Problem-based learning and argumentation: Testing a scaffolding framework to support middle school students' creation of evidence-based arguments

Brian R. Belland, Krista D. Glazewski, Jennifer C. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

Students engaged in problem-based learning (PBL) units solve ill-structured problems in small groups, and then present arguments in support of their solution. However, middle school students often struggle developing evidence-based arguments (Krajcik et al., J Learn Sci 7:313-350, 1998). Using a mixed method design, the researchers examined the use of computer-based argumentation scaffolds, called the Connection Log, to help middle school students build evidence-based arguments. Specifically we investigated (a) the impact of computer-based argumentation scaffolds on middle school students' construction of evidence-based arguments during a PBL unit, and (b) scaffold use among members of two small groups purposefully chosen for case studies. Data sources included a test of argument evaluation ability, persuasive presentation rating scores, informal observations, videotaped class sessions, and retrospective interviews. Findings included a significant simple main effect on argument evaluation ability among lower-achieving students, and use of the scaffolds by the small groups to communicate and keep organized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-694
Number of pages28
JournalInstructional Science
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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