Scientific Argumentation in Earth System Science Education

Diane Schweizer Clayton, Catherine Gautier, Journal of Geoscience Educatoin

We investigate the merit of including deliberate instruction on argumentation and debate in an undergraduate Earth system science course. We examine sample student evaluations of arguments constructed by their peers during a classroom debate on Earth's climate system. Students participating in this exercise had, at a minimum, a baseline understanding of both global climate change and scientific argumentation. Three weeks of instruction were dedicated to global climate change and included an introduction to scientific argumentation. The objective of this exercise was to obtain a deeper understanding of how students use critical reasoning skills when assessing claims related to the global climate. Under the conditions studied, we found that while students invoked critical reasoning skills when assessing the relative strengths of opposing arguments, they often favored presentation style over content in their overall evaluation of the debate. Our finding suggests students be given ongoing practice in critically evaluating claims related to the global environment. [Description derived from article abstract.]

Subject: Education, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Climate Change
Resource Type: Pedagogic Resources:Research Results
Research on Learning: Geoscience Expertise:Complex Systems, Cognitive Domain, Affective Domain:Teaching Controversial Topics
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Climate Change