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Argumentation in Singapore science teaching: What do teachers think?
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Cheong, W., & Osborne, J. (2014). Argumentation in Singapore science teaching: What do teachers think?. In Y. -J. Lee, N. T -L. Lim, K. S. Tan, H. E. Chu, P. Y. Lim, Y. H. Lim, & I. Tan (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Science Education Conference 2014 (pp. 279-315). Singapore: National Institute of Education.
Argumentation is increasingly recognized both as a central scientific practice and important
science pedagogy for critical thinking (CT) in students of all abilities. Although previous
research has investigated other aspects of critical thinking and Normal Technical [N(T)]
classes, little is known about what Singapore science teachers believe about using
argumentation for N(T) students and how this is related to their pedagogical beliefs. The
investigation aimed to find out how teachers' opinions of the effectiveness and their
likelihood of using argumentation varied depending on: the characteristics of possible
argumentation activities; whether these were correlated with the teachers' background; their
pedagogical preferences; the ways they preferred to interact with students; and the resource
support they received. 32 N(T) science teachers from 18 secondary schools responded to an
online research survey containing 14 argumentation-based activities of varying levels of argumentation, topic and question format. A moderate but significant overall difference was
found in teachers' perception of their pedagogical effectiveness and the likelihood of their use
for argumentation in N(T) compared to Express classes, regardless of argumentation level,
topic or question format. Teachers also perceived CT activities as the least suitable pedagogy
for N(T) classes. Teachers' experience, rapport with students, proportion of class time spent
on CT, and quality/sufficiency ofN(T) resources were significantly correlated with likelihood
of using argumentation. These findings potentially guide the introduction of argumentation
into Singapore science teaching, and highlight the importance of school support and teacherstudent
relationships in the process.
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