Students’ use of justifications in socio-scientific argumentation

Anders Jönsson, Louise Rietz, Mats Lundström

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragSammanfattning (abstract)


The study aims to explore upper secondary school students’ written argumentation regarding a socioscientific issue (SSI). Focus lies on how students justify their claims. The data consists of student texts and was collected at the end of an intervention designed to develop skills related to high quality argumentation.

SSI has the potential to put science content into a meaningful and relevant context and also to prepare students for life as citizens in a democratic society. Results in studies focusing on students’ use of knowledge and values as support for their claims in argumentative activities show that students tend to base their arguments on values rather than knowledge. Students also have difficulties to construct arguments where claims and evidence connects to one another in a adequate way.

The intervention took place in a chemistry class in a Swedish upper secondary school. A number of 24 students (age 16-17) from the science-, and technology-major programs participated in the study. The intervention was performed in eight steps during five weeks where the students practiced argumentation in several different ways and studied the issue of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in every-day products. At the end of the intervention, the students had to take a stand in whether they would buy products containing PFAS.

The results show that after being taught about argumentation and the context surrounding the SSI, the students mainly based their arguments on content knowledge. This applies for both supporting-, and counter arguments. Value justifications are present in the students’ texts, but they constitute a smaller proportion. The justifications in the argumentative texts contain a great breadth of different subject areas, where chemistry knowledge plays an important role. This study shows that subject knowledge can constitute an important part in student argumentation.

StatusPublicerad - 2018
EvenemangXVIII. International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE) Symposium, Malmö -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan.-01 → …


KonferensXVIII. International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE) Symposium, Malmö
Period80-01-01 → …

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