Argumentation Schema to Analyze High School Students' Scientific Reasoning

Argumentation Schema to Analyze High School Students' Scientific Reasoning

Ricardo Lorenzo De la Garza (Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico), Genaro Zavala (Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico & Universidad Andres Bello, Chile) and Alma Adrianna Gómez Galindo (CINVESTAV Unidad Monterrey, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2026-9.ch015
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This chapter describes how the explicit teaching of an argumentative schema Toulmin argumentative process (TAP) allows the exploration of students' scientific reasoning according to the cognitive model of science (CMS) when immersed in a kinematic activity called The walking man. A qualitative methodology was implemented to acquire, explore, and analyze two sources of data that were recollected from students discourse and a poster generated during the implementation of a kinematic activity. The results found show that it is possible to model students' scientific reasoning after the explicit teaching of TAP and that it also acts as a scaffolding resource for students to promote scientific reasoning cognitive abilities such as observation, data collection, use of representations (tabular, graphical and mathematical equation), creation, analysis and discussion of a kinematic model of the phenomena.
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The activity of presenting science as a human act, one that seeks the construction and validation of scientific theories by applying the scientific reasoning through the use of skills such as critiques and argumentation, has been lauded as an important issue by the science education community (Izquierdo, Espinet, García, Pujol, & Sanmartí, 1999; Katchevich & Mamlok-Naaman, 2011; Sandoval & Reiser, 2003). Duschl identifies this as two faces of science: one related to the products, which include scientific principles, facts, models, and laws; and the other related to the manipulative and cognitive process of science, such as collecting data, analyzing it to transform it into evidence, information synthesis, and its evaluation to make conclusions (Duschl, 1997 & 2008).

Being conscious as an educator of these two important and complementary faces of science is essential because it sets an epistemological point of view of science education that defines the type of teaching and learning strategies being used to promote scientific reasoning in the classroom. This chapter presents two necessary elements to create a balance between the two faces of science when teaching and learning it. First, the selection of a specific cognitive model of science that presents how the scientific knowledge is produced and evaluated (Giere, 1999); second, the use of an argumentation schema to analyze students’ scientific reasoning.

Giere (1992) developed a view to represent how the scientific knowledge is created, called the cognitive model of science (CMS). The cognitive model of science considers that scientific knowledge is generated when the scientist creates a model of the physical world as the result of a dialectic dialog between him and its object of study (Martínez, 2007). This view of science emphasizes the process of knowledge generation, wherein science is conceived as a human task that aims to interpret physical phenomena through specific theoretical reasoning and the construction of theoretical models with the intention to acquire further in knowledge.

Argumentation has been called the language of science. In addition, it has been identified as a possible mechanism for improving the understanding of scientific concepts and an agent to promote conceptual change in science teaching. So, the argumentation process is closely linked with science epistemology in both scholarly and school science (Tippett, 2009).

Through this chapter, the reader will gain access to two specific models —a scientific reasoning model, and an argumentation schema —, the manner in which these two models can be intertwined in a class activity used in a real class environment, and how to use this schema to analyze students’ scientific reasoning. The authors argue there is a need for science education to include activities that involve students in an essential element of the scientific culture, thereby promoting a clearer impression of what scientific reasoning is about.

The objective of this chapter is to show how the explicit teaching of an argumentation schema promotes a scaffolding model for students to develop the cognitive process through which scientific reasoning is based.

The chapter is organized in the following way: a brief literature review outlines the cognitive model of science and argumentation, followed by some empirical investigations that use argumentation practices to develop scientific reasoning; and, from these, a research question emerges and the methodology to solve the problem is described.

Purpose of the Study and Research Questions

The purpose of the study is to identify, describe and analyze the scientific reasoning used by high school students when solving a kinematic issue using an argumentative schema.

This research opportunity for identifying, describing and analyzing scientific reasoning in kinematic issues and argumentation is framed by the following research questions, which will explore connections between the theoretical constructs of argumentation and scientific reasoning. The research questions are:

  • How does the explicit teaching of an argumentative schema allow identifying, describing and analyzing students’ scientific reasoning according to the cognitive model of science when immersed in a kinematic activity called “The walking man”?

  • Which elements of the “Walking man” activity promote the development of cognitive skills according to the scientific reasoning such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and discussion?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Epistemology: Part of the philosophy that studies the construction and validation of scientific knowledge.

Argumentation: Dialogic activity, written or oral, wherein a student can express their opinion about certain topic.

Scientific Reasoning: Specific cognitive process that allows the generation of scientific knowledge, which is based in argumentation and critique.

Argumentation Schema: Structure that allows a student to see the elements that conform an argument including all the relationships between the parts.

Data: Specific information of certain variables acquired with the purpose of studying natural phenomena.

Science Education: Field of knowledge concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community.

Kinematic: Part of Physics that studies the motion of objects.

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