What do we really know about students’ written arguments? Evaluating written argumentation skills

Maria Evagorou 1 * , Elena Papanastasiou 1, Maria Vrikki 1
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1 Department of Education, School of Education, University of Nicosia, 2417, Nicosia, CYPRUS
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp. 615-634. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/13284
Published Online: 15 May 2023, Published: 01 October 2023
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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to explore the different sub-skills of students’ written arguments (i.e., writing an argument, choosing a convincing argument) that might exist, and the content dependency of arguments. This paper presents two written argumentation tools that were designed for 11-14 year-old students, and the main outcomes from applying the tools to evaluate the written arguments of 246 students. The analysis of the data implies that choosing a convincing argument is a different kind of skill than any of the other three aspects of argumentation that were evaluated in these tests; that argumentation is content specific, and that argument construction is easier when the students’ have knowledge of the topic, regardless of whether this is a scientific or an everyday life topic. A main contribution in this study is that we have identified the degree of complexity for all four sub-skills that were included in the test. By identifying that writing an argument is a more difficult skill to acquire, or that students are not acquainted with it, it can help educators to design better scaffolding structures to support students when writing counterarguments. Research implications arising from the findings include exploring in detail how students choose to agree or disagree with given claims in different situations – for example exploring the difference in agreeing with media claims on socioscientific issues as opposed to scientific claims in the science classroom. Implications for teaching include using different teaching approaches for scientific and everyday argumentation.

CITATION

Evagorou, M., Papanastasiou, E., & Vrikki, M. (2023). What do we really know about students’ written arguments? Evaluating written argumentation skills. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(4), 615-634. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/13284

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