Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 1939–1956 | Cite as

Argumentation as a Strategy for Conceptual Learning of Dynamics

  • Handan Eskin
  • Feral Ogan-Bekiroglu


Researchers have emphasized the importance of promoting argumentation in science classrooms for various reasons. However, the study of argumentation is still a young field and more research needs to be carried out on the tools and pedagogical strategies that can assist teachers and students in both the construction and evaluation of scientific arguments. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of argumentation on students’ conceptual learning in dynamics. True-experimental design using quantitative research methods was carried out for the study. The participants of the study were tenth graders studying in two classes in an urban all-girls school. There were 26 female students in each class. Five argumentations promoted in the different contexts were embedded through the dynamics unit over a 10-week duration. The study concludes that engaging in the argumentative process that involves making claims, using data to support these claims, warranting the claims with scientific evidence, and using backings, rebuttals, and qualifiers to further support the reasoning, reinforces students’ understanding of science, and promotes conceptual change. The results suggest that argumentation should be employed during instruction as a way to enable conceptual learning.


Argumentation Conceptual learning Physics education High school students 


  1. Alexopoulou, E., & Driver, R. (1996). Small-group discussion in physics: peer interaction modes in pairs and fours. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33(10), 1099–1114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell, P., & Linn, M. C. (2000). Scientific arguments as learning artifacts: designing for learning from the web with KIE. International Journal of Science Education, 22(8), 797–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulter, C. J., & Gilbert, J. K. (1995). Argument and science education. In P. J. M. Costello & S. Mitchell (Eds.), Competing and consensual voices: the theory and practice of argumentation (pp. 84–98). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, D. B., & Sampson, V. (2008). Assessing dialogic argumentation in online environments to relate structure, grounds, and conceptual quality. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(3), 293–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  6. Crossa, D., Taasoobshirazib, G., Hendricksc, S., & Hickeya, D. T. (2008). Argumentation: a strategy for improving achievement and revealing scientific identities. International Journal of Science Education, 30(6), 837–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dole, J. A., & Sinatra, G. M. (1998). Reconceptualizing change in the cognitive construction of knowledge. Educational Psychologist, 33(2/3), 109–128.Google Scholar
  8. Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational Researcher, 23, 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Driver, R., Newton, P., & Osborne, J. (2000). Establishing the norms of scientific argumentation in classrooms. Science Education, 84, 287–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duschl, R. A. (2008). Quality argumentation and epistemic criteria. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jiménez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 155–179). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Duschl, A., & Osborne, J. (2002). Supporting and promoting argumentation discourse in science education. Studies in Science Education, 38, 39–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Erduran, S., Simon, S., & Osborne, J. (2004). TAPping into argumentation:d in the application of Toulmin’s argument pattern for studying science discourse. Science Education, 88, 915–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Halloun, I., Hake, R., Mosca, E., & Hestenes, D. (1995). Force concept inventory. Available from Accessed 24 May 2001 (password protected)
  14. Hedges, L., & Olkin, I. (1985). Statistical methods for meta-analysis. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Hestenes, D., Wells, M., & Swackhamer, G. (1992). Force concept inventory. The Physics Teacher, 30(3), 141–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hewson, P. W. (1992). Conceptual change in science teaching and teacher education. Paper presented at a meeting on Research and Curriculum Development in Science Teaching, Madrid, Spain, JuneGoogle Scholar
  17. Hogan, K., & Fisherkeller, J. (1996). Representing students’ thinking about nutrient cycling in ecosystems: bidimensional coding of a complex topic. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33(9), 941–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hogan, K., Nastasi, B. K., & Presley, M. (1999). Discourse patterns and collaborative scientific reasoning in peer and teacher-guided discussions. Cognition and Instruction, 17(4), 379–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. P., Rodríguez, A. B., & Duschl, R. (2000). “Doing the lesson” or “doing science”: argument in high school genetics. Science Education, 84, 757–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Pereiro-Muñoz, C. (2002). Knowledge producers or knowledge consumers? Argumentation and decision making about environmental management. International Journal of Science Education, 24(11), 1171–1190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Erduran, S. (2008). Argumentation in science education: an overview. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jiménez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 3–27). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Karplus, R., & Butts, D. P. (1977). Science teaching and the development of reasoning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 14(2), 169–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kelly, G. J., Druker, S., & Chen, C. (1998). Students’ reasoning about electricity: combining performance assessments with argumentation analysis. International Journal of Science Education, 20(7), 849–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kelly, G. J., & Takao, A. (2002). Epistemic levels in argument: an analysis of university oceanography students’ use of evidence in writing. Science Education, 86, 314–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kitcher, P. (1988). The child as parent of the scientist. Mind and Language, 3(3), 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krathwohl, D. R. (1997). Methods of educational and social science research: an integrated approach. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  27. Krummheuer, G. (1995). The ethnography of argumentation. In P. Cobb & H. Bauersfeld (Eds.), The emergence of mathematical meaning: interaction in classroom cultures (pp. 229–269). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  28. Kuhn, D. (1992). Thinking as argument. Harvard Educational Review, 62(2), 155–178.Google Scholar
  29. Kuhn, D. (1993). Science as argument: implications for teaching and learning scientific thinking. Science Education, 77, 319–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kuhn, D., Shaw, W., & Felton, M. (1997). Effects of dyadic interaction on argumentative reasoning. Cognition and Instruction, 15(3), 287–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Leitão, S. (2000). The potential of argument in knowledge building. Human Development, 43, 332–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mason, L. (1998). Sharing cognition to construct scientific knowledge in school context: the role of oral and written discourse. Instructional Science, 26, 359–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: a user’s manual. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  34. Newton, P., Driver, R., & Osborne, J. (1999). The place of argumentation in the pedagogy of school science. International Journal of Science Education, 21(5), 553–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Niaz, M., Aguilera, D., Maza, A., & Liendo, G. (2002). Arguments, contradictions, resistances, and conceptual change in students’ understanding of atomic structure. Science Education, 86, 505–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nussbaum, M., & Sinatra, G. (2003). Argument and conceptual engagement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 28, 384–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Osborne, J., Erduran, S., & Simon, S. (2004). Ideas, evidence and argument in science: in-service training pack, resource pack and video. London: Nuffield Foundation.Google Scholar
  38. Palmer, D. H. (2003). Investigating the relationship between refutational text and conceptual change. Science Education, 87, 663–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Patronis, T., Potari, D., & Spiliotopoulou, V. (1999). Students’ argumentation in decision-making on a socio-scientific issue: implications for teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 21(7), 745–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pera, M. (1994). The discourses of science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  41. Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W., & Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: toward a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66(2), 211–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rivard, L. P., & Straw, S. B. (2000). The effect of talk and writing on learning science: an exploratory study. Science Education, 84, 566–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sadler, T. D., & Fowler, S. R. (2006). A threshold model of content knowledge transfer for socioscientific argumentation. Science Education, 90, 986–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sampson, V., & Clark, D. B. (2008). Assessment of the ways students generate arguments in science education: current perspectives and recommendations for future directions. Science Education, 92, 447–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sampson, V., & Clark, D. B. (2009). The impact of collaboration on the outcomes of scientific argumentation. Science Education, 93, 448–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Savinainen, A., & Scott, P. (2002). The force concept inventory: a tool for monitoring student learning. Physics Education, 37(1), 45–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schafer, N. J., Hickey, D. T., Zuiker, S., Kruger, A. C., & Russell, H. A. (2003). Using videofeedback to facilitate classroom assessment conversation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, AprilGoogle Scholar
  48. Simon, S., Osborne, J., & Erduran, S. (2003). Systemic teacher development to enhance the use of argumentation in school science activities. In J. Wallace & J. Loughran (Eds.), Leadership and professional development in science education: new possibilities for enhancing teacher learning (pp. 198–217). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Toulmin, S. (1958). The uses of argument. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Toulmin, S. (1972). Human understanding: the collective use and evolution of concepts. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Wood, J. M. (2007). Understanding and computing Cohens Kappa: A tutorial. WebPsychEmpiricist. Available from Accessed 3 October 2007
  53. van Eemeren, F. H., Grootendorst, R., Henkemans, F. S., Blair, J. A., Johnson, R. H., Krabbe, E. C. W., Plantin, C., Walton, D. N., Willard, C. A., Woods, J., & Zarefsky, D. (1996). Fundamentals of argumentation theory: a handbook of historical backgrounds and contemporary developments. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  54. Veerman, A., Andriessen, J., & Kanselaar, G. (2002). Collaborative argumentation in academic education. Instructional Science, 30, 155–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. von Aufschnaiter, C., Erduran, S., Osborne, J., & Simon, S. (2007). Contributions from science education research. In R. Pinto & D. Couso (Eds.), Argumentation and the learning of science (pp. 377–388). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  56. 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
  57. Vosniadou, S. (1994). Capturing and modeling the process of conceptual change. Learning and Instruction, 4, 45–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Vosniadou, S., Ioannides, C., Dimitrakopoulou, A., & Papademetriou, E. (2001). Designing learning environments to promote conceptual change in science. Learning and Instruction, 11, 381–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zeidler, D. L. (1997). The central role of fallacious thinking in science education. Science Education, 81, 483–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 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 Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ataturk Egitim Fakultesi OFMA Eğitimi Bölümü Fizik Egitimi Anabilim DalıMarmara UniversitesiIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Vali Muammer Guler Anadolu Ogretmen Okulu, Buyuksehir C MahallesiIstanbulTurkey

Personalised recommendations