Learning and Justification during a Science Teaching Sequence

By Michael Skoumios and Vassilia Hatzinikita.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Two of the basic dimensions characterizing the quality of the dialogic argumentation developed by the pupils in the classroom is the content (i.e., the accuracy or adequacy of the various elements in the argument when they are evaluated from a school science knowledge perspective) and the grounds included in pupils’ comments (i.e., how ideas or claims are supported or validated within an argument). The present paper aims to investigate the content and the grounds included in pupils’ oral comments produced in their group discussions during a teaching sequence focused on the didactic elaboration of primary school pupils’ (aged 11-12) obstacles. In this direction, a teaching sequence was designed and implemented –among others, focused on pupils’ group discussions–, which successively aimed to destabilise, restructure and finally help pupils recognise obstacles regarding temperature and heat. Pupils’ oral comments were collected, analysed in relation to their content and grounds included, and were finally classified into levels. It emerged that while the teaching sequence is in progress, there is an increase in the percentage of pupils’ comments including grounds as well as in comments directed to school science knowledge, while at the same time there is a decrease in the respective percentages of comments not including grounds and in comments directed to conceptual obstacles. The above findings demonstrate that the didactic elaboration of obstacles contributes substantially to the development of pupils’ ability to structure high quality dialogic argumentation. In addition, the analysis of the comments revealed that the pupils who use evidence as grounds in order to support their claims tend to activate conceptions directed to school science knowledge, while the pupils formulating only claims tend to express conceptions directed to the obstacles. Consequently, during the didactic elaboration of conceptual obstacles, learning appears to be “falling in step with” the development of pupils’ justification ability.

Keywords: Science Learning, Dialogic Argumentation, Grounds, Conceptual Content, Didactic Elaboration of an Obstacle, Primary School, Group Discussion, Comments

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp.327-342. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.215MB).

Dr. Michael Skoumios

Researcher, Hellenic Open University, Rhodes, Patras, Greece

Dr. Michael Skoumios obtained a first degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 1987, a second degree in Education from the University of Aegean in 1992 and his PhD in Science Education from the Hellenic Open University in 2005. His research interests include science concept learning and teaching science in primary and secondary schools. He is currently teaching Science Education in the Department of Primary Education of the University of the Aegean (Greece).

Prof. Vassilia Hatzinikita

Academic Coordinator of the Master in Education, School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece

Associate Professor Vassilia Hatzinikita is currently an academic coordinator of the Master in Education in the Hellenic Open University and a coordinator of Educational Research in Action module. Her research interests concern science teaching and learning as well as the analysis and development of educational materials. She has published a considerable number of research papers in journals, books and conference proceedings and has developed educational material for the Science Education module of the Hellenic Open University.


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