Research in Science Education

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 903–926 | Cite as

Decision Making Through Dialogue: a Case Study of Analyzing Preservice Teachers’ Argumentation on Socioscientific Issues

  • Mijung Kim
  • Robert Anthony
  • David Blades


Members of contemporary society are regularly confronted by claims in the public media about scientific discoveries that have important consequences for every level of life, from the global scale of planetary warming to local issues such as selecting “eco-friendly” lawn care products. Whatever the scope of the issue, the public is often faced with conflicting claims, each offering evidence to support their view. In order to disentangle competing views whether at the broad scale of public discussion of policy and regulation, or the local level of selecting a product to purchase, it is imperative that citizens develop habits of mind to critically evaluate and make decisions on such issues.

Most arguments in life are not characterized by the rules of formal logic in order to determine the truth or falseness of a proposition. Rather, most are informal arguments that exhibit a more fluid exchange of ideas where those involved attempt to appeal to one another in a variety of...


Dialogical argumentation Preservice teachers Socioscientific issues 



The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and acknowledge with gratitude the funding support for the research reported in this paper from Constructivist Education Resources Network (CER-Net), Faculty of Education, University of Victoria.


  1. Abd-Al-Khalick, F., & Lederman, N. (2000). Improving science teachers’ conceptions of the nature of science: a critical review of the literature. International Journal of Science Education, 22(7), 665–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Driver, R., Newton, P., & Osborne, J. (2000). Establishing the norms of scientific argumentation in classrooms. Science Education, 84(2), 287–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Duschl, R. (2007). Quality argumentation and epistemic criteria. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 159–175). The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Duschl, R., & Osborne, J. (2002). Supporting and promoting argumentation discourse in science education. Studies in Science Education, 38(1), 39–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eggert, S., & Bögeholz, S. (2010). Students’ use of decision-making strategies with regard to socioscientific issues: an application of the Rasch partial credit model. Science Education, 94, 230–258.Google Scholar
  6. Erduran, S. (2007). Methodological foundations in the study of argumentation in science classrooms. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 47–70). The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Erduran, S., Simon, S., & Osborne, J. (2004). TAPing into argumentation: developments in the application of Toulmin’s argument pattern for studying science discourse. Science Education, 88(6), 915–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Godemann, J. (2008). Knowledge integration: a key challenge for transdisciplinary cooperation. Environmental Education Research, 14(6), 625–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Halverson, K., Siegel, M., & Freyermuth, S. (2009). Lenses for framing decisions: undergraduates’ decision making about stem cell research. International Journal of Science Education, 31(9), 1249–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hmielowski, J., Feldman, L., Myers, T., Leiserowitz, A., & Maibach, E. (2013). An attack on science? Media use, trust in scientists, and perceptions of global warming. Public Understanding of Science. doi: 10.1177/0963662513480091
  11. Irez, S. (2006). Are we prepared? An assessment of preservice science teacher educators’ beliefs about nature of science. Science Education, 90(6), 1113–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jimenez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Erduran, S. (2007). Argumentation in science education: an overview. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 3–27). The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kim, M., & Tan, A.-L. (2011). Rethinking difficulties of teaching inquiry-based practical work: stories from elementary pre-service teachers. International Journal of Science Education, 33(4), 465–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. King, K., Shumow, L., & Lietz, S. (2001). Science education in an urban elementary school: case studies of teacher beliefs and classroom practices. Science Education, 85(2), 89–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klein, J. T. (2004). Prospects for transdisciplinarity. Futures, 36(4), 515–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuhn, D. (1993). Science as argument: implications for teaching and learning scientific thinking. Science Education, 77(3), 319–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: language, learning and values. New York: Ablex.Google Scholar
  18. Macagno, F., & Konstantinidou, A. (2013). What students’ arguments can tell us: using argumentation schemes in science education. Argumentation, 27(3), 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mercer, N., Dawes, L., Wegerif, R., & Sams, C. (2004). Reasoning as a scientist: ways of helping children to use language to learn science. British Educational Research Journal, 30(3), 359–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mikulak, A. (2011). Mismatches between ‘scientific’ and ‘non-scientific’ ways of knowing and their contributions to public understanding of science. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 45(2), 201–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nielsen, J. A. (2013). Dialectical features of students’ argumentation: a critical review of argumentation studies in science education. Research in Science Education, 43, 371–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nussbaum, E. M. (2011). Argumentation, dialogue theory, and probability modeling: alternative frameworks for argumentation research in education. Educational Psychology, 46(2), 84–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Osborne, J., Erduran, S., & Simon, S. (2004). Enhancing the quality of argumentation in school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(10), 994–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Polk, M., & Knutsson, P. (2008). Participation, value rationality and mutual learning in transdisciplinary knowledge production for sustainable development. Environmental Education Research, 14(6), 643–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ramadier, T. (2004). Transdisciplinarity and its challenges: the case of urban studies. Futures, 36(4), 423–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ramana, M. V. (2011). Nuclear power and the public. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 67(4), 43–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Resnik, D. (2011). Scientific research and the public trust. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(3), 399–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Roberts, D., & Gott, S. (2010). Questioning the evidence for a claim in a socio-scientific issue: an aspect of scientific literacy. Research in Science & Technological Education, 28(3), 203–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sadler, T. D. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: a critical review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sampson, V., & Clark, D. B. (2008). Assessment of the ways students generate arguments in science education: current perspectives and recommendations for future directions. Science Education, 92(3), 447–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Scott, A. (2001). Technological risk, scientific advice and public ‘education’: groping for an adequate language in the case of GM foods. Environmental Education Research, 7(2), 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Scott, C., & Hofmeyer, A. (2007). Acknowledging complexity: critically analyzing context to understand interdisciplinary research. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 21(5), 491–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Siegel, H. (1995). Why should educators care about argumentation? Informal Logic, 17, 159–176.Google Scholar
  34. Simon, S. (2008). Using Toulmin’s argument pattern in the evaluation of argumentation in school science. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 31(3), 277–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Song, Y., & Ferretti, R. (2013). Teaching critical questions about argumentation through the revising process: effects of strategy instruction on college students’ argumentative essays. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 26(1), 67–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Toulmin, S. (1958/2003). The uses of argument. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. van Eemeren, F. H., Grootendorst, R., Henkemans, F. S., Blair, J. A., Johnson, R. A., Krabbe, E. C. W., & Zarefsky, D. (1996). Fundamentals of argumentation theory. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Walton, D. (1996). Argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  39. Walton, D. (2001). Abductive, presumptive and plausible arguments. Informal Logic, 21(2), 141–169.Google Scholar
  40. Walton, D. (2006). Fundamentals of critical argumentation. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Walton, D. (2008). A dialogical theory of presumption. Artificial Intelligence Law, 16(2), 209–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walton, D., Reed, C., & Macagno, F. (2008). Argumentation schemes. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zeidler, D., Walker, K., Ackett, W., & Simmons, M. (2002). Tangled up in views: beliefs in the nature of science and responses to socioscientific dilemmas. Science Education, 86(3), 343–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zierhofer, W., & Burger, P. (2007). Disentangling transdisciplinarity: an analysis of knowledge integration in problem-oriented research. Science Studies, 20(1), 51–74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations