Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 285–309

Portraits of middle school students constructing evidence-based arguments during problem-based learning: the impact of computer-based scaffolds


DOI: 10.1007/s11423-009-9139-4

Cite this article as:
Belland, B.R. Education Tech Research Dev (2010) 58: 285. doi:10.1007/s11423-009-9139-4


A critical step in problem-based learning (PBL) units occurs when groups present their solution to the central problem. This is challenging for middle school students because it involves the creation of an evidence-based argument (Krajcik et al., Journal of the Learning Sciences 7:313–350, 1998). Using a mixed method design, this study investigated (a) the impact of computer-based argumentation scaffolds on middle school students’ argumentation ability, and (b) what middle school students used for support and why during a PBL unit. Data sources included persuasive presentation rating scores, argument evaluation ability test, videotaped class sessions, and prompted interviews. Results included a significant impact on average-achieving students’ argument evaluation ability, and use of the scaffolds by the small groups to plan their research and keep organized.


Evidence-based argumentsMiddle schoolScience educationComputer-based scaffoldsProblem-based learning

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Instructional Technology and Learning SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA