The Role of the Teacher in Promoting Argumentative Interactions in the Learning Contexts of Higher Education

  • Antonio Bova


This study centers on the learning context of higher education and sets out to examine the types of questions used by the teacher with their students during regular lessons. The aim is to bring to light the strict relationship between the types of questions asked by the teacher and the beginning and development of argumentative disciplinary discussions in the classroom, i.e., task-related discussions concerning the discipline taught in the course. The data corpus is composed of 16 video-recorded separate lessons of one graduate-level course in Developmental Psychology. The results of this study indicate that the teacher during disciplinary discussions in the classroom asked to her graduate students SPECIFIC QUESTIONS, i.e., questions that refer to a specific theory or to a certain aspect of a theory in the field of Developmental Psychology, more often than BROAD QUESTIONS, i.e., questions that refer to broad topics in the field of Developmental Psychology. In particular, the BROAD QUESTIONS were typically used in an initial phase of the discussion, having the scope to promote the beginning of an argumentative discussion with and among students on the topic discussed during the lesson. On the other hand, the SPECIFIC QUESTIONS were typically asked by the teacher after the BROAD QUESTIONS and when the argumentative discussion was started, and the students had already advanced their opposite standpoints. Interestingly, in the corpus, only the SPECIFIC QUESTIONS favored the use of arguments based on scientific notions and theories by students, while the arguments used by students to answer to the BROAD QUESTIONS asked by their teacher were in most cases based on common knowledge or their personal experience.



This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation under Grant number P2TIP1_148347.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università della Svizzera italianaLuganoSwitzerland

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