Sibel Erduran and Jonathan Osborne
In recent years, international policy documents (for example, Department for Education and Employment 1999; National Research Council 2000) have promoted the notion that the teaching of science should accomplish much more than simply detailing what we know in science. Of growing importance in science education is the need to educate students about how we know and why we believe in certain claims (Driver et al. 1996). The shift from what we know to how we know requires a renewed focus on how science education can promote students' skills in justifying explanations. Put another way, the learning of argumentation (Toulmin 1958) has emerged as a significant educational goal.
The account made is that argumentation, that is, the coordination of evidence and theory to support or refute an explanatory conclusion, model or prediction (Suppe 1998) is a critically important discourse process in science. Situating argumentation as a central element in the learning of sciences has two functions: one is as a heuristic to engage learners in the coordination of conceptual and epistemic goals; and the other is to make students' scientific thinking and reasoning visible to enable formative assessment by teachers. From this perspective, epistemic goals are not additional extraneous aspects of science to be marginalized to single lessons or the periphery of the curriculum. Rather, striving for epistemic goals such as developing, evaluating and revising scientific arguments represent essential elements of any contemporary science education.
In this chapter we will briefly review the literature on argumentation in science education. Here, our purpose is to contextualize the role of argumentation in science learning and teaching as well as to illustrate the potential that argumentation, as a pedagogical strategy, can enhance science learning. Second, we will turn our
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Publication information: Book title: Analysing Exemplary Science Teaching: Theoretical Lenses and a Spectrum of Possibilities for Practice. Contributors: Steve Alsop - Editor, Larry Bencze - Editor, Erminia Pedretti - Editor. Publisher: Open University Press. Place of publication: Maidenhead, England. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 106.
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