Argumentation in Science Education

Volume 35 of the series Science & Technology Education Library pp 137-158

Analysis of Lines of Reasoning in Written Argumentation

  • Gregory J. KellyAffiliated with148 Chambers Building College of Education, The Pennsylvania State University
  • , Jacqueline RegevAffiliated with
  • , William ProtheroAffiliated withEarth Education Online and University of California Santa Barbara

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Written texts play an important role in the activity systems generating knowledge in professional and educational settings. Empirical studies of the social construction of scientific knowledge in scientific and school settings have identified a range of purposes, uses, and genres of written communication (Kelly & Chen, 1999; Knorr-Cetina, 1999). The persuasive discourse of written argument is one such type of written communication that has played a significant role in the development of scientific knowledge (Bazerman, 1988; Gross, 1990). As noted by Yore et al. (2006), written communication provides a means to articulate evidence, warrants, and claims; reflect on proposed ideas; critique the scientific work of others; and establish proprietorship of intellectual property. An important dimension of science learning is the ability to use, assess, and critique evidence (Hodson, 2003; Yore et al., 2003). This ability includes understanding the relationships among questions, data, and claims, as well as how these relationships can be organized to formulate evidence for a given task and audience (Wallace et al., 2004). While the use of evidence in reasoning is a noted goal of scientific inquiry, little research has focused on the difficulties students may have integrating data with text to formulate coherent arguments.