Teachers' framing of argumentation goals: Working together to develop individual versus communal understanding

For students to meaningfully engage in science practices, substantive changes need to occur to deeply entrenched instructional approaches, particularly those related to classroom discourse. Because teachers are critical in establishing how students are permitted to interact in the classroom, it is imperative to examine their role in fostering learning environments in which students carry out science practices. This study explores how teachers describe, or frame, expectations for classroom discussions pertaining to the science practice of argumentation. Specifically, we use the theoretical lens of a participation framework to examine how teachers emphasize particular actions and goals for their students' argumentation. Multiple‐case study methodology was used to explore the relationship between two middle school teachers' framing for argumentation, and their students' engagement in an argumentation discussion. Findings revealed that, through talk moves and physical actions, both teachers emphasized the importance of students driving the argumentation and interacting with peers, resulting in students engaging in various types of dialogic interactions. However, variation in the two teachers' language highlighted different purposes for students to do so. One teacher explained that through these interactions, students could learn from peers, which could result in each individual student revising their original argument. The other teacher articulated that by working with peers and sharing ideas, classroom members would develop a communal understanding. These distinct goals aligned with different patterns in students' argumentation discussion, particularly in relation to students building on each other's ideas, which occurred more frequently in the classroom focused on communal understanding. The findings suggest the need to continue supporting teachers in developing and using rich instructional strategies to help students with dialogic interactions related to argumentation. This work also sheds light on the importance of how teachers frame the goals for student engagement in this science practice.

González-Howard, M. & McNeill, K. L. (2019). Teachers' framing of argumentation goals: Working together to develop individual versus communal understanding. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.