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Problem-based learning and argumentation: testing a scaffolding framework to support middle school students’ creation of evidence-based arguments

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Abstract

Students engaged in problem-based learning (PBL) units solve ill-structured problems in small groups, and then present arguments in support of their solution. However, middle school students often struggle developing evidence-based arguments (Krajcik et al., J Learn Sci 7:313–350, 1998). Using a mixed method design, the researchers examined the use of computer-based argumentation scaffolds, called the Connection Log, to help middle school students build evidence-based arguments. Specifically we investigated (a) the impact of computer-based argumentation scaffolds on middle school students’ construction of evidence-based arguments during a PBL unit, and (b) scaffold use among members of two small groups purposefully chosen for case studies. Data sources included a test of argument evaluation ability, persuasive presentation rating scores, informal observations, videotaped class sessions, and retrospective interviews. Findings included a significant simple main effect on argument evaluation ability among lower-achieving students, and use of the scaffolds by the small groups to communicate and keep organized.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Drs. Peg Ertmer and Brian French for their many helpful comments on this research.

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Correspondence to Brian R. Belland.

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See Table 5.

Table 5 Persuasive presentation rating rubric

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Belland, B.R., Glazewski, K.D. & Richardson, J.C. Problem-based learning and argumentation: testing a scaffolding framework to support middle school students’ creation of evidence-based arguments. Instr Sci 39, 667–694 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-010-9148-z

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