SUPPORTING COMPUTER-SUPPORTED ARGUMENTATIVE KNOWLEDGE CONSTRUCTION IN MULTI-DISCIPLINARY GROUPS OF LEARNERS
Learning to argue is an essential objective in education and the ability to argue is a key skill in approaching complex problems as well as in collecting observational data and applying rules of formal logic. In the last 15 years, online support systems for argumentation in which learners argue in teams have been found to support the sharing, constructing and representing of arguments in multiple formats. Orchestration of argumentation and discussion in online learning environments in what has been named Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) builds on multiple representations and instructional interventions. External representations such as computer support can foster interaction and discussion of collaborating partners and also argumentation only implicitly. Argumentative knowledge construction is one of the most prominent scenarios in online collaborative learning environments that have been subjects of interest to many scholars in the domain of education and educational research. In argumentative knowledge construction, learners are supposed to build arguments and support a position, to consider and weigh arguments and counter-arguments, to test, enlighten, and clarify their uncertainties, to elaborate the learning material, and thus acquire knowledge and achieve understanding about complex ill-structured problems. An important question for research in CSCL is how argumentative collaboration scripts can be designed to facilitate argumentative discourse activities in such a way to also promote cognitive elaboration of the learning material for acquiring domain-specific knowledge and knowledge on argumentation. Lately, various CSCL scripts have been designed to facilitate specific process categories of argumentative knowledge construction e.g. construction of single arguments and construction of argumentation sequences both of which will be discussed below. Facilitating argumentative knowledge construction may, therefore, not only be a question of how to support argumentative discourse activities, but also a question of how to shape argumentative structure using argumentative collaboration scripts for enhanced domain-specific knowledge acquisition. In doing so, current empirical study used a set of transactive argumentation script to hopefully facilitate both process and outcome categories of argumentative knowledge construction in a new content area within the context of multi-disciplinary learners in CSCL. The design of this transactive argumentation script builds on and modifies the coding scheme from Berkowitz and Gibbs (1983) that provide an extensive categorization of transactive contributions which have been regarded as important tool for learning. The results showed that the question prompts for argumentation analysis (making analyses of the partners’ arguments) and paraphrasing them into pre-structured boxes i.e. claim, grounds, and qualifications improve learners’ argumentative structure during online discussion as well as knowledge acquisition as the final product. Explanations for these results, educational implications and suggestions for future research are provided.