2009, pp 91-126
Date: 22 May 2009

Argumentation and Learning

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Abstract

This chapter provides multiple perspectives on the intricate relations between argumentation and learning. Different approaches to learning impinge on the way argumentation is conceived of: as a powerful vehicle for reaching shared understanding, as a set of skills pertaining to critical reasoning, or as a tool for social positioning. Each perspective has harvested empirical studies that have stressed the importance of argumentation in learning. Methodological tools that fit the respective perspectives are reviewed. In spite of the pluralistic stance adopted, this chapter attempts to draw connections between the findings obtained in the different perspectives. In a separate part, it considers the specific role of argumentation in learning processes and outcomes for four subjects areas: in mathematics, studies are presented that show deep gaps between argumentation and proof. In science, experimental studies are reviewed to examine whether and how argumentation promotes conceptual change. In history, the chapter considers the role of argumentation in challenging narratives and in claiming a position. At last, we describe the new wave that characterizes civic education programs towards the instillation of argumentative practices in democratic citizenship.