, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 217–233

Learning by Arguing About Evidence and Explanations



Collaborative learning with cases characteristically involves discussing and developing shared explanations. We investigated the argumentation scheme which learners use in constructing shared explanations over evidence. We observed medical students attempting to explain how a judge had arrived at his verdict in a case of medical negligence. The students were learning within a virtual learning environment and their communication was computer mediated. We identify the dialogue type that these learners construct and show that their argumentation conforms with an abductive form of argumentation scheme (‘inference to the best explanation’). We also assessed the students’ learning and propose that it is related to particular features of this argumentation scheme.


Collaborative learning Abductive reasoning Argumentation scheme 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer ScienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.ESRC National Centre for e-Social Science (NCeSS)University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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