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ERIC Number: ED519122
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
Argumentation as a Path to the Thinking Development of Young Adolescents
Kuhn, Deanna; Crowell, Amanda
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Argument has been referred to as the umbrella under which all reasoning lies--"the more general human process of which more specific forms of reasoning are a part". In this paper, the authors present an evidence that argumentive reasoning skills can be assessed and developed in facilitative settings. They focus on middle school as an optimal period to undertake this effort, and they follow Graff (2003), and before him the sociocultural tradition of Vygotsky (1973) and others, in taking the everyday social practice of argumentation as a starting point and pathway for development of individual argumentive skill (Kuhn, 1991). The authors focus here on individual essays because they are arguably the most powerful outcome measures--of transfer of skill from the social to the individual plane--and also because they are the measures of most familiarity and direct interest to educators. Although persuasive writing has long been a curricula concern, the distinction between thinking skills and writing skills is often blurred. Their concern is the thinking skills that underlie writing. At its most minimal level, thinking well about a complex issue can be regarded as requiring the identification and weighing of positive and negative attributes of contrasting positions on the issue, drawing on relevant evidence to inform the judgments involved. Most students' persuasive essays, assessments have shown, fall well short of this standard (NAEP, 2008), with most confined to arguments citing positive attributes of the favored position. A distant second in frequency is exposition of negative attributes of an opposing position. If some combination of both appears, an argument can be classified as reflecting a dual perspective, since the arguer must shift at least once from positive to negative attributes and from the perspective of the favored position to that of the opposing position. This characteristic is also significant in reflecting counterfactual reasoning, since it requires assuming a stance contrary to one's own and reasoning about its implications. Two further possibilities exist as attributes of elementary arguments--exposition of negative attributes of the favored position and/or positive attributes of the opposing position. Either requires the arguer to exhibit what we call an integrative perspective. In contrast to the dual perspective, where all arguments lead to the same conclusion, the set of arguments voiced in this case lead in disparate directions and hence require an integrative weighing in order for a conclusion to be reached. These were applied in a coding system for the essays that constitute their data set. (Contains 6 tables and 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)