Rhodes and Rollins College Researchers Code Children’s Narratives


Publication Date: 6/17/2009

Eight undergraduate researchers from Rhodes College and Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., are participating in a workshop on coding children’s narratives June 16-17.

They are Rhodes students Laura Atkinson, Sheena McKinney, Stephanie Parazak, Perry Person, Brittany Signorelli and Rachel Trout. Jessica Dunn and Kaitlin Reynolds are from Rollins College.

The three workshop leaders are Dr. Marsha Walton, professor of psychology at Rhodes; Alice Davidson, a Rhodes alumna who is now an assistant professor at Rollins; and Alexis Harris, another Rhodes alumna who is working on a doctorate in child and family studies at Penn State.
Walton’s recent research has centered on the stories children tell about their lives and the roles that narratives play in various aspects of children’s development, including moral and social development and the sense of self.

“Some of our children tell hilarious stories; some tell heartbreaking stories.  All of them give us just a little glimpse of the world through the eyes of a child,” according to Walton. “We’ve been admiring these stories for a few years now, and we’re really eager to see what new insights are born.”

This week’s workshop activities include:

  • reading stories written by fourth, fifth and sixth graders about interpersonal conflict and noting what the narratives reveal about the children’s development and experiences;
  • a group discussion about descriptive/exploratory science and data-driven  research;
  • agreement on procedures for coding how children talk about peers and peer relationships;
  • coding 50 stories;
  • drafting a coding manual with clear descriptions of each category;
  • refining the category system, instructions and training

At the end of the workshop, researchers will assess ideas learned and make a list of what they might do better or differently if they had more time.