As mentioned previously, the fundamental skills for a scientist are: asking questions, making predictions, designing investigations, make focused observations, analysing data, supporting claims with evidence and debating the conclusions with other scientists. Debate, though last in this list, is something necessary for ensuring quality and accuracy in science. By challenging scientific discoveries and theories, through debate and argumentation, science, which is based on verifiable evidence, can progress and develop. Engaging in argumentation provides students with a better insight into the nature of scientific inquiry and the ways in which scientists work. It is a skill that also very useful in everyday life.
When teaching argumentation it is necessary to explicitly develop students’ ability to understand and practice scientifically valid ways of arguing, enabling them to recognise not only the strengths of scientific argument, but also its limitations. Argumentation needs to be practised with structured tasks where the teacher can scaffold the students’ development. Just giving students scientific or controversial socio-scientific issues to discuss will not prove sufficient to ensure the practice of valid argument (Simon et al., 2006).
To see how much argumentation you use at the moment with your class, please participate in this short quiz.
What is Evidence? What is Argument?
These activities examine how familiar you are with the evidence for some common ideas that are taught in science education and also to explores the term 'argument' in science and why it is a significant feature of science.
Osborne, Erduran and Simon (2004) have developed an in-service resource pack with ideas, evidence and argument in science with different types of activities to develop skills in constructing scientific arguments using evidence and engagement in activities that stimulate discussion.
Carry out Activity 1.1 & 1.2, Session 1, of the IDEAS In-service Materials
Resources & Files:
Activity 1.1 & 1.2, Session 1 , IDEAS In-service Materials