Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Malcolm Pringle, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background. Civil argumentation is critical to the discourse of a literate and functioning society; evidence-based argumentation is the key practice with which we build the social construct that is Science. The Evidence-Based Argumentation (EBA) School-wide Initiative of the Boston Debate League is a professional development program that helps teachers across all disciplines create classroom environments where students own their learning and regularly practice 21stcentury learning skills of critical thinking & problem solving; analysis & critiquing; communicating & collaborating; and, questioning & innovating, all within the framework of constructing their own arguments. The Initiative is not a prescribed curriculum, but a set of tools that teachers integrate into their existing curriculum. Central to the Initiative is enhancing teacher collaboration across the curriculum, within grade level and along vertically integrated teams, and across the EBA network. Now five years old and growing, the EBA Initiative has been hindered by the lack of robust assessment tools to measure and test growth in student skill and teacher practice. Methods. We believe that classroom practitioners are best equipped to: develop and implement student assessments tools; use those assessments to inform their own classroom instruction; and, collaborate with colleagues to use those assessments to inform team goals and instructional practice. We sent a team to the 2016 Teach-to-Lead Summit in Minneapolis, with the goal of drafting a set of teacher-developed assessment tools that were easy to use, assess authentic argumentation tasks in real time, and don’t “take away from instructional time” to implement, but can become an integral part of a classroom’s culture of learning. Results. Finding commonality in the policy debate literature, CCSS ELA Anchor Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards, we define an Evidence-Based Argument to consist of Claim: an answer to a guiding question or prompt. Evidence: valid, relevant, and sufficient data / information needed to support the claim, includes analyzing the data and interpreting that analysis. Reasoning: using academic vocabulary and concepts to, and revealing underlying assumptions that, explicitly connect evidence to the claim. Counterargument: providing counterarguments that show why alternate claims do not answer the guiding question or prompt as well as the main claim. Our working rubrics are similarly based on the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning and Argument-Driven-Inquiry instructional models of McNeill et al and Sampson et al, respectively. Conclusions. We have developed, administered, and normed a baseline assessment in our classes. The results of this baseline, as well as the first several months of applying these tools in the classroom, will be the focus of our presentation. Our main purpose of presenting at an AAAS Education session is to solicit feedback from higher education researchers and educators on the use of argumentation in the K-12 classroom.