“Learning Science Is About Facts and Language Learning Is About Being Discursive”—An Empirical Investigation of Students' Disciplinary Beliefs in the Context of Argumentation

Frontiers in Psychology. 2017;8 DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00946

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Frontiers in Psychology

ISSN: 1664-1078 (Online)

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

LCC Subject Category: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion: Psychology

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, ePUB, XML

 

AUTHORS

Patricia Heitmann (Institute for Educational Quality Improvement (IQB), Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany)
Martin Hecht (Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany)
Ronny Scherer (Centre for Educational Measurement (CEMO), Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of OsloOslo, Norway)
Julia Schwanewedel (Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at Kiel University (IPN)Kiel, Germany)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 14 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Argumentation is considered crucial in numerous disciplines in schools and universities because it constitutes an important proficiency in peoples' daily and professional lives. However, it is unclear whether argumentation is understood and practiced in comparable ways across disciplines. This study consequently examined empirically how students perceive argumentation in science and (first) language lessons. Specifically, we investigated students' beliefs about the relevance of discourse and the role of facts. Data from 3,258 high school students from 85 German secondary schools were analyzed with multigroup multilevel structural equation modeling in order to disentangle whether or not differences in argumentation across disciplines exist and the extent to which variation in students' beliefs can be explained by gender and school track. Results showed that students perceived the role of facts as highly relevant for science lessons, whereas discursive characteristics were considered significantly less important. In turn, discourse played a central role in language lessons, which was believed to require less knowledge of facts. These differences were independent of students' gender. In contrast, school track predicted the differences in beliefs significantly. Our findings lend evidence on the existence of disciplinary school cultures in argumentation that may be the result of differences in teachers' school-track-specific classroom practice and education. Implications in terms of a teacher's role in establishing norms for scientific argumentation as well as the impact of students' beliefs on their learning outcomes are discussed.