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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Kind, P.M., Kind, V., Hofstein, A. & Wilson, J. (2011). Peer Argumentation in the School Science Laboratory - Exploring effects of task features. International Journal of Science Education 33(18): 2527-2558.

Author(s) from Durham


Argumentation is believed to be a significant component of scientific inquiry: introducing these skills into laboratory work may be regarded as a goal for developing practical work in school science. This study explored the impact on the quality of argumentation among 12- to 13-year-old students undertaking three different designs of laboratory-based task. The tasks involved students collecting and making sense of complex data, collecting data to address conflicting hypotheses, and, in a paper-based activity, discussing pre-collected data about an experiment. Significant differences in the quality of argumentation prompted by the tasks were apparent. The paper-based task generated the most argumentation units per unit time. Where students carried out an experiment, argumentation was often brief, as reliance on their data was paramount. Measurements were given credence by frequency and regularity of collection, while possibilities for error were ignored. These data point to changes to existing practices being required in order to achieve authentic, argumentation-based scientific inquiry in school laboratory work.

School of Education