Intergenerational Communication Effectiveness Training in a Preschool Classroom

Mallory Schroeder

Abstract


As part of a UWW outreach grant, the Bridging the Intergenerational Gap Program was formed to create opportunities for older adults to interact with young children during shared activities.  As a part of the larger project, the current study evaluated whether a mini lesson (activities and simulations) with 4 year olds reduced the number of communication breakdowns that occurred between older adults and young children and improved their use of repair strategies to strengthen communication. In the first phase, a small group discussion with the older adults catalogued challenges with intergenerational communication and identified any strategies currently utilized to prevent or repair communication breakdowns.  The breakdowns and strategies from this discussion served as a guide for the communication training lesson plan. The training culminated in a twenty-minute lesson with the young children and the study team reviewing breakdowns and strategies through age appropriate activities. The older adults joined the lesson at the end for an additional ten minutes to reinforce the learning that the study team facilitated. Following the training, the older adults and young children split into their intergenerational activity groups. The older adults and young children were observed in the preschool classroom during their intergenerational activities before and after the training. During the observations, the study team documented the type and number of breakdowns and repair strategies used. After each observed intergenerational activity, the older adults completed a survey evaluating their communication experience and any breakdowns and repairs that they noticed the children using.  After the lesson was implemented, the number of communication breakdowns decreased within both study groups suggesting that addressing communication barriers through interactive instruction increased communication effectiveness, reduced frustration, and facilitated stronger relationships. Results from the current study have the potential to inform future design of intergenerational programming.


Keywords


Intergenerational programming, Communication training, Education, Aural Rehabilitation

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