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Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Seah, L., H., & Azilawati Jamaludin. (2020). Investigative analysis and structured argumentation for seeding critical thinking and inquiry skills for the 21st century. National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
This project was undertaken with the aim of developing and testing a pedagogical innovation—the Integrative Approach to Structured Argumentation (IASA) instruction model—for teaching science at the Lower Secondary level. The IASA instructional model aligns with the goals of the current curricular mandate for school-based scientific inquiry by promoting the practice of scientific argumentation. Engaging science learners in argumentation provides the interactional space in the classroom for them to develop 21st century skills, such as critical thinking and reasoning. Employing design-based research, we collaborated with 6 teacher-participants from two schools. Across the two and a half years of our work, we ran iterative cycles of designing learning and teaching resources, enacting the pedagogy, analysing the outcomes of implementation, and progressively redesigning and refining based on these outcomes. The project has completed the development and testing of three argument-based learning tasks on the topics of Heat, Chemical Changes, and Ecology, which are now contained in the IASA Toolkit lesson package available for download from the IASA website. We have also completed the development and testing of the IASA Web App that supports students’ argumentation activities (student interface) and teachers’ logistical work for argumentation tasks (teacher interface). We analysed students’ written arguments and peer feedback with respect to normative practices for reasoned coordination and assessment of claims and evidence and conventions for representing scientific arguments. The results indicate students demonstrating, over multiple exposures to argumentation tasks, gradual improvement in appropriating, and increased awareness of, the criteria for good scientific argumentation. This promising outcome suggests that the adoption of the IASA instructional model in the Singapore context could begin to address reform calls for science teaching to: (1) emphasise not only conceptual instruction but also the enculturation of science learners in the epistemic practices of the scientific community and (2) support and develop scientific literacy through productive participation in reading, writing, and talking scientifically.
Note: Restricted to NIE Staff.
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Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP)
eduLab (eduLab-NRF)
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
National Research Foundation (NRF), Singapore
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