The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation.
Making sense of argumentation and explanation†
Article first published online: 27 MAY 2008
Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 93, Issue 1, pages 26–55, January 2009
How to Cite
Berland, L. K. and Reiser, B. J. (2009), Making sense of argumentation and explanation. Sci. Ed., 93: 26–55. doi: 10.1002/sce.20286
- Issue published online: 5 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 27 MAY 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 APR 2008
- Manuscript Revised: 13 APR 2008
- Manuscript Received: 17 OCT 2007
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: ESI-0227557
- National Science Foundation. Grant Numbers: ESI-0101780, ESI-0439493
Constructing scientific explanations and participating in argumentative discourse are seen as essential practices of scientific inquiry (e.g., R. Driver, P. Newton, & J. Osborne, 2000). In this paper, we identify three goals of engaging in these related scientific practices: (1) sensemaking, (2) articulating, and (3) persuading. We propose using these goals to understand student engagement with these practices, and to design instructional interventions to support students. Thus, we use this framework as a lens to investigate the question: What successes and challenges do students face as they engage in the scientific practices of explanation and argumentation? We study this in the context of a curriculum that provides students and teachers with an instructional framework for constructing and defending scientific explanations. Through this analysis, we find that students consistently use evidence to make sense of phenomenon and articulate those understandings but they do not consistently attend to the third goal of persuading others of their understandings. Examining the third goal more closely reveals that persuading others of an understanding requires social interactions that are often inhibited by traditional classroom interactions. Thus, we conclude by proposing design strategies for addressing the social challenges inherent in the related scientific practices of explanation and argumentation. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed93:26–55, 2009