, 23:469 | Cite as

Argumentation in School Science: Breaking the Tradition of Authoritative Exposition Through a Pedagogy that Promotes Discussion and Reasoning

  • Shirley Simon
  • Katherine Richardson


The value of argumentation in science education has become internationally recognised and has been the subject of many research studies in recent years. Successful introduction of argumentation activities in learning contexts involves extending teaching goals beyond the understanding of facts and concepts, to include an emphasis on cognitive and metacognitive processes, epistemic criteria and reasoning. The authors focus on the difficulties inherent in shifting a tradition of teaching from one dominated by authoritative exposition to one that is more dialogic, involving small-group discussion based on tasks that stimulate argumentation. The paper focuses on how argumentation activities have been designed in school science. Examples of classroom dialogue where teachers adopt the frameworks/plans are analysed to show how argumentation processes are scaffolded. The analysis shows that several layers of interpretation are needed and these layers need to be aligned for successful implementation.


Argumentation Science education Reasoning Dialogic Classification Professional development Teaching resources 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Enterprise, Mathematics and Science, Faculty of Culture and Pedagogy, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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