ERIC Number: EJ1021880
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Abstractor: As Provided
The Effect of Task Instructions on Students' Use of Repetition in Argumentative Discourse
Gilabert, Sandra; Garcia-Mila, Merce; Felton, Mark K.
International Journal of Science Education, v35 n17 p2857-2878 2013
The reasoning belief of "argumentum ad nauseam" assumes that when someone repeats something often enough, he or she becomes more convincing. The present paper analyses the use of this strategy by seventh-grade students in an argumentation task. Sixty-five students (mean age: 12.2, SD?=?0.4) from a public school in a mid-sized urban environment took part in the study. The students were asked to either argue to convince an opposing partner or argue to reach consensus with an opposing partner on three dilemmas that dealt with energy sources. Data were gathered according to a between-groups design that included one independent variable (argumentative goal: to convince vs. to reach consensus) and one dependent variable (the degree of argumentative repetitions). We predicted that in the condition to convince their partner, the students would use the repetition strategy more often in their attempts to be persuasive. Our findings show that the mean number of argumentative repetitions was significantly higher for the persuasion group for both of the most frequent argumentative structures (claim and claim data). The mean percentage of repeated claims for the persuasion condition was 86.2 vs. 69.0 for the consensus condition. For the claim data, the mean percentage for the persuasion group was 35.2 vs. 24.3 for the consensus group. Also, students in the persuasion group tended to repeat one idea many times rather than repeating many ideas a few times within the same argumentative structure. The results of our study support the hypothesis that the goal of the argumentative task mediates argumentative discourse and, more concretely, the rate of repetitions and the conceptual diversity of the statements. These differences in rates of repetition and conceptual diversity are related to the amount of learning produced by the instructional goal. We apply Mercer's idea that not all classroom argumentation tasks promote learning equally.
Descriptors: Persuasive Discourse, Repetition, Speech Acts, Middle School Students, Grade 7, Science Education, Science and Society, Public Schools, Urban Schools, Prompting, Literary Devices
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Publication Type: Reports - Research; Journal Articles
Education Level: Grade 7; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A