The development of competency in narrative composition is acknowledged to be a complex process of central importance in the educational enterprise. Recent work suggests that growth in story knowledge is largely dependent on finding a fit among three elements: culturally influenced story schemas, children's developmental constraints, and instruction programs. The aim of this study was to examine an instruction program carried out with five 4-year-olds and designed to facilitate growth along an identified developmental pathway through socially situated cognitive scaffolding. The framework emphasized the coordination of prior knowledge with understandings gained in the instruction context. We chose a microgenetic method of analysis in order to look beyond outcomes and examine the actual process of instruction, exposing general trends in the data and providing insight into which instructional conditions lead to which specific changes in individuals' performance. The microgenetic method not only revealed the program's successes and shortcomings but also uncovered unanticipated strategies of participants, offering insight into issues related to the ways in which narrative knowledge builds. Our findings support the notion that learning does not occur in a straightforward, linear fashion but rather follows an irregular course, dropping off when, for example, task demands exceed processing capacity and surging forward when conceptually appropriate scaffolding is provided. (Psychology, Education)
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