, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 225–243 | Cite as

What Students’ Arguments Can Tell Us: Using Argumentation Schemes in Science Education

  • Fabrizio Macagno
  • Aikaterini Konstantinidou


The relationship between teaching and argumentation is becoming a crucial issue in the field of education and, in particular, science education. Teaching has been analyzed as a dialogue aimed at persuading the interlocutors, introducing a conceptual change that needs to be grounded on the audience’s background knowledge. This paper addresses this issue from a perspective of argumentation studies. Our claim is that argumentation schemes, namely abstract patterns of argument, can be an instrument for reconstructing the tacit premises in students’ argumentative reasoning and retrieving the background beliefs that are the basis of their arguments. On this perspective, the process of premise reconstruction is followed by a heuristic reasoning process aimed at discovering the students’ previous intuitions that can explain the premises and concepts that are left unexpressed in their arguments. The theoretical insights advanced in this paper are illustrated through selected examples taken from activities concerning predictive claims on scientific issues.


Argumentation Education Argumentation schemes Persuasion Reasoning Conceptual change Prior beliefs Argument from cause Analogy 



Fabrizio Macagno would like to thank the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia for the research grant on Argumentation, Communication and Context (PTDC/FIL-FIL/110117/2009) that made this collaboration possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ArgLab, Instituto de Filosofia da Linguagem (IFL)FCSH, Universidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculty of Teacher TrainingUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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