What effect does a semi-structured task (spot-the-difference)have on turn-taking organisation as compared to an unstructured task (spontaneous conversation)?
(2015) What effect does a semi-structured task (spot-the-difference)have on turn-taking organisation as compared to an unstructured task (spontaneous conversation)?, no. 58.
Turn-taking organisation has been studied in many contexts, such as emergency telephone conversations, interviews and courtroom interactions (Heritage and Clayman 2010). Comparisons have been made between these structured interactions and conversations to discover any differences (Heritage and Clayman 2010), using Conversation Analysis (CA) techniques. This study continues with this research by comparing a semi-structured collaborative task, namely a spot-the-difference (STD) task, to unstructured conversation. Several key areas of turn-taking organisation were selected for comparison, such as length of turn, number of overlaps, number of questions asked and amount of silence. Audio-recordings of 10 dyads performing both tasks were transcribed using CA, and data was collected from this analysis. The results show that there were shorter turns and fewer overlaps in STD, with more questions asked and more silence overall in STD. The proportion of acknowledgement tokens used as turns and overlaps were found to be unaffected by task type, but the type of questions asked were different, with declarative questions being used to a greater degree in STD than in conversation. Finally, the most frequent between speaker interval was found to be in the range of 0.2 to 0.29 seconds, with the majority of intervals overall less than an approximate one second maximum. The conclusion is that a semi-structured activity such as STD has a specific effect on turntaking organisation, and this has clinical implications. For example, if practice at asking questions was required, an STD task may be more suitable than having a conversation, as the task has the purpose of asking questions to reach its goal within a limited format.