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The Structure of Discussions inteded to Promote Reasoning


by Clark A. Chinn & Richard C. Anderson 1998

Discussions featuring reasoned argumentation among students have the potential to increase students?motivation and to help students learn to reason well. This article analyzes the structure of the argumentative discourse produced when children discuss issues raised by stories they have read. Two complementary approaches are developed to represent the structure of the argumentation. The first approach, the argument network, represents argumentation within groups of students as an interlocking web of premises and conclusions. The second approach, the causal network, represents the argumentation primarily as events linked in a causally connected nar-rative sequence. We discuss implications of these two approaches for instruction and research. Argument networks and causal networks provide insights into how teachers and students can improve discussions, and they suggest instructional strategies that can promote the development of students?reasoning.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 100 Number 2, 1998, p. 315-368
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10314, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 9:48:38 AM

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About the Author
  • Clark Chinn
    Rutgers University
    Clark A. Chinn is assistant professor of educational psychology, Rutgers University. His research focuses on issues in knowledge acquisition and reasoning. His recent study of how students respond to anomalous data appeared in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (August 1998).
  • Richard Anderson
    University of Illinois
    Richard C. Anderson is director, Center for the Study of Reading, and professor of education and psychology, University of Illinois. He is interested in children's reading, including microanalysis of social cognitive facets of classroom reading lessons, story discussions that promote thinking, vocabulary growth, and independent reading.
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