect of small-group interactions, was investigated in 10 mixed-ability, mixed-sex, elementary math groups through analysis of dissension episodes. A dissension episode was defined as the interaction that followed a verbal assertion of disagreement about a math answer. Episodes were identified from 32 videotapes of small-group seatwork during a 2-week unit on time and money. Preserving the group as the unit of analysis, we examined the relation of ability and sex with four dissension variables: initiation, participation, demonstrations, and prevailing answers. The four process variables were then related to two outcome measures: adjusted achievement and peer nominations of competence. Results showed that boys and higher ability students had significantly more prevailing answers and demonstrations. Participation, demonstration, and prevailing answers were positively related to peer competence nominations. Prevailing answer was also positively related to adjusted achievement. Suggestions are made for practical and continued research uses of small groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-667
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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