Promoting Interpersonal Competencies and Academic Achievement through Collaborative Social Reasoning
Tzu-Jung Lin

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



The Ohio State University

Primary Discipline

Educational Psychology
Interpersonal competencies—the social-cognitive abilities to reason rationally about issues arising from social interactions, to work in harmony with peers, and to sustain healthy relationships—serve as adaptive protective factors for early adolescents to effectively cope with school transition issues that can otherwise hamper students’ academic achievement and social development. (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Kingery, Erdley, & Marshall, 2011). The need for strong peer support and relatedness has become increasingly exacerbated during early adolescence with the advent of rapid internet-based social communication networks. Failure to successfully navigate complex social networks can lead to relentless bullying, the consequences of which can result in precipitous drops in academic achievement, increased incidence of school withdrawal and development of actual clinical depression (Ladd et al., 2015). There is a critical need for a thorough understanding of early adolescents’ interpersonal competencies and for validation of instructional approaches that facilitate the development of these competencies.The focuses of this study are to examine the impact of a dialogic intervention on early adolescents’ social reasoning, interpersonal competencies, and academic achievement, and to uncover the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms of change. The central hypotheses are that the intervention, using an approach called Collaborative Social Reasoning (CSR), will lead to significant growth in social reasoning, interpersonal competencies and academic achievement; the growth in social reasoning will mediate the changes in interpersonal competencies and academic achievement for students who receive CSR. The proposed study will be conducted in 6 fifth-grade classrooms from 2 public schools. Classrooms will be assigned to one of three conditions: CSR, Active-control, Business-as-usual. CSR students will engage in several weeks of discussion based on stories about social exclusion issues. Active-control students will read the same stories using read-aloud. Results are expected to reveal positive impacts of CSR on early adolescents’ interpersonal competencies and academic achievement, and elucidate the social-cognitive mechanisms underlying CSR discussions. The outcomes are expected to have a significant and positive impact on future designs of a longitudinal social-emotional learning program or school curriculum to simultaneously foster students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development.
About Tzu-Jung Lin
Tzu-Jung Lin is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies of the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University. Prior to joining the faculty at OSU, Dr. Lin earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in the Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Lin’s primary research interests focus on uncovering the mechanisms of social and cognitive development in the complex classroom social system, and developing effective instructional approaches to cultivate an epistemically and socially supportive classroom learning environment. Dr. Lin has used microgenetic and mixed-method approaches to examine the moment-by-moment dynamics of children’s relational thinking, and the proximal influences of peer relationships and teacher scaffolding on children’s reasoning development in the context of collaborative small-group discussions. Dr. Lin’s work has appeared in research journals including Journal of Educational Psychology, Child Development, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Learning and Instruction, Educational Psychologist, Journal of Experimental Education, Psychological Science, Discourse Processes, and American Educational Research Journal.

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