Thinking by young children during argumentation: Use of evidence and logic

Diezmann, Carmel M. & Watters, James J. (1998) Thinking by young children during argumentation: Use of evidence and logic. In Ling, Q.M. & Kam, H.W. (Eds.) Thinking processes: Going beyond the surface curriculum, Simon and Schuster (Singapore), Singapore, pp. 115-134.


In an enrichment program for 5-7 year old children, the topic of colonisation of Mars was explored. The program was run over a 10 week period with the children meeting for 90 minutes each week. During the program the children were introduced to the topic through a range of experiences, sources of information and activities which encouraged them to develop an understanding of conditions on the planet. As part of these activities discussions and argument were undertaken about topical issues. Analyses of these discussions revealed several interesting features that have implications for teaching thinking and for science education. In particular it was noted that: (a) information from a range of sources were encoded without reference to the credibility of the sources, (b) children displayed high levels of logical and conditional reasoning exemplified through argument and, (c) although beliefs and alternative viewpoints were confronted and evaluated during discussions, revision of original beliefs was rare. These results imply that the children are able to apply domain general reasoning strategies in argumentation but the scientific validity of the arguments are constrained by the domain specific prior knowledge. However, the context of the program facilitated argument and engagement in reasoning processes by its appeal to personal interest. The motivational component of the learning experience became a significant force in sustaining the engagement in reasoning. This paper will explore the processes exhibited during this program and draw implications for teaching thinking strategies in classroom situations. Indeed, our experiences with these children challenges the border between traditional teaching and children’s capacity to reason.

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ID Code: 5927
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: early childhood, young children, argumentation, thinking, evidence, logic
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1998 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 01 Nov 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2011 05:41

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