Developing 5-6 Year olds’ Social Competence using Concept Cartoons: A Neurocognitive Approach
Effective social skills training in schools primarily focuses on teachers having training or researchers implementing the selected programme (Bianco & Leece, 2016; Ratkalkar et al., 2017), potentially disrupting the academic curriculum due to inconsistent teaching styles (Uibu & Kikas, 2012). The present study utilises Concept Cartoons in Year 1 primary Science lessons, delivered by the classroom teacher, with no training, to develop social competence in 5-6-year-old children within a low-socioeconomic status school. This study utilises and synthesises pedagogical theory and neurocognitive evidence to establish a neurocognitive network which describes peer-peer interaction who engages within argumentation, leading to cognitive conflict. Two Year 1 teachers and 56 children took part in a quasi-experimental pre-test-post-test mixed methods design. Both teachers were interviewed at pre-test and the experimental teaching participant was interviewed at post-test. All 56 children were rated on the Social Competence Rating Questionnaire (SCRQ; Liddle & Nettle, 2006) at pre-test and post-test. Sensitivity and control elements of social competence were found to be significant in favour the experimental group at post-test along with an improvement among all means. Findings also revealed teachers need no training with Concept Cartoons to effectively develop social competence in 5-6-year-olds as well as a strong development of SEN pupil engagement. Future research would benefit the exploration of Concept Cartoon use and Theory of Mind (ToM) development and the effects of Concept Cartoons on children with SEN.