Argumentation and participation patterns in general chemistry peer-led sessions



This article focuses on the use of Toulmin's argumentation scheme to investigate the characteristics of student group argumentation in Peer-Led Guided Inquiry sessions for a General Chemistry I course. A coding scheme based on Toulmin's [Toulmin [1958] The uses of argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press] argumentation model was used for identifying arguments during group work without instructor intervention. A modification of the framework developed by Erduran et al. [Erduran, Simon, & Osborne [2004] Science Education, 88(6), 915–933] for characterizing arguments was employed that considered both the strength of the argument and whether an argument contained contributions from one or more than one student. Data were collected by video recording weekly peer-led sessions with a focus on two small groups. Analysis of this video data with the coding scheme and the framework revealed that students were mostly engaged in co-constructed arguments, with more than one student providing evidence and reasoning during group activities. Students often supported their claims with data and warrants but rarely offered backings. That is, they supported their answers with evidence and reasoning but did not often elaborate on their reasoning or further validate their explanations. However, the percentage of arguments containing backings increased when arguments contained contributions from more than one student rather than being presented by one individual. Another significant finding is that students were able to resolve wrong claims through argumentation without peer leader intervention, an indication of independent learning. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 50: 1207–1231, 2013