Supporting middle school students' construction of evidence-based arguments: Impact of and student interactions with computer-based argumentation scaffolds
Brian Robert Belland, Purdue University, United States
Purdue University . Awarded
Middle school students have difficulty creating evidence-based arguments (EBAs) during problem-based learning (PBL) units due to challenges (a) adequately representing the unit's central problem (Ge & Land, 2004; Liu & Bera, 2005), (b) determining and obtaining the most relevant evidence (Pedersen & Liu, 2002-2003), and (c) synthesizing gathered information to construct a sound argument (Cho & Jonassen, 2002). I designed and developed the Connection Log to support middle school students in this process. This study addressed (1) the Connection Log's impact on (a) argument evaluation ability, and (b) group argument quality and (2) how and why middle school science students used the Connection Log.
Four sections of a 7th-grade science class participated. Student groups selected a stakeholder position related to the Human Genome Project (HGP) and needed to decide on and promote a plan to use $3 million to further their position as pertains to the HGP.
I randomly assigned one higher-achieving and one lower-achieving class to Connection Log or no Connection Log conditions. Students completed an argument evaluation test, and impact on argument evaluation ability was determined using nested ANOVA. Two graduate students, blind to treatment conditions, rated group arguments, and impact on group argument quality was determined using nested MANOVA.
To determine how and why students used the Connection Log, I videotaped and interviewed one small group from each class in the experimental condition. I coded transcripts and generated themes, triangulating the two data sources with informal observations during all class sessions and what students wrote in the Connection Log.
I detected no significant differences on claim, evidence, or connection of claim to evidence ratings of debate performances. However, students used the Connection Log to counter different difficulties, and I found a significant main effect of the Connection Log on argument evaluation ability, as well as a significant simple main effect of the Connection Log on argument evaluation ability of lower-achieving students. Implications include the Connection Log's potential to facilitate the creation of evidence-based arguments and the importance of (a) supporting English as a New Language students’ efforts and (b) redundancy in communication.
Belland, B.R. Supporting middle school students' construction of evidence-based arguments: Impact of and student interactions with computer-based argumentation scaffolds. Ph.D. thesis, Purdue University.
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