For students to meaningfully engage in science practices, substantive changes need to occur to deeply entrenched instructional approaches, particularly those related to classroom discourse. Because teachers are critical in establishing how students are permitted to interact in the classroom, it is imperative to examine their role in fostering learning environments in which students carry out science practices. This study explores how teachers describe, or frame, expectations for classroom discussions pertaining to the science practice of argumentation. Specifically, we use the theoretical lens of a participation framework to examine how teachers emphasize particular actions and goals for their students' argumentation. Multiple‐case study methodology was used to explore the relationship between two middle school teachers' framing for argumentation, and their students' engagement in an argumentation discussion. Findings revealed that, through talk moves and physical actions, both teachers emphasized the importance of students driving the argumentation and interacting with peers, resulting in students engaging in various types of dialogic interactions. However, variation in the two teachers' language highlighted different purposes for students to do so. One teacher explained that through these interactions, students could learn from peers, which could result in each individual student revising their original argument. The other teacher articulated that by working with peers and sharing ideas, classroom members would develop a communal understanding. These distinct goals aligned with different patterns in students' argumentation discussion, particularly in relation to students building on each other's ideas, which occurred more frequently in the classroom focused on communal understanding. The findings suggest the need to continue supporting teachers in developing and using rich instructional strategies to help students with dialogic interactions related to argumentation. This work also sheds light on the importance of how teachers frame the goals for student engagement in this science practice.
Recent education reform efforts have included an increasing push for school science to better mirror authentic scientific endeavor, including a focus on science practices. However, despite expectations that all students engage in these language‐rich practices, little prior research has focused on how such opportunities will be created for English‐learning students. This case study uses the conceptual framework of communities of practice to investigate the relationship between English‐learning students' argumentation and their middle school sheltered English immersion (SEI) science classroom community. Considering various aspects of this conceptual framework—including the role of legitimate peripheral participation, as well as the degree to which community members' goals and expectations around the practice of interest align—allowed us to identify classroom characteristics that both hindered and facilitated students' opportunities to engage in argumentation. First, the classroom community, and consequently the presence and quality of argumentative discourse, was influenced by student movement in and out of this classroom, as their English proficiencies improved. The constantly changing class roster made it difficult for newer members to watch, learn, and engage in argumentation with more knowledgeable peers. Furthermore, certain elements of the SEI approach, namely its deductive nature, conflicted with the type of instruction necessary to encourage language use for sensemaking. However, this instructional context also offered English‐learning students with affordances they may not find in other educational settings. Specifically, we found that when students worked in smaller group structures, such as pairs, and they utilized both their native and second language as a linguistic resource for engaging in science discourse, their engagement in argumentation was promoted. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 53: 527–553, 2016
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Research in Science Teaching
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 527-553
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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