Strategies to Support Student Argument and Argumentative Writing in a Secondary STEM Classroom
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AbstractArgumentation is a critical goal of today’s schools as a way to develop rational citizens who can critique the validity claims about phenomenon in society and the natural world. This work reviews current educational research about the best practices when it comes to teaching and using argumentation in STEM disciplines. As a result of this literature review, three strategies are identified and implemented in a secondary STEM classroom to determine their impact. The specific strategies used to support argumentation were a clear argument structure, collaborative discourse, and engaging, inquiry based tasks. While the sample size is small, the literature review and this action-research suggest that these strategies are successful in strengthening students’ written arguments.
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Achieving Conceptual Change Using a Differentiated Instructional ApproachYounkyeong, Nam; Veronesi, Peter; Chmielowiec, Elena R.; State University of New York College at Brockport (2016-06-29)Currently, the way that science education is implemented in our schools is inadequate for enabling students to understand abstract science and all of the misconceptions that surround complicated topics, specifically in astronomy (Cil, 2014). Simply taking notes doesn’t allow the student or teacher to discover or correct these misconceptions. There must be novel lesson teaching approaches that educators may take in order to explore and correct misconceptions, ultimately achieving conceptual change. Teachers must take into account who they are teaching. When students enter the classroom, they each have different skills, experiences and interests. It is the teacher’s responsibility to adapt the content and learning environment to these unique learners (Carver, 2010). Unique approaches to discover these skills and interests, as well as current misconceptions must be implemented in the classroom or the educator will not know how to cater each lesson to their individual students. Conceptual change, or correcting a misconception, in a students’ mind is considered to be an evolutionary process. This occurs when a change may occur in a certain topic over time with multiple experiences. During the process of conceptual change in the classroom, other influences such as the individual’s beliefs, motivational needs, learning attitudes, and situational and cultural contexts need to be taken into consideration (Hobson, 2010). A differentiated instructional approach should be considered in the modern classroom. It is important to include different modalities for student learning, which could potentially benefit all types of learners as each student is unique. There are many ways for an educator to go about incorporating differentiated instruction into conceptual change lessons.
Authentic Topics as Organizers for InstructionHoppe, Katherine; Moulton, Cassandra M.; The College at Brockport (2012-12-14)Context based approaches including STS, STSE, and SSI instruction have the potential to promote student content knowledge, deepen student understanding of the nature of science tenants, strengthen student argumentation skills, and promote student motivation and interest in science. This capstone project is a compilation of forty meaningful, curriculum generated science topics, which can be used as a foundation for designing lessons that incorporate strategies to promote written or verbal argumentation in living environment courses. The topics were selected such that their implementation would not significantly disrupt the existing organization of science content within a district curriculum. The project demonstrates the potential for context based approaches including STS, STSE, and SSI to be used in courses where science content to be taught is dictated by state standards and a major reorganization of the curriculum is not possible.
The Use of Argumentation in Socio-Scientific Issues: Enhancing Evolutionary Biology InstructionYounkyeong, Nam; Marchand, Heath R.; The College at Brockport (2015-08-15)With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), further emphasis in science education is being placed on preparing students to become more informed voters regarding social, ethical, economic and political topics that affect contemporary society. Parallel to this shift is a stronger emphasis on integrating evolutionary theory as a unifying concept in the biological sciences. Given that evolution is one of the aforementioned topics commonly discussed and debated about in social and political arenas, ensuring that instruction provides students from all backgrounds a comprehensive understanding of its principals is becoming increasingly important in contemporary science education. Chapter II of this project functions as a review of contemporary literature that will be utilized to help determine the best methodology for enhancing instruction and comprehension of prominent Socio-Scientific Issues (SSI) like evolution. Literature suggests that using argumentation to engage students in socially controversial scientific content may enhance comprehension and retention of material. More specifically, since evolution is a SSI that is often perceived by some to challenge individuals’ religious and ethical beliefs, engaging students in the content is often difficult using traditional methods that do not allow alternative, non-scientific ideologies to be incorporated. Therefore, it is suggested that the incorporation of a data driven, formal argumentation that allows students the option to argue either for or against evolution may serve to increase the level of engagement of the student body as a whole in evolutionary content. Chapter III of this project is a unit planned designed to incorporate data driven SSI argumentation into an evolutionary context. Through the use of five case studies, students will be introduced to the raw data that is used by evolutionary biologists to support evolutionary theory. Using these activities, students will collaboratively analyze the data, and be asked to decide individually whether to use it to support evolutionary theory or creationism. Subsequently, the formal argumentation piece is designed to engage all students in active argumentation using debate questions related to each case study.