, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 127-153

Learning of argumentation skills in networked and face-to-face environments

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Abstract

In a teaching experiment 16 face-to-face and 11 e-mailFinnish university students studied academic debatingin an argumentation course. The 19 students of thecontrol group did not engage in the course. The courseinvolved two lectures, exercises with argumentativetexts, and face-to-face or e-mail seminar discussionsbased on these texts. Free debate, role play,problem-solving and panel discussion were the devicesused in organizing the course. The level of thestudents' argumentation skills were measured in apretest before the course and in a post-test after it.The results were compared between and within thegroups. The results indicated that during the e-mailstudies the students learned to identify and chooserelevant grounds, while the face-to-face studentsimproved in putting forward counterargumentation. Thecontrol group did not improve in these skills. Thestudy suggests that argumentation skills can bepromoted by short-term e-mail and face-to-faceteaching, and that practising argumentation indifferent learning environments develops differentkinds of argumentation skills.