The structures of peer participation in shared activity
This chapter explores the ways by which children co-ordinate their activities in the carrying out of a shared task. It finds through examination of children's interactions, their patterns of participation in task events. The chapter suggests that the reciprocal effects of participants' contributions are the outcomes of their strategic activity as communicators learned from experience over the early years. It focuses on the patterning of participation in the various participant arrangements within which children conduct their communicative activity. Generally speaking, children's active participation in interaction with their world underlies their acquisition of communicative competence. The chapter looks at some outcomes of research that examined the ways pre-school children shared their spontaneous activities in situations with different types of partners. It reports studies of 6-year-old children's participatory activities in task-structured conditions with peer and adult partners. The chapter shows that children formed part of two kinds of dyadic structures, first an asymmetrical one and next, a symmetrical one.