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Session Overview
Oral Presentation IV: "Children's Initiatives in Opening Subdiscussions" 
Monday, 21/Nov/2022:
12:15pm - 12:30pm

Presenting Author: Elisa Angiolini

Location: Auditorium Olivier

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Children's Initiatives in Opening Subdiscussions  

Elisa Angiolini1, Sara Greco2, Antonio Iannaccone1, Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont1

1Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland; 2Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland


The role of argumentation in development is of growing interest (Schwarz & Baker, 2017; Bose & Hannken-Illjes, 2019). A better understanding is needed of children’s reasoning when they contribute to argumentative discussions, and of adults’ responses to their initiatives. Here we focus on children taking the initiative to open a sub-issue within an on-going discussion. 


In the continuation of previous research (Greco & al.2017 and 2018; Perret-Clermont & al., 2019; Schär & Greco, 2028; Schär, 2021), we collected a corpus of daily conversations of 3-6-year-old children in kindergarten. We identify when, how and why subdiscussions occur. We analyze them according to pragma-dialectics (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004) and the Argumentum Model of Topics (Rigotti & Greco, 2019). 


Children initiate subdiscussions for different reasons: to defend their point; to have a place in the discussion; but also, to understand the others’ viewpoints and make sense of the situation. Adults often don’t allow these subdiscussions to unfold.  

Discussion and conclusion 

Subdiscussions reveal children’s perspectives as they step out of the movement of the conversation to question it. Their potential agency in conversations is often underestimated. It is very informative to hear how much children rely on argumentation to explore (Iannaccone & al., 2019) the environment and make sense of it.  

We are becoming aware of how important it is to grant proper space to children to unfold their argumentations, and to design adequate educational settings to meet this need. This has also important consequences for interviews. 

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