Argumentative Interactions and Learning Through a Virtual Environment: Lessons Learned from the Implementation of a Case in Science

Nathalie Muller Mirza (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 109
EISBN13: 9781616921507|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-878-9.ch006
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In the scientific field, argumentative practices can, under certain conditions, help students to elaborate scientific concepts from everyday representations. However, setting up activities that enable learning in a classroom is not an easy matter. A technological environment may be useful in order to sustain argumentation and to “keep track” of the discursive processes. This chapter presents a pedagogical case in science in which the learners take part in an argumentative debate mediated by a technological environment, called Digalo. The chapter focuses on a socio-cultural perspective, thus assigning a central role to social interactions, symbolic and material mediation in development and learning processes. The author describes a case in Biology tested in two educational contexts, and discusses its psycho-pedagogical assumptions. From a qualitative analysis of the data, it appears that cognitive and argumentative processes are interconnected. This means that by articulating and making reference to the others’ arguments, learners also develop a new understanding of the scientific content. The challenges for educational issues and the lessons that may be drawn from an analysis of this case are then discussed.
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