Fostering Pedagogical Argumentation: Pedagogical Reasoning with and About Student Science Ideas

This project will use an iterative approach to design activities and supports that foster pedagogical argumentation for use in undergraduate teacher education courses. This project will examine: 1) whether and how PSTs engage in pedagogical argumentation and 2) whether and how this engagement impacts how they listen and respond to student ideas.

Full Description: 

Effective and ambitious teaching in science requires that teachers listen and respond to student ideas. But research shows that doing so in the classroom can be logistically, socially, and intellectually challenging for both expert and novice teachers. Listening to student ideas requires teachers to anticipate and interpret multiple lines of thinking that may be expressed ambiguously and simultaneously. Responding to student thinking, both in-the-moment and in future instruction, presents further challenges because teachers must balance their choices with other instructional priorities. Unfortunately, little work has been done to date in supporting these challenging practices in those who are learning to teach, pre-service teachers (PSTs). In order to address this gap, researchers in this Exploratory project will introduce a new approach to teacher education: pedagogical argumentation. Pedagogical argumentation creates a supportive environment in which the PSTs learn and refine these practices of listening and responding by using student ideas as evidence to construct and defend potential pedagogical decisions.

Over three years researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will use an iterative approach to design activities and supports that foster pedagogical argumentation for use in undergraduate teacher education courses. This project will examine: 1) whether and how PSTs engage in pedagogical argumentation and 2) whether and how this engagement impacts how they listen and respond to student ideas. Working with both elementary and secondary PSTs, researchers will probe and explore their changing listening and responding practices by: collecting records of pedagogical argumentation (both video and written) as it occurs in the science teaching methods courses; conducting interviews about PSTs understanding of student ideas; and documenting PSTs teaching experiences in their school placements.

The science teacher education community writ large is in need of systematic approaches to teacher education that better support PSTs in learning ambitious teaching practices such as listening and responding to student ideas. The proposed study addresses this need and, in doing so, will support both immediate PSTs in engaging in this work as well as the broader teacher education community as it struggles with these same challenges. Moreover, the novel practice of pedagogical argumentation advances the fields theoretical understanding of the problem space for supporting these challenges by combining insight from two extensive programs of research in teaching and learning: 1) teacher reasoning about student ideas, and 2) argumentation about science content. As such, the practice of pedagogical argumentation has the potential to transform how teacher educators approach pre-service education.