Practicing Scientific Argumentation Through Social Media

Practicing Scientific Argumentation Through Social Media

Jana Craig-Hare (University of Kansas, USA), Amber Rowland (University of Kansas, USA), Marilyn Ault (University of Kansas, USA) and James D. Ellis (University of Kansas, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2525-7.ch004
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The use of social media in and outside the classroom is increasing in the number of popular applications as well as pervasiveness in our culture. Teachers utilize social media to engage students, connect with experts, and expand their own professional learning. This chapter provides educators with information about the use of social media to support STEM practices. Social media can be used to engage students in active learning and problem-solving through student-posted claims and effective online questioning. Using social media supports the scientific practice of engaging in argument from evidence, as well as emulates how scientists collaborate on their own research and share research findings. Best practices and lessons learned are shared in this chapter, including a case study from a secondary science classroom and suggestions for the use of social media for educator professional learning.
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Social media use is on the rise. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 92% of teens ages 13–17 use the Internet daily, 76% use social media sites and 71% say they use more than one social media application. Seventy-one percent are Facebook users, 52% Instagram, 41% Snapchat and 33% say they used Twitter; up from 16% in 2011 (Lenhart, 2015). Chao, Parker, and Fontana (2011) write about the rise in the use of social media, stating that its impact is “so widespread and inculcated into our culture that it is futile to try to stop their [social media] influence at the classroom door” (p. 324). The 2015 Horizon Report (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015) ranked the increasing use of collaborative learning approaches as the top trend to impact K-12 education in the next three to five years (2015-2019). It states that collaborative learning approaches are a way to increase global collaboration by utilizing online technologies so students are able “to learn with others beyond their immediate environment” (p. 12). Ertmer and her colleagues (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012) argue that technology “needs to be placed in the hands of students, who are encouraged and enabled to utilize it in the same ways, and for the same purposes, that professionals do -- that is, to communicate, collaborate, and solve problems” (p. 424). This perspective is echoed in the 2015 Horizon Report (Johnson et al., 2015) crediting social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine, for helping shift students from consumers to creators (p. 14). Social media, therefore, is a widely-used technology that has an instructional role in education, particularly science education.

The use of social media to engage students in the exchange of information and ideas is similar to how scientists conduct their work. Science is a collaborative process, during which practices, such as argumentation, can be used to present and refine claims as a result of challenges to evidence and reasoning. Argumentation, as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), is “a mode of logical discourse used to clarify the strength of relationships between ideas and evidence that may result in revision of an explanation” (NGSS Lead States, 2013). As a result of the NGSS, argumentation is one of the science practices that is explicitly taught during classroom instruction. This concentration on argumentation has been difficult, possibly because of a lack of instructional resources focusing on argumentation (Ault et al., 2016).

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