This research was conducted as part of the Urban EcoLab project.
Scientific discourse in three urban classrooms: The role of the teacher in engaging high school students in argumentation†
Article first published online: 27 AUG 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 94, Issue 2, pages 203–229, March 2010
How to Cite
McNeill, K. L. and Pimentel, D. S. (2010), Scientific discourse in three urban classrooms: The role of the teacher in engaging high school students in argumentation. Sci. Ed., 94: 203–229. doi: 10.1002/sce.20364
Any opinions expressed in this work are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent either those of the funding agency or Boston College.
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2010
- Article first published online: 27 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 JUN 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 7 JUN 2009
- Manuscript Received: 8 JAN 2009
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: ESI 0607010
Argumentation is a core practice of science and has recently been advocated as an essential goal of science education. Our research focuses on the discourse in urban high school science classrooms in which the teachers used the same global climate change curriculum. We analyzed transcripts from three teachers' classrooms examining both the argument structure as well the dialogic interactions between students. Between 19% and 35% of the discourse focused on scientific argumentation in that students were using evidence and reasoning to justify their claims. Yet in terms of dialogic interactions, only one teacher's classroom was characterized by student-to-student interactions and students explicitly supporting or refuting the ideas presented by their peers. This teacher's use of open questions appeared to encourage students to construct and justify their claims using both their scientific and everyday knowledge. Furthermore, her explicit connections to previous students' comments appeared to encourage students to consider multiple views, reflect on their thinking and reflect on the thinking of their classmates. This study suggests that a teacher's use of open-ended questions may play a key role in supporting students in argumentation in terms of both providing evidence and reasoning for students' claims and encouraging dialogic interactions between students. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed94:203–229, 2010