Second International Handbook of Science Education

Volume 24 of the series Springer International Handbooks of Education pp 1001-1015


Argumentation, Evidence Evaluation and Critical Thinking

  • María Pilar Jiménez-AleixandreAffiliated withDidactica das Ciencias Experimentais, University of Santiago de Compostela Email author 
  • , Blanca PuigAffiliated withDidactica das Ciencias Experimentais, University of Santiago de Compostela

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This chapter addresses the relationships between argumentation and critical thinking. The underlying questions are how argumentation supports the capacity to discriminate between claims justified by evidence and mere opinion, and how argumentation can contribute to two types of objectives related to learning science and to citizenship. First, various meanings for critical thinking in different communities are reviewed. Then, we propose our characterisation of critical thinking, which assumes that evidence evaluation is an essential component, but that there are other components related to the capacities of reflecting on the world around us and of participating in it (e.g. developing an independent opinion, including challenging the ideas of one’s own community). This characterisation draws both from the notion of commitment to evidence and from critical theorists. Using this frame, the chapter examines the contributions of argumentation in science education to the components of critical thinking, and also discusses the evaluation of evidence and the different factors influencing or even hampering it. The chapter concludes with consideration of the development of critical thinking in the science classroom.


Argumentation Critical thinking Critical theory Epistemic practices Evidence