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Developing Argumentive Discourse & Writing


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Examination of the development of argumentive discourse as a necessary aspect of developing middle school students' written skills in argument.

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Developing Argumentive Discourse & Writing

  1. 1. Social and Cognitive Influences in Teaching Argumentative Texts Mary Ann Reilly
  2. 2. Tasks1. Define argumentive discourse and writing, clarifying differences btw argument and persuasion.2. Examine quasi-experimental research related to argumentive discourse with 8th graders.3. Examine case study of teaching argumentive writing in 7th grade.4. Make use of reading strategy, Say Something.
  3. 3. Thinking and Middle Schoolers• "[A]bove all else... middle grades schools must be about helping all students learn to use their minds well" (p. 11), and• "The main purpose of middle grades education is to promote young adolescents intellectual development." (p. 10) From: Jackson, A., & Davis, G. (2000). Turning Points 2000: Educating adolescents in the 21st century. New York: Teachers College Press.
  4. 4. Why Argument?• Constructing arguments (Voss & Wiley, 1997; Wiley & Voss, 1999; Zohar & Nemet, 2002) and engaging in argumentive discussion (Mason, 1998, 2001) enhance conceptual understanding of subject matter in school- age children, as well as college students.• From Kuhn &Udell, 2003.
  5. 5. Persuasion and Argument1. Same Goals: To convince, to defend, to question2. Different Methods:• Persuasion: Built on logos, pathos, and/or ethos• Argument: Built on logical models that include claim, reasons, evidence, anticipated objections and rebuttal
  6. 6. Goals of Argument• According to Walton (1989), skilled argumentation has two goals.1. Secure commitments from the opponent that can be used to support ones own argument.2. Undermine the opponents position by identifying and challenging weaknesses in his or her argument.
  7. 7. Challenges for Adolescents Regarding Argument• Adolescents are:1. unlikely to construct two-sided arguments2. to distinguish evidence and explanation in support of their claims(Kuhn &Udell, 2003)
  8. 8. Parts of an Argument (Toulmin Method)1. Claim: General statement, assertion upon which the argument is based2. Reasons: Why does a writer believe the claim s/he makes? The reasons a writer gives are the first line of development of any argument.3. Evidence: Facts, examples, statistics, expert testimony, among others--to back up our reasons4. Anticipated Objections & Rebuttals: What might others object too and how does the author rebut those objections? (*Most often not attended to by adolescents)5. Drawing Conclusions: Statement about the effectiveness of the argument by reader
  9. 9. Developing Argumentative Discourse• Academically at-risk middle-school students engage in a ten-week debate activity focused on the topic of capital punishment. Based on their initial pro v. con opinions, students are assigned to a 4-6 person team who share their opinion and with whom they work until near the end of the project.• The social goal that unites and energizes the team is preparation for a final "show-down" debate activity against a team holding the opposing opinion.• Assessments preceding and following the activity are based on – a students individual argument in support of a pro or con opinion, for both the capital punishment topic and a new, transfer topic, – a sample of argumentive discourse between two students holding opposing opinions, again on both the capital punishment topic and a new topic. Initial results indicate significant progress in the quality of both individual argument and argumentive discourse following the activity.
  10. 10. Developing Argumentative Discourse• 34 academically at-risk eighth-grade students attending two low-performing, inner-city public middle schools in New York City.• Students were organized into Pro and Con teams concerned capital punishment based on student survey results. Experimental & Control group.• Pre/Post Assessment designed to examine sophistication of argument (single to dual, reduction in expository response )• Each team worked with an adult for two 90-minute lessons per a week for 8 weeks building argumentative discourse skills that are displayed during debate/showdown. Control group worked w/ adult for 7 of the 16 sessions.
  11. 11. Pair Teams: Pro and Con of a Claim1. Generating Reasons2. Supporting Reasons with Evidence3. Evaluating Reasons4. Developing Reasons into an Argument5. Examining and Evaluating Opposing Side’s Reasons6. Generating Counterarguments to Others’ Reasons7. Generating Rebuttal to Others’ Reasons8. Contemplating Mixed Evidence9. Contemplating & Evaluating Two Evidence (Rehearsal)10. Showdown
  12. 12. Say Something1. With a partner engage in Say Something as you read from pages 1248 (beginning with Intervention) to 1251 (ending at Results) . Stop after each section (Delineated by subheadings) and say something about what you have read.2. Be ready to debrief about what you read and the experience in 10 minutes.
  13. 13. Results• Researchers coded students utterances during showdown as – simple disagreement (with what the partner has said), – disagreement accompanied by an alternate argument, and – disagreement accompanied by a critique of the partners utterance.• Increased production in all categories.
  14. 14. Example of Pre/Post• Initial assessment: If someone did something wrong, they should be subject to capital punishment. (Why is that?) Because for instance if they kill someone, maybe the same thing is due to them. (Any other reason?) Well, I feel that people should pay if they did something wrong.• Final assessment: If someone goes out and kills another person they should receive a justified punishment, an equal punishment. So that if they killed someone then they should receive the same thing. But I can also see how other people can have a different opinion because not everyone thinks the same and they may feel that its wrong to kill another person, that people deserve a second chance. But personally I feel that if you have enough nerve to go out and kill somebody else, well then you just deserve to be killed as well. (Okay, anything else?) Well, one of the reasons why I have this opinion is that Ive seen where facts have shown that capital punishment has reduced crime. And I always think that less crime will make a better life for everyone.
  15. 15. • “argument skills develop and that engagement in an argumentive discourse activity enhances that development (Felton & Kuhn, 2001; Kuhn et al., 1997). …such advancement can be observed not only in the arguments that an individual constructs in support of a claim but also in the quality of argumentive discourse generated in peer dialogues” (Kuhn &Udell, p. 1255).
  16. 16. Developing Demands in Orally Arguing & Listening to Argument as per CCSS•SL.6.3. Delineate a •SL.7.3. Delineate a SL.8.3. Delineate aspeaker’s argument and speaker’s argument and speaker’s argument andspecific claims, specific claims, evaluating specific claims, evaluatingdistinguishing claims that the soundness of the the soundness of theare supported by reasons reasoning and the reasoning and relevanceand evidence from claims relevance and sufficiency of and sufficiency of thethat are not. the evidence. evidence and identifying•SL.6.4. Present claims and •SL.7.4. Present claims and when irrelevant evidence isfindings, sequencing ideas findings, emphasizing introduced.logically and using pertinent salient points in a focused, SL.8.4. Present claims anddescriptions, facts, and coherent manner with findings, emphasizingdetails to accentuate main pertinent descriptions, salient points in a focused,ideas or themes; use facts, details, and coherent manner withappropriate eye contact, examples; use appropriate relevant evidence, soundadequate volume, and clear eye contact, adequate valid reasoning, and well-pronunciation. volume, and clear chosen details; use pronunciation. appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  17. 17. Developing Demands in Writing Argument as per CCSS•W.6.1. Write arguments to support •W.7.1. Write arguments to •W.8.1. Write arguments toclaims with clear reasons and support claims with clear reasons support claims with clear reasonsrelevant evidence. and relevant evidence. and relevant evidence.–Introduce claim(s) and organize –Introduce claim(s), acknowledge –Introduce claim(s), acknowledgethe reasons and evidence clearly. alternate or opposing claims, and and distinguish the claim(s) from–Support claim(s) with clear reasons organize the reasons and evidence alternate or opposing claims, andand relevant evidence, using logically. organize the reasons and evidencecredible sources and demonstrating –Support claim(s) with logical understanding of the topic or reasoning and relevant evidence, –Support claim(s) with logicaltext. using accurate, credible sources reasoning and relevant evidence,–Use words, phrases, and clauses to and demonstrating an using accurate, credible sourcesclarify the relationships among understanding of the topic or text. and demonstrating anclaim(s) and reasons. –Use words, phrases, and clauses to understanding of the topic or text.–Establish and maintain a formal create cohesion and clarify the –Use words, phrases, and clauses tostyle. relationships among claim(s), create cohesion and clarify the–Provide a concluding statement or reasons, and evidence. relationships among claim(s),section that follows from the –Establish and maintain a formal counterclaims, reasons, andargument presented. style. evidence. –Provide a concluding statement or –Establish and maintain a formal section that follows from and style. supports the argument presented. –Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
  18. 18. Developing Demands in Reading Argument as per CCSS•RI.6.8. Trace and •RI.7.8. Trace and •RI.8.8. Delineate andevaluate the argument evaluate the argument evaluate the argumentand specific claims in a and specific claims in a and specific claims in atext, distinguishing text, assessing whether text, assessing whetherclaims that are supported the reasoning is sound the reasoning is soundby reasons and evidence and the evidence is and the evidence isfrom claims that are not. relevant and sufficient to relevant and sufficient; support the claims. recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
  19. 19. What Types of Instruction Support the Argumentative Thinking?• Kuhn et al. (1997) and Lao and Kuhn (2002) have shown that extended engagement in argumentative discourse, in the absence of any additional instruction, is a sufficient condition for enhancement of the quality of arguments produced by individuals following discourse.
  20. 20. Nystrand & Graff (2001)• “Argumentation, especially, is an arduous and dialogic process of response to others, on the onehand, and anticipation of response, on the other. Skilled writers know how to peer over theirshoulders, as it were, while pushing on with their own ideas. The writers interlocutors henceplay a key role in the ostensibly private act of writing, contributing to its development byelaborating different positions and by questioning and disagreeing with ideas the writer proposes.Yet these processes are often short-circuited when knowledge is routinely treated, as it is inmany classrooms, as a given—fixed, and found in texts” (p.7).
  21. 21. Task 1• Examine the transcript between the 7th grade teacher and the student. (Handout)• Based on the transcript, what do you think the student is learning? What makes you say so?
  22. 22. Task #2 Examine the Teacher’s Instruction: What does she believe will best guide student writing/thinking?• I was telling you before that when you write . . . a solid paragraph, you have amain idea here, and then you support it with details, . . . and the more details youhave, the stronger that topic sentence is gonna be. Right? Okay. So heres myquestion to you: If you have your thesis and your assertions chart filled out andyoure writing an introduction, can you do this? We will use this as a paragraph.Lets take . . . all the information you have, and youre going to write a draft ofyour paper. In your introduction, is it possible for you to — have your table top beyour thesis statement and assertions one, two, and three? Okay? So, in yourintroduction, your thesis sentence is either going to be your, generally, its eitherthe first or last sentence of a paragraph in your introduction. And, in yourintroduction, youre also gonna state, just state your assertions. . . . So essentially,your paper could be 5 paragraphs in length. It could be an introduction, in whichyou state your assertions. It could be assertion one and the details, assertion twoand the details, assertion three and the details, and a wrap- up, a conclusion. . . .now if you follow that format, which I think is easy to follow. . . . [3/2/98, from Nystrand & Graff, 2001 ]
  23. 23. Consider this question…What happens to student learning when ateacher’s comments and actions move themtowards closure rather than opening dialog?Is completing the assignment more importantthan learning?
  24. 24. Directions from teacher to students in keeping a double entry notebook.• [T]his is what things I personally thought about the book, and you can say, "Oh,this book is awful—I dont like it, Im bored, I cant relate to the characters." Youare certainly free to say whatever you honestly feel about the book, so just makesure you kind of back it with why. Dont just say [its not a good book]—thats notenough. . . . I wrote, "Dear whoever-I-was-talking-to, Things must have beenawful, This is hard to read, Awful for that boy to have run away. What do youthink he is hoping to find in the city? Is he going to meet someone?" [1/27/98]
  25. 25. Intellectual Environment Matters• The type of activities that happen in the classroom influence how well students think. How the complex demands of a large modern classroom configurewriting and reading activities can inhibit the epistemology of argument.• In the 9 weeks researchers observed (in blocks of two 55-minute classes back to back), not 1 ofthe total 4,950 minutes was given over to discussion in any extended form (they defined discussionas the free exchange of information among students and/or between at least 3 students and theteacher that lasted at least a half minute).
  26. 26. Summary• “…the idea of writing as argument imply changes not only instudent products but also in the overall teaching practices of classrooms. A few changes inwriting instruction, while important, may not have the desired results if the dominantepistemology of the classroom derails the instructional goals for writing” (Nystrand& Graff, 2001).
  27. 27. Recommended Next Steps• During Summer 2012, develop a unit of study appropriate for middle school that: 1. Emphasizes thinking related to argument 2. Emphasizes argumentive discourse 3. Provides teachers and students with scaffolded approach to discussing and writing argumentive text 4. Connects talking and writing with reading/analyzing argumentive text 5. Is ready to implement for 2012-2013 SY• Deeply improve one practice in order to leverage excellence when you are not present.
  28. 28. Works CitedFelton, M., & Kuhn, D. (2001). The development of argumentive discourse skills. Discourse Processes, 32, 135- 153Jackson, A., & Davis, G. (2000). Turning Points 2000: Educating adolescents in the 21st century. New York: Teachers College Press.Kuhn, D. &Udell, V. (2003). The development of argument skills. Child Development, 74( 5), 1245-1260.Kuhn, D., Shaw, V., & Felton, M. (1997). Effects of dyadic interaction on argumentive reasoning. Cognition and Instruction, 15, 287-315.Lao, J., & Kuhn, D. (2002). Cognitive engagement and attitude development. Cognitive Development, 17, 1203- 1217.Mason, L. (1998). Sharing cognition to construct scientific knowledge in school contexts: The role of oral and written discourse. Instructional Science, 26, 359-389.Mason, L. (2001). Introducing talk and writing for conceptual change: A classroom study. In L. Mason (Ed.), Instructional practices for conceptual change in science domains. Learning and Instruction, 11, 305-329.Nystrand, M. & Graff, N. (2001). Report in argument’s clothing. An ecological perspective on writing instruction in a seventh-grade classroom. The Elementary School Journal, 101(4), 479-493.Voss, J., & Wiley, J. (1997). Developing understanding while writing essays in history. International Journal of Educational Research, 27, 255-265.Walton, D. N. (1989). Dialogue theory for critical thinking. Argumentation, 3, 169-184.Wiley, J., & Voss, J. (1999). Constructing arguments from multiple sources: Tasks that promote understanding and not just memory for text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 301-311.Zohar, A., & Nemet, F. (2002). Fostering students know-edge and argumentation skills through dilemmas in human genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 35-62.