Innovative strategies to promote students' argumentation in science
Date of Award
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
There is great need in science education to promote students' scientific thinking to understand the natural and human-made phenomena in scientific manner. Argumentation is considered as one of the ways to promote scientific-thinking. But studies in the area of argumentation in the context of the developing world could not be located. Therefore, this study aimed to understand and explore the processes to apply the strategies to promote students' argumentation in a science grade seven of a public school in Karachi, Pakistan. The practical action research methodology based on cyclic model by Kemmis, McTaggart and Retallick (2004) was used to attain the aim of the study. This model is based on identifying the general idea, reconnaissance stage to identify the prevalent teaching and learning situation, planning, implementation, and monitoring of implementation process. In this study five students of class VII and one science teacher voluntarily participated. The data was collected through classroom observations, interviews, field notes, reflective journal, audio-recording of the students' conversation, and document analysis. The data was analyzed in two steps; on-going data analysis continued throughout the data collection process, and overall data was analyzed at the completion of the implementation process. In this regard, Toulmin Argument Pattern (TAP) was used to assess students' arguments. The results revealed that the students could construct better level of arguments by using claim, data and warrant components of TAP, through applying two different strategies. Such as: the whole-class discussion based-on students' personal experiences along with teachers' and students' questioning, and Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) along with working model about the sun, earth and moon. Besides, these strategies also facilitated the development of other aspects of argument like construction of content knowledge, scientific thinking, and culture for argument including questioning, acceptance of ideas, the social dimensions of argument and decision-making during argumentation. Moreover, during debate the students proposed arguments and counter arguments but could not demonstrate scientific attitude and social-dimension of argumentation. Modeling was implemented for development of the language for argument, through this students could visualize a suggested practice and they frequently demonstrated similar use of language to question or challenge the ideas and claims of each other. Subsequently, these questions seemed to create culture of argument and reasoning discussion in the classroom. However, during modeling students could demonstrate the use of appropriate language to challenge ideas but rarely presented and supported own ideas. The study implies that argumentation should be an important component of school education; it should be a part of all science teacher education programs, textual material for teaching argumentation needs to be developed, science textbooks need to have socio-scientific, health and environmental issues and a persuasive style to develop argumentation which will bring about both conceptual understanding and scientific thinking. Translation of the data from Urdu to English language and limited involvement of participants in the planning and reflection are considered as limitations of the study.
Chang, A. (2007). Innovative strategies to promote students' argumentation in science (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.