Bridging the Gender Gap of Children’s Engagement in Learning Science and Argumentation Through a Modified Argument-Driven Inquiry

  • Hsiang-Ting Chen
  • Hsin-Hui Wang
  • Ying-Yan Lu
  • Zuway-R Hong


This quasi-experimental mixed-methods design examined the effects of a Modified Argument-Driven Inquiry (MADI) on elementary school boys’ and girls’ engagement in learning science (ELS) and performance of argumentation. Thirty-two children were randomly selected to participate in a two-semester 24-h intervention, forming an experimental group (EG, 13 boys, 19 girls); another 36 children were also randomly selected from the same two schools as a comparison group (CG, 20 boys, 16 girls). All participants completed pretest and posttest at the beginning and 1 month after each semester’s intervention. A well-structured student questionnaire was used to assess the participants’ ELS and quality of argumentation. In addition, four target children with the highest or the lowest scores on pretest were purposively recruited for weekly classroom observations and two-wave interviews for triangulation and consolidation of quantitative findings. The results from the repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the EG boys and girls made significant and continuous improvement in the quality of argumentation from the first to the second semesters. In contrast, the CG girls presented significantly lower scores than the boy counterparts. In addition, the results of the ANCOVA measures indicated that the EG girls of high engagement made a significant improvement in the quality of argumentation than the girls of low engagement. This study provides a fresh insight to support the use of a MADI intervention as an effective strategy for improving girls’ continuous ELS and high quality of argumentation.


Argumentation Elementary school children Engagement in learning science Gender differences Modified Argument-Driven Inquiry 



The authors are thankful for the support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan with the grant number of MOST 105-2511-S-110-002-MY3.

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hsiang-Ting Chen
    • 1
  • Hsin-Hui Wang
    • 1
  • Ying-Yan Lu
    • 1
  • Zuway-R Hong
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.National Sun Yat-sen UniversityKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  2. 2.KaohsiungRepublic of China

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