We assumed a medium effect size of the intervention, a small intraclass correlation, and we determined that each group should consist of seven children because this group size seemed to be appropriate for implementing the literature-based intervention. According to power tables, 15 intervention groups of seven children each were needed Barcikowski, Thus, intervention group children 65 female; 30 7-year-olds, 50 8-year-olds, 24 9-year-olds and control group children 62 female; 31 7-year-olds, 55 8-year-olds, 18 9-year-olds completed emotional competences tests before the intervention t1.
Therefore, we conducted a logistic regression to analyze whether systematic dropouts existed in terms of sex, age, language, and emotional competence variables. The present study assessed emotional and language competence as well as text analysis capability as follows:. Emotional competence variables, which we expected to change due to the intervention emotional vocabulary, identification of masked feelings, explicit emotional knowledge, ability to discover mixed feelings , were assessed prior to t1 and after the intervention t2 with the help of a board game that was specifically developed for this purpose.
In order to control language proficiency, multiple facets of language competence were measured at t1. Research assistants conducted direct assessments with children in the control group and intervention group in quiet locations at the after-school childcare centers. In addition, the text analysis capability of the children concerning different emotional aspects performed only once at t2 was measured in the framework of a group test.
Using a new text, the children were supposed to complete a reading exercise and apply the knowledge they had obtained throughout the course of the literature-based intervention.
This emotion-in-text-task comprised the last session of the emotion-centered literary program. Control children also completed this task, and this assessment was carried out as a paper-and-pencil version suitable for group testing. The children worked independently on the emotion-in-text-task with limited response time.
The laboratory of feelings is a board game consisting of five rooms drawn on the board through which the child must lead the figure of a Martian who does not know what emotions are.
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In each room the child has to solve a riddle or to answer questions about emotions in order to help the Martian understand the concept of emotions. This board game allowed the assessment of the following areas of emotional competence:. After being asked Please name all of the different feelings you can think of , children should list all the feelings they could think of see also Kusche et al.
Children received one point for each correctly stated feeling but none for an incorrect response e. The target variable was the number of correctly listed feelings open—ended response format. In response to a short sample situation e. Sample situations were provided for five basic emotions: joy, sadness, surprise, fear, and anger. One point was given for each component answered correctly and none for an incorrect response. All responses were assessed by two independent, trained raters. A multiple choice response scale with four categories was presented with the instruction to choose one answer.
The scale consisted of six items presenting short stories according to which the children had to estimate the hidden feelings of two people. For example: Peter comes home.
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His parents have been arguing repeatedly in recent months. His mother sighs and says in a husky voice. What feeling is his mother masking? Response possibilities: joy, disgust, sadness, pride, anger. The task was considered to be correct only if the child correctly recognized the masked feelings of both people.
The items are homogeneous according to a one parameter logistic test model, model-based reliability estimates: pre-test After listening to a short story presented on the computer , the children had to decide what the protagonist was feeling. A multiple choice item with four categories two of them correct was provided for each story. The children had to select the correct two feelings by pressing a computer button.
The target variable was the number of correctly detected feelings. This scale covered seven situations. Item example: imagine that you spent your vacation together with your beloved grandmother. Today is the day of your departure. Your grandmother brings you to the train station and at the last moment she gives you a present that you have been wanting for a long time.
What are you feeling?
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To avoid memory effects from the pre- to the post-test, parallel tests with different stories were developed for the recognition of masked and mixed feelings as well as for the knowledge about different dimensions of emotions. All new measures that were developed by the authors were checked for reliability, validity, and feasibility during preliminary studies. In order to control for differences in language competence, a measure of general language abilities was constructed and used as a covariate in further analyses.
In the study, the following facets of language competence were assessed. In this test the children had to match an image with the correct word. For each item four possible images were presented. This test consisted of 88 computer-based items. For each correct answer, one point was given. ELFE 1—6 is a reading comprehension test that is used for children from first to fifth grade. For our purposes we used the computer-based version of the test. Reading comprehension is assessed on the basis of the following aspects adding up to three subscales: comprehension of words, comprehension of phrases, and comprehension of texts comprehensive reading.
To assess semantic-lexical skills, children were encouraged to list as many animals as possible in 60 s. No point was given for repetitions. Within the scope of this test of narrative skills, children were encouraged to tell a story based on the textless picture book A Boy, a Dog, a Frog and a Friend Mayer and Mayer, ED form a heterogeneous group of interpretative, linguistic devices including explicit and implicit perspective marks. These perspective marks are used to make a story more exciting and to guide the attention of the listener.
According to the categories of Reilly et al.
A factor analysis showed that these facets measure a general factor of language abilities Beck et al. Thus, a language factor score for every child was calculated by computing an intial principal component analysis. Each child had to stop at five tables situated in a room.
At each table the child was required to answer emotion-focused questions to a text excerpt. Before beginning this test, the test instructor determined that each child was capable of understanding the underlying text. This was important because all tasks were time limited and based on five different text excerpts from one and the same underlying text. Furthermore, all tasks the children completed in rotation were related to issues that had been processed in the emotion-centered literary program.
Thus, children had to recognize mixed and masked feelings, to locate and detect emotional words on the basis of another text excerpt, and to mark the components of an emotion cognitive, physiological, expression, and behavior tendencies. Furthermore, they had to label a feeling after reading the description of an emotional situation. To test the effects of the literature-based program, a multivariate, manifest Change-Model was conducted. Since the children were educated in small groups we had to include the multilevel structure in the database by selecting the MLR Complex estimation method.
Thus, a cluster variable was incorporated in the model for the small group membership. Furthermore, the missing values were taken into account by the use of the Mplus full-information maximum likelihood estimator. The model is displayed in Figure 1. Multivariate, manifest change-model. The correlations between the residuals of the various facets of emotional competence have been omitted in this figure for better readability.
The colored arrows indicate the regressive dependencies. The independent variables were language competence, age, group intervention versus control , sex, and the interaction of the latter two. The correlations between the five independent variables were permitted. As already mentioned, for language competence we performed a confirmatory factor analysis CFA including the variables of receptive vocabulary, literacy, verbal fluency, and narrative abilities Beck et al. The age variable was centered. The dependent variables were emotional vocabulary, explicit emotional knowledge, recognition of masked feelings, and recognition of mixed feelings.
In the multivariate Change-Model, the difference values for all four variables of emotional competence were defined so that for each criterion variable an intercept and a slope could be estimated. The correlations between the residuals of the criterion variables were permitted—also across the various facets of emotional competence.
Correlations of the five independent variables as well as means and SDs are depicted in Table 2.
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Apart from that, there were no significant correlations. In addition, the descriptive statistics showed that the average of language competence due to the principal component analysis and age due to centering is zero.
TABLE 2. Correlations between the independent variables and descriptive Statistics. Results of the Change-Model are presented in Table 3. The regression weights of intercepts revealed that no significant group differences existed at time t1. Prior to the intervention, the two groups had in all four dependent variables equal levels of emotional competence and did not differ by sex, control or intervention group and the interaction of both. Based on these results, we can conclude that the two groups were compatible prior to the intervention.
Moreover, it became obvious that children with a higher level of language competence had an initial better test result in emotional competence. The regression weights of slopes showed that the factor group significantly predicted the improvement in three facets of emotional competence to the benefit of the intervention group.
In terms of this variable, boys profited significantly more than girls. No significant treatment effect was found with respect to recognition of mixed feelings.
We calculated the intraclass correlation coefficient ICC to test whether we had to take into account the clustering effect concerning the Emotion-in-text-task-scale. With an estimate of 0. To investigate if children of both groups differ significantly in their text analysis skills after the intervention, we calculated an ANCOVA with the between-subject factors group and sex, controlling for language competence and age. The results of the current study generally support the assumption that a literature-based intervention increases emotional competences in children.
Furthermore, the effects of the program partly varied by gender of child. Thus, especially boys were positively influenced in their capability to recognize masked feelings.
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