Willingness to persist
An alternative view of avoidance behaviors during shared reading
Keywords:literacy, interaction, motivation, avoidance, strategy
Purpose: This qualitative investigation studied children with language disorders engaged in remediation for literacy impairment. Specifically, we studied behavioral interactions between the speech-language pathology students and children when providing literacy intervention. Based on the study results, this article proposes a positive, strengths-based view of avoidance behaviors that re-frames avoidance behaviors used by children as compared to a traditional, deficit-based view.
Method: Qualitative methods were employed; specifically, interactional analysis, a process derived from conversation analysis, was employed to analyze video transcripts of children engaged in remediation of literacy impairment.
Results and conclusions: This study revealed six types of avoidance behaviors signaling a willingness to persist rather than a desire to quit. These avoidance behaviors include shadowing, delaying, making sound effects, producing related comments, and producing unrelated comments or questions. These behaviors indicate that these children remained engaged in the therapeutic contract, even though they avoided reading. This research indicates a shift in therapeutic perspective. We should view avoidance behaviors not as negative behavior to suppress, but rather as a sign of willingness to persist in the activity. In addition, these findings suggest that avoidance behaviors are signals for increased therapeutic support and shifts in instructional direction. The results suggest that even potentially problematic behaviors, if focused on engaging in the social action at hand, are a sign of motivation to read.
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