Argument to Foster Scientific Literacy: A Review of Argument Interventions in K–12 Science Contexts

Sep. 10, 2010

Source: Review of Educational Research, 80(3): 336-371. (September 2010).

The goal of scientific literacy has led to a steady increase in argument-based interventions in science education contexts.

This study of 54 articles from the research literature examines how argument interventions promote scientific literacy.

Articles were classified across three domains to determine structural patterns of the various argument interventions:
(a) the nature of the argument activity,
(b) the emphasis of the argument activity,
and (c) the aspects of science included in the argument activity.

The structures of the interventions suggest that researchers approach learning of argument through immersion, teaching the structure of argument, and emphasizing the interaction of science and society. Immersion-oriented interventions utilized argument as an integrated component to student investigations. Argument structure interventions taught the structure of argument separate from investigations and asked students to apply it across various explanatory activities. Science- and society-based interventions used socioscientific issues to contextualize and provide purpose for argument.

The three orientations toward argument instruction are discussed in light of the epistemic nature of science and scientific literacy. The orientations can serve as an opportunity to refine understanding of argument interventions, particularly with regard to the pursuit of scientific literacy.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2011