Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 348–361 | Cite as

Examining Science Teachers’ Argumentation in a Teacher Workshop on Earthquake Engineering

  • Baki Cavlazoglu
  • Carol Stuessy


The purpose of this study was to examine changes in the quality of science teachers’ argumentation as a result of their engagement in a teacher workshop on earthquake engineering emphasizing distributed learning approaches, which included concept mapping, collaborative game playing, and group lesson planning. The participants were ten high school science teachers from US high schools who elected to attend the workshop. To begin and end the teacher workshop, teachers in small groups engaged in concept mapping exercises with other teachers. Researchers audio-recorded individual teachers’ argumentative statements about the inclusion of earthquake engineering concepts in their concept maps, which were then analyzed to reveal the quality of teachers’ argumentation. Toulmin’s argumentation model formed the framework for designing a classification schema to analyze the quality of participants’ argumentative statements. While the analysis of differences in pre- and post-workshop concept mapping exercises revealed that the number of argumentative statements did not change significantly, the quality of participants’ argumentation did increase significantly. As these differences occurred concurrently with distributed learning approaches used throughout the workshop, these results provide evidence to support distributed learning approaches in professional development workshop activities to increase the quality of science teachers’ argumentation. Additionally, these results support the use of concept mapping as a cognitive scaffold to organize participants’ knowledge, facilitate the presentation of argumentation, and as a research tool for providing evidence of teachers’ argumentation skills.


Argumentation Teacher development Engineering education Distributed learning Concept map 



We wish to acknowledge the National Science Foundation (NSF Grant ESI-0830311) and the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M University. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agency or Texas A&M University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Statement

We, the authors of this manuscript, testify that our manuscript submitted to the Journal of Science Education and Technology has not been published in whole or in part elsewhere, is not currently being considered for publication in another journal, and all authors have been personally and actively involved in substantive work leading to the manuscript and will hold themselves jointly and individually responsible for its content.


  1. Banilower, E. R., Smith, P. S., Weiss, I. R., Malzahn, K. A., Campbell, K. M., & Weis, A. M. (2013). Report of the 2012 national survey of science and mathematics education. Chapel Hill: Horizon Research Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Billig, M. (1987). Arguing and thinking: A rhetorical approach to social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, A. L., Ash, D., Rutherford, M., Nakagawa, K., Gordon, A., & Campione, J. C. (2003). In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 188–228). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cavlazoglu, B., & Stuessy, C. (2017a). Changes in science teachers' conceptions and connections of STEM concepts and earthquake engineering. The Journal of Educational Research, 110(3), 239–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cavlazoglu, B., & Stuessy, C. (2017b). Identifying and verifying earthquake engineering concepts to create a knowledge base in STEM education: A modified Delphi study. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 5(1), 40–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, E. G. (1994). Restructuring the classroom: Conditions for productive small groups. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Cunningham, C. M., & Carlsen, W. S. (2014). Teaching engineering practices. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 97–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Custer, R. L., & Daugherty, J. L. (2009). Professional development for teachers of engineering: Research and related activities. The Bridge: Linking Engineering and Society, 39(3), 18–24.Google Scholar
  10. Daugherty, J. L. (2009). Engineering professional development design for secondary school teachers: A multiple case study. Journal of Technology Education, 21(1), 10–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dawson, V., & Venville, G. J. (2009). High school students’ informal reasoning and argumentation about biotechnology: An indicator of scientific literacy? International Journal of Science Education, 31(11), 1421–1445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duschl, R. (2008). Science education in three-part harmony: Balancing conceptual, epistemic, and social learning goals. Review of Research in Education, 32(1), 268–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duschl, R., & Osborne, J. (2002). Supporting and promoting argumentation in science education. Studies in Science Education, 38(1), 39–72. Scholar
  14. Erduran, S., Simon, S., & Osborne, J. (2004). TAPping into argumentation: Developments in the application of toulmin's argument pattern for studying science discourse. Science Education, 88(6), 915–933. Scholar
  15. Giere, R. (1991). Understanding scientific reasoning (3rd ed.). Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  16. Goldman, S. R., Petrosino, A. J., & Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1999). Design principles for instruction in content domains: Lessons from research on expertise and learning. In F. T. Durso, R. S. Nickerson, R. W. Schvaneveldt, S. T. Dumais, D. S. Lindsay, & M. T. H. Chi (Eds.), Handbook of applied cognition (pp. 595–627). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Herrenkohl, L. R., Palincsar, A. S., DeWater, L. S., & Kawasaki, K. (1999). Developing scientific communities in classrooms: A sociocognitive approach. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 8(3-4), 451–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jimenez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Erduran, S. (2008). Argumentation in science education: An overview. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: Perspectives from classroom-based research (pp. 3–27). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Jonassen, D. (2000). Revising activity theory as a framework for designing student-centered learning environments. In D. Jonassen & S. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments (pp. 89–121). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (2009). The status and nature of K-12 engineering education in the united states. The Bridge: Linking Engineering and Society, 39(3), 5–10.Google Scholar
  21. Kaya, E. (2013). Argumentation practices in classroom: Pre-service teachers' conceptual understanding of chemical equilibrium. International Journal of Science Education, 35(7), 1139–1158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhn, T. E. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kuhn, D. (1992). Thinking as argument. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 155–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1986). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts (2nd ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lombard, M., Snyder-Duch, J., & Bracken, C. C. (2002). Content analysis in mass communication. Human Communication Research, 28(4), 587–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McNeill, K. L., Katsh-Singer, R., González-Howard, M., & Loper, S. (2016). Factors impacting teachers' argumentation instruction in their science classrooms. International Journal of Science Education, 38(12), 2026–2046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  29. National Research Council. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K– 8. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  30. National Research Council. (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  31. NGSS. (2013). NGSS release: Appendix A - conceptual shifts. Retrieved from
  32. Osborne, J. (2010). Arguing to learn in science: The role of collaborative, critical discourse. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328(5977), 463–466. Scholar
  33. Osborne, J., Erduran, S., & Simon, S. (2004). Enhancing the quality of argumentation in school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(10), 994–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Passmore, C. M., & Svoboda, J. (2012). Exploring opportunities for argumentation in modelling classrooms. International Journal of Science Education, 34(10), 1535–1554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Perkins, A. (2016). Earthquake: Game-Based Learning for 21st Century STEM Education (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from
  36. Popper, K. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  37. Purzer, S., Moore, T., Baker, D. & Berland, L. (2014). Supporting the implementation of the next generation science standards (NGSS) through research: Engineering. Retrieved from
  38. Randolph, J. J. (2008). Online Kappa Calculator [Computer software]. Retrieved January 10, 2016 , from
  39. Randolph, J. J. (2016). Online kappa calculator. Retrieved from
  40. Sadler, T. D., & Fowler, S. R. (2006). A threshold model of content knowledge transfer for socioscientific argumentation. Science Education, 90(6), 986–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Simon, S., Erduran, S., & Osborne, J. (2006). Learning to teach argumentation: Research and development in the science classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2-3), 235–260. Scholar
  42. Toulmin, S. E. (1958). The uses of argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Toulmin, S. E. (2003). The uses of argument (updated ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Venville, G. J., & Dawson, V. M. (2010). The impact of a classroom intervention on grade 10 students' argumentation skills, informal reasoning, and conceptual understanding of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(8), 952–977.Google Scholar
  45. Von Aufschnaiter, C., Erduran, S., Osborne, J., & Simon, S. (2008). Arguing to learn and learning to argue: Case studies of how students' argumentation relates to their scientific knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(1), 101–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.), Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Wilson, S. M. (2011). Effective STEM teacher preparation, induction, and professional development. Paper Presented at the National Research Council Workshop on Successful STEM Education in K-12 Schools, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  48. Zohar, A. (2007). Science teacher education and professional development in argumentation. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 245–268). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zohar, A., & Nemet, F. (2002). Fostering students' knowledge and argumentation skills through dilemmas in human genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(1), 35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationKaradeniz Technical UniversityTrabzonTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Teaching, Learning and CultureTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations