Current research and theory on social information processing is used to frame the peer interactions of "Emily Dickinson," a 16-year-old girl with a long history of oral language problems and social isolation, but strong interests in literacy. In ongoing assessment that prioritized authentic and ecologically valid data collected in classroom settings, the Crick and Dodge (1994) model was used to guide an analysis of Emily's social-cognitive abilities and disabilities during peer interaction. These observations revealed that Emily had evolved a social schema that strategically recruited her strong literacy interests and skills to initiate and mediate social interaction with peers. This suggests that literacy curricula may be a valuable site for assessing and scaffolding social/communication problem-solving in students with language disabilities.
KEY WORDS: social problem-solving, peer relationships, adolescents with language disabilities, literacy, authentic assessment
Submitted on September 8, 1998
Accepted on April 5, 1999