Bolstering students’ written argumentation by refining an effective discourse intervention: negotiating the fine line between flexibility and fidelity
Effective interventions are needed to bolster students’ argumentation capacities, an area in which they consistently struggle. Quality Talk (QT) is an approach to small-group classroom discussion shown to support students’ oral argumentation with preliminary evidence that it may also bolster students’ written argumentation. Teachers often must adapt interventions to their local context, balancing needed flexibility with sufficient adherence to fidelity to reach expected efficacy. The present study was conducted over one school year with two fifth-grade teachers and their 46 students. In Phase I, two participating teachers implemented a refined version of QT, and we examined the effects on students’ oral and written argumentation performance. While typical gains in students’ oral argumentation performance were evidenced, students’ written argumentation did not improve to the degree expected, particularly in terms of performance with unfamiliar texts. In Phase II, both teachers reincorporated a component of QT (i.e., regular post-discussion written argumentation practice) they had adapted in Phase I, and one teacher added a new written argumentation scaffold designed to further bolster students’ transfer from oral to written argumentation. By the end of the study, students from both classes evidenced growth in written argumentation, but the students from the class receiving the writing scaffold outperformed comparison class students with large effects. Findings underscore the importance of including regular post-discussion written argumentation practice and illustrate the added value of a new written argumentation scaffold, while also contributing to a better understanding of how to balance flexibility and fidelity for efficacious QT implementation.
KeywordsSmall-group discussion Quality Talk Oral argumentation Argumentative writing
This research was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through Grant R305A130031 to the Pennsylvania State University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the Institute or the US Department of Education.
- Belland, B. R., Gu, J., Armbrust, S., & Cook, B. (2015). Scaffolding argumentation about water quality: A mixed-method study in a rural middle school. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63(3), 325–353.Google Scholar
- Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1982). From conversation to composition: The role of instruction in a developmental process. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 1–64). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Coburn, C. E. (2003). Rethinking scale: Moving beyond numbers to deep and lasting change. Educational Researcher, 32(6), 3–12.Google Scholar
- College Board. (2004). Report of the National Commission of Writing for America’s families, schools, and colleges. Writing: A Ticket to Work... Or a Ticket Out. A Survey of Business Leaders. https://www.nwp.org/cs/public/download/nwp_file/21479/writing-ticket-to-work.pdf?x-r=pcfile_d.
- Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project. (2011). Framework for success in postsecondary writing. http://wpacouncil.org/files/framework-for-success-postsecondary-writing.pdf.
- Croninger, R. M. V., Li, M., Cameron, C., & Murphy, P. K. (2017). Classroom discussions: Building the foundation for productive talk. In P. K. Murphy (Ed.), Classroom discussions in education: Promoting productive talk about text and content (pp. 1–29). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- De La Paz, S. (2005). Teaching historical reasoning and argumentative writing in culturally and academically diverse middle school classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 139–158.Google Scholar
- De La Paz, S., Ferretti, R., Wissinger, D., Yee, L., & MacArthur, C. (2012). Adolescents’ disciplinary use of evidence, argumentative strategies, and organizational structure in writing about historical controversies. Written Communication, 29, 412–454. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088312461591.Google Scholar
- De La Paz, S., & McCutchen, D. (2011). Learning to write. In R. E. Mayer & P. A. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of research on learning and instruction (pp. 382–407). New York and London: Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
- Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1994). Grounding intervention research in the larger context of schooling: A response to Pressley and Harris. Educational Psychology Review, 6, 215–222.Google Scholar
- Dong, T., Anderson, R. C., Kim, I. H., & Li, Y. (2008). Collaborative reasoning in China and Korea. Reading Research Quarterly, 43, 400–424. http://www.jstor.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/stable/20068354.
- Durlak, J. A. (2010). The importance of doing well in whatever you do: A commentary on the special section, “Implementation research in early childhood education.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(3), 348–357. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885200610000232.
- Felton, M., & Herko, S. (2004). From dialogue to two-sided argument: Scaffolding adolescents’ persuasive writing. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 47, 672–683. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40016901.
- Freedman, A., & Pringle, I. (1984). Why students can’t write arguments. English in Education, 18, 73–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-8845.1984.tb00668.x.Google Scholar
- Fuchs, L., Fuchs, D., Hosp, M., & Jenkins, J. (2001). Oral reading fluency as an indicator of reading competence: A theoretical, empirical, and historical analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(3), 239–256.Google Scholar
- Gersten, R., Carnine, D., & Williams, P. (1982). Measuring implementation of a structured educational model in an urban school district: An observational approach. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 4, 67–79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1163794.
- Goffreda, C., & Diperna, J. (2010). An empirical review of psychometric evidence for the dynamic indicators of basic early literacy skills. School Psychology Review, 30(3), 463–483.Google Scholar
- Goldman, S. R., Britt, M. A., Brown, W., Cribb, G., George, M., Greenleaf, C., et al. (2016). Disciplinary literacies and learning to read for understanding: A conceptual framework of core processes and constructs. Educational Psychologist, 51, 219–246.Google Scholar
- Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Mason, L. (2005). Improving the writing performance, knowledge, and motivation of struggling young writers: The effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 207–241.Google Scholar
- Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.Google Scholar
- Greene, J. A. (2015). Serious challenges require serious scholarship: Integrating implementation science into the scholarly discourse. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 40, 112–120.Google Scholar
- Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (2017). Self-regulated strategy development: Theoretical bases, critical instructional elements, and future research. In R. Fidalgo & T. Olive (series editors) and R. Fidalgo, K. R. Harris, & M. Braaksma (volume editors), Studies in writing: Design principles for teaching effective writing: Theoretical and empirical grounded principles (Vol. 34). Leiden: Brill Editions.Google Scholar
- Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Mason, L. (2003). Self-regulated strategy development in the classroom: Part of a balanced approach to writing instruction for students with disabilities. Focus on Exceptional Children, 35(7), 1–16.Google Scholar
- Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Mason, L., & Friedlander, B. (2008). Powerful writing strategies for all students. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.Google Scholar
- Hays, J. N., & Brandt, K. S. (1992). Socio-cognitive development and students’ performance on audience-centered argumentative writing. In M. Secor & D. Charney (Eds.), Constructing rhetorical education (pp. 202–229). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
- Hoose, P. M. (2001). We were there, too!: Young people in U.S. history. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Iordanou, K., Kendeou, P., & Beker, K. (2016). Argumentative reasoning. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 39–53). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Jimenez-Aleibandre, M., & Erduran, S. (2008). Argumentation in science education: An overview. In S. Erduran & M. Jimenez-Aleibandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: Perspectives from classroom-based research (pp. 3–28). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Johnson, E., Jenkins, J., Petscher, Y., & Catts, H. (2009). How can we improve the accuracy of screening instruments? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 24(4), 174–185.Google Scholar
- Kline, F. M., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1992). Implementing learning strategy instruction in class settings: A research perspective. In M. Pressley, K. R. Harris, & J. T. Guthrie (Eds.), Promoting academic competence and literacy in school (pp. 361–406). San Diego, CA: Academic.Google Scholar
- Klingner, J. K., Boardman, A. G., & McMaster, K. L. (2013). What does it take to scale up and sustain evidence-based practices? Exceptional Children, 79, 195–211.Google Scholar
- Knudson, R. E. (1992, December). An analysis of persuasive discourse: Learning how to take a stand. In Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, San Antonio, TX. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 353 381.Google Scholar
- Kuhn, D., Hemberger, L., & Khait, V. (2016). Tracing the development of argumentative writing in a discourse-rich context. Writing Communication, 33, 92–121.Google Scholar
- Kuhn, D., Shaw, V., & Felton, M. (1997). Effects of dyadic interaction on argumentative reasoning. Cognition and Instruction, 15, 287–315.Google Scholar
- Lauer, J. M. (1994). Persuasive writing on public issues. In W. R. Winterowd & V. Gillespie (Eds.), Composition in context: Essays in honor of D. C. Stewart (pp. 62–72). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
- Li, M., Murphy, P. K., & Firetto, C. M. (2014). Examining the effects of text genre and structure on 4th- and 5th-grade students’ high-level comprehension as evidenced in small-group discussions. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 3(3), 205–234. https://doi.org/10.4471/ijep.2014.12.Google Scholar
- Li, M., Murphy, P. K., Wang, J., Mason, L. H., Firetto, C. M., Wei, L., et al. (2016). Promoting reading comprehension and critical-analytic thinking: A comparison of three approaches with fourth and fifth graders. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 46, 101–115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2016.05.002.Google Scholar
- Long, V. A., Firetto, C. M., & Murphy, P. K. (2014, August). Transfer effects from small group discussions of text to writing. In Paper presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- López, C., & Vicuña, A. M. (2011). Improving the teaching of argumentation through pragma-dialectical rules and a community of inquiry. In Proceedings of the 7th conference on argumentation of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (pp. 1130–1140).Google Scholar
- Mason, L. H., Reid, R., & Hagaman, J. (2012). Building comprehension in adolescents: Powerful strategies for improving reading and writing in content areas. Baltimore, MD: Brooks Publishing Co., Inc.Google Scholar
- McLaughlin, M. (1990). The Rand Change Agent Study revisited: Macro perspectives and micro realities. Educational Research, 19(9), 11–16. http://web.stanford.edu/group/suse-crc/cgi-bin/drupal/sites/default/files/rand-change.pdf.
- Murphy, P. K. (Ed.). (2018). Classroom discussions in education: Promoting productive talk about text and content. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., & Firetto, C. M. (2018). Quality Talk: A blueprint for productive talk. In P. Karen Murphy (Ed.), Classroom discussions in education: Promoting productive talk about text and content. Educational Psychology Insights Series (pp. 101–133). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., Firetto, C. M., Greene, J. A., & Butler, A. M. (2017a). Analyzing the talk in Quality Talk discussions: A coding manual. https://doi.org/10.18113/S1XW64.
- Murphy, P. K., Firetto, C. M., Li, M., Wei, L., & Croninger, R. M. V. (2017b). Fostering student writing through intervention research: An examination of key components. In R. Fidalgo & T. Olive (series editors) and R. Fidalgo, K. R. Harris, & M. Braaksma (volume editors), Studies in Writing Series: Design principles for teaching effective writing (Vol. 34, pp. 253–279). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., Firetto, C. M., Wei, L., Li, M., & Croninger, R. M. V. (2016). What REALLY works: Optimizing classroom discussions to promote comprehension and critical-analytic thinking. Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Science, 3(1), 27–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732215624215.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., Greene, J. A., Firetto, C. M., Li, M., Lobczowski, N. G., Duke, R. F., et al. (2017c). Exploring the influence of homogeneous versus heterogeneous grouping on students’ text-based discussions and comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 51, 336–355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2017.09.003.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., Wilkinson, I. A. G., & Soter, A. O. (2011). Instruction based on discussion. In R. Mayer & P. A. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of research on learning and instruction (pp. 382–407). New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
- Murphy, P. K., Wilkinson, I. A. G., Soter, A. O., Hennessey, M. N., & Alexander, J. F. (2009). Examining the effects of classroom discussion on students’ high-level comprehension of text: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 740–764. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015576.Google Scholar
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). Reading framework for the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. https://www.edpubs.gov/document/ed002606p.pdf?ck=6.
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The nation’s report card: Writing 2011 (NCES 2012-470). Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2011/2012470.pdf.
- National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts: Kindergarten-Grade 12 Introduction. Washington, DC: Authors. http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/introduction/students-who-are-college-and-career-ready-in-reading-writing-speaking-listening-language/.
- Pearson. (2012). AIMSweb technical manual (R-CBM and TEL). Eden Prairie, NM: NCS Pearson Inc.Google Scholar
- Pearson, P. D., & Gallagher, M. C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8(3), 20–22.Google Scholar
- Piaget, J. (1928). The child’s conception of the world. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Reznitskaya, A., Anderson, R. C., & Kuo, L. (2007). Teaching and learning argumentation. The Elementary School Journal, 107(5), 449–472.Google Scholar
- Reznitskaya, A., Glina, M., Carolan, B., Michaud, O., Rogers, J., & Sequeira, L. (2012). Examining transfer effects from dialogic discussions to new tasks and contexts. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37, 288–306.Google Scholar
- Rogoff, B. (2017). Teaching exceptional children. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Scanlon, D., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. (1994). Collaborative dialogues between teachers and researchers to create education interventions: A case study. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 5(1), 69–76.Google Scholar
- Schwarz, B. B., Neuman, Y., Gil, J., & Ilya, M. (2003). Construction of collective and individual knowledge in argumentative activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 12, 219–256.Google Scholar
- Soter, A. O., Wilkinson, I. A., Murphy, P. K., Rudge, L., Reninger, K., & Edwards, M. (2008). What the discourse tells us: Talk and indicators of high-level comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 47, 372–391.Google Scholar
- van Amelsvoort, M., Andriessen, J., & Kanselaar, G. (2007). Representational tools in computer-supported collaborative argumentation-based learning: How dyads work with constructed and inspected argumentative diagrams. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 16, 485–521.Google Scholar
- Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Webb, N. M., & Palinscar, A. S. (1996). Group processes in the classroom. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 841–873). New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, I. A. G., Soter, A. O., & Murphy, P. K. (2010). Developing a model of Quality Talk about literary text. In M. G. McKeown & L. Kucan (Eds.), Bringing reading research to life (pp. 142–169). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, I. A. G., & Tsai, H. F. (2011, August). Theoretically framing research on classroom discourse as it affects reading comprehension. In Paper presented at the 14th biennial meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Exeter, UK.Google Scholar
- Yeh, S. (1998). Empowering education: Teaching argumentative writing to cultural minority middle-school students. Research in the Teaching of English, 33(1), 49–83.Google Scholar