The Epidemic Effect of Scaffolding Argumentation in Small Groups to Whole-Class Teacher-Led Argumentation

  • Baruch B. SchwarzEmail author
  • Irit Cohen
  • Yaakov Ophir


Small-group settings have been the object of intense research on their potential to boost cognitive development. Indeed, the quality of small-group discussions has led to impressive learning outcomes ranging from the promotion of critical thinking, to the promotion of social skills. Guidance is necessary, though. Research has shown that scaffolding—which is characterized by a progressive fading out, results in the appropriation of practices and norms instilled by the teacher to autonomous students in collaborative reasoning discussions. So far, research has focused on small groups taken out of the school, to the laboratory, and with instructors who are experts in their guidance. The following chapter presents a study in schools, in which working separately with small groups in consecutive activities, is part of the pedagogical approach. The teachers who participated in the study were inexperienced in scaffolding argumentation. The teachers participated in an 8-week long in-service program in which they reflected on their guidance of small-group discussions on texts around moral dilemmas. We show that the quality of guidance and of discussions progressively improved. We also show that these improvements have an epidemic effect in terms of both the guidance of the teacher and of the discussions in a whole-class context.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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