Effect of Dialogic Argumentation on Grade Eight Students Eepistemic Knowledge of Science: A Mixed Methods Design

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This dissertation aims to explore the effect of dialogic argumentation on grade 8 students' epistemic knowledge of science in physics learning and to identify the practices and challenges faced to promote epistemic knowledge through dialogic argumentation. The study used a mixed methods experimental design research approach where a quasi experimental design was employed to compare experimental, and control groups' epistemic knowledge of science and a collective case study design was employed to identify teachers' challenges in promoting students' epistemic knowledge in argumentation lessons. Fourteen classrooms were randomly selected from twelve schools and assigned to intervention (239 students from seven classrooms) and control (240 students from seven classrooms) groups. A pre-intervention physics reasoning test was administered to both groups and small group classroom discussions were video recorded. Then, physics teachers in the intervention group had trained for three days about dialogic argumentation and its implementation. In addition, Talking Physics Students Activities manual, that contains fifty-two argumenattives physics activities were distributed and used in a yearlong dialogic argumentation intervention. Post intervention data were obtained from a physics reasoning test administered to both groups, video records of small group classroom discussions from both groups and whole-class teaching and audio records of teacher interviews from intervention group. The test scores and the quantized qualitative data of small group discussions were analyzed using inferential statistics. Video data of classroom teaching were quantitized using quantitative ethnography and analyzed using epistemic network analysis. Teachers interviews were also qualitatively analyzed using a thematic analysis. Mann-Whitney U test results indicated that the post-test iv scores of grade 8 students in the argumentaion lessons significantly increased in their level of epistemic knowledge compared to the non-argumentation groups, z = - 4.509, p = .000, and r = .21, but not in the pre-test scores, z = - 1.038 and p = .299. However, both pre- and post test scores of both groups were relatively low. The intervention groups showed significant improvements in the quality of their argumentation on the ASAC scale, z = 2.111, p = .035, and r = .56, but not the control groups, z = 1.068 and p = .285. The epistemic network analysis of the wholeclass teaching in the intervention group showed weak and less frequent connections epistemic aims, epistemic processes of construction, justification, and evaluation of knowledge. The study found evidence that argumentation-based lessons improved both the epistemic knowledge and the quality of dialogic argumentations of grade 8 students and that students' level of epistemic knowledge and the quality of their dialogic argumentations were strongly correlated. However, teachers had failed to teach argumentation as an epistemic practice. To make a better use of dialogic argumentation, therefore, well-thought-out and research-supported training needs to be given to science teachers as part of their continuous professional development. Future studies are necessary to address the effects of such trainings and to determine if there are other hidden factors, apart from teachers' inadequacy, that affect students' epistemic knowledge of science.