Facilitating argumentative knowledge construction with computer-supported collaboration scripts


Online discussions provide opportunities for learners to engage in argumentative debate, but learners rarely formulate well-grounded arguments or benefit individually from participating in online discussions. Learners often do not explicitly warrant their arguments and fail to construct counterarguments (incomplete formal argumentation structure), which is hypothesized to impede individual knowledge acquisition. Computer-supported scripts have been found to support learners during online discussions. Such scripts can support specific discourse activities, such as the construction of single arguments, by supporting learners in explicitly warranting their claims or in constructing specific argumentation sequences, e.g., argument–counterargument sequences, during online discussions. Participation in argumentative discourse is seen to promote both knowledge on argumentation and domain-specific knowledge. However, there have been few empirical investigations regarding the extent to which computer-supported collaboration scripts can foster the formal quality of argumentation and thereby facilitate the individual acquisition of knowledge. One hundred and twenty (120) students of Educational Science participated in the study with a 2×2-factorial design (with vs. without script for the construction of single arguments and with vs. without script for the construction of argumentation sequences) and were randomly divided into groups of three. Results indicated that the collaboration scripts could improve the formal quality of single arguments and the formal quality of argumentation sequences in online discussions. Scripts also facilitated the acquisition of knowledge on argumentation, without affecting the acquisition of domainspecific knowledge

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