Stephanie has just graduated from University, and has been recruited as a teacher in Liberal Studies. Apart from having a keen interest in social issues, she was a member of the debate society at University. As sometimes experienced by teachers, Stephanie found that a number of issues are quite controversial with no absolute right or wrong and those depend on one’s perception/views.
She just made good use of her acquired debating skills to carry out lessons in Liberal Studies, and asks her student to consider a social issue from different angles. Her class is divided into two sides, either supportive or against an open end issue, and they are asked to find information, discuss among themselves, interact with the teacher, and present their views in front of the whole class.
The lessons are lively, with students participating, and they enjoy the class much. While Stephanie felt glad that students are more active than before, she also observed that students are overly concerned with winning or losing in the debate. The vocal students are also dominating much in the class discussion. Over time, the students gradually learn to put forth their views and critique others’ point of views. Stephanie also noticed that students tend to form a certain point of view and then gather evidence to support their position, rather than opening up to listen to others and to change their positions as necessary. Arguing is good but are they learning?
Instead of primarily attempting to convince others, Arguing to Learn helps learners to
Thus, the production of high-quality argumentation involves elaboration, reasoning, reflection and social interaction carried out among two or more individuals to:
Baker (2004) identified four learning mechanisms that are potentially associated with effective arguing to learn
The instructional challenge is to trigger productive and well-elaborated argumentation among students, who cannot simply be told to argue to learn.
Instructors have to create appropriate learning contexts in a kind of design experiment, design complex task sequences, and incorporate many argumentative activities over an extended period.
Technology, especially computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL), has the potential to support productive argumentation by