Kind, P. M., Kind, V., Hofstein, A., & Wilson, J. (2011). Peer argumentation in the school science laboratory – Exploring effects of task features. International Journal of Science Education, 33(18), 2527–2558.
Helping learners to engage with argumentation is one key part of science education. Lab work is another. Combining the two, therefore, would seem sensible. This study examined the effect of three different lab-based tasks on the quality of any subsequent argumentation. It found that tasks providing explicit instructions to interrogate data and justify claims were the most productive.
Kuhn, D. (2010). Teaching and learning science as argument. Science Education, 94(5), 810–824.
Learning how to communicate and engage in scientific discourse has become a significant goal of science education. Argumentation, or the practice of persuasion using evidence, is identified as a core epistemic practice of science and this study aims to identify some of the essential characteristics and skills students need to engage in scientific argumentation. For ISE professionals teaching science communication, the description and outcomes of this study encompass goals and techniques that might be applied to their own programs.
Sampson, V., & Clark, D. (2009). The impact of collaboration on the outcomes of scientific argumentation. Science Education, 93(3), 448–484.
In this study, researchers investigated the commonly held view that collaboration improves scientific argumentation. The study tested the perspective that in collaborative investigations individuals build off each others' ideas, taking advantage of different cognitive and monitoring resources in the group, in order to develop more compelling and accurate scientific arguments than they would have if they had been working alone. The study results showed a mix of outcomes for the students.
Cavagnetto, A.R. (2010). Argument to foster scientific literacy: A review of argument interventions in K-12 science contexts. Review of Educational Research 80(3) 336–371.
This article provides a review of the research literature concerning scientific argumentation in the K-12 classroom. The researcher argues that not all forms of argumentation promote an understanding of scientific practice, and therefore not all support scientific literacy. This paper identifies three main approaches to lessons that aim to introduce students to scientific argumentation: (1) immersion, (2) structure, and (3) socioscientific. The research draws on the work of Ford (2008) and others to find that immersion strategies – lessons in which argumentation is integrated into the processes of engaging in scientific inquiry (as opposed to it being taught as a separate lesson on structures of argument (approach 2) or being taught in the context of debating or discussing science and society issues (approach 3)) holds the greatest promise for supporting scientific literacy.
McNeill, K., & Krajcik, J. (2009). Synergy between teacher practices and curricular scaffolds to support students in using domain-specific and domain-general knowledge in writing arguments to explain phenomenon, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18 (3), 416–460.
This article reports on a study that reveals some of the complexities of supporting children's understandings of scientific argumentation. The paper could be useful for ISE educators seeking to incorporate scientific argumentation processes and skills into their programs for middle-school-aged children. Specifically, the article notes the benefits of context-specific (rather than generic) prompts and questions, and the need for ongoing professional development to support teachers in encouraging scientific argumentation.
Wilson, C.D., Taylor, J.A., Kowalski, S.M. & Carlson, J. (2010). The relative effects and equity of inquiry-based and commonplace science teaching on students’ knowledge, reasoning, and argumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(3), 276–301.
This study is of value in guiding ISE professionals’ thinking on the usefulness of inquiry-based instruction, especially in a climate of accountability and evidence-based reform. Students in the inquiry-based group perform better than the students receiving commonplace instruction, on each of the knowledge, scientific reasoning, and argumentation measures.
Chin, C., & Osborne, J. (2010). Supporting argumentation through case studies in science classrooms. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19 (2), 230–284.
In this study, researchers investigated how student-generated questions could operate to advance scientific argumentation and understanding in a middle school classroom by illuminating prior knowledge, highlighting inconsistencies, and identifying and evaluating evidence, among other things. This article might be relevant to ISE educators who use or want to use student questioning to advance students' scientific reasoning in structured educational programs.
Cavagnetto, A., Hand, B.M. & Norton-Meier, L. (2010). The nature of elementary student science discourse in the context of the science writing heuristic approach. International Journal of Science Education, 32(4), 427–449.
Science is often seen by students to be a body of incontrovertible facts. If, however, we emphasise the methods in which scientific ideas and explanations are exchanged, challenged and negotiated, students may come to understand the rich and dynamic patterns of science, and thus find it more engaging. The Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) approach tries to do just this by scaffolding students in using different forms of language to engage in inquiry leading to the generation and defence of a science dispute. This paper may be of particular interest to ISE practitioners who are involved in supporting students to engage in debates and other forms of communication requiring the skills of argumentation.
Osborne, J. F., & Patterson, A. (2011). Scientific argument and explanation: A necessary distinction? Science Education, 95(4), 627–638.
Explanation and argument are often confused or blended in science education literature and policy documents, a problem the authors have noticed and attempted to address in this paper. The authors believe that distinguishing between the two is important for educators so that students are taught to accurately construct their own explanations and arguments and identify them in others, as both are abilities necessary for the creation and justification of new science knowledge. The authors describe the features of explanation and argument, the differences between them, and where they overlap.