Epistemic Artifacts for Supporting Students’ Constructing Arguments on Socio-Scientific Issues
In this research, I propose ‘epistemic artifacts’, a new instructional strategy for supporting students’ constructing arguments. Epistemic artifacts embody the epistemic criteria for distinguishing good arguments from poor arguments. The theoretical background of epistemic artifacts is the theory of artifacts based on socio-cultural approach. The purpose of this research is to examine the efficacy of instructional strategy using epistemic artifacts for constructing arguments on SSIs. I set up an experimental condition (with epistemic artifacts), and a control condition (without epistemic artifacts). Then, I compared the arguments on SSIs that the students constructed before and after instruction between conditions. In both conditions, the students read materials and received a lecture from the teacher on the differences between good and poor arguments. After this lecture, the students constructed arguments. Afterward, the students received feedback from the teacher on the quality of their arguments, and improved their arguments. Only in the experimental condition, the teacher provided the students with epistemic artifacts. These artifacts were provided during the teacher’s lecture and the phases of constructing and improving arguments. Looking at the pre- assessment task results, there was no significant difference in the distribution of scores in the control and experimental conditions with respect to some elements of arguments, and the scores tended to be lower among the control condition compared to the experimental one with respect to the other elements. However, for the post- assessment task, the scores for all elements except element exhibited a ceiling effect were significantly higher in the experimental condition. Based on the above findings, I concluded that an instructional strategy with epistemic artifacts is effective for improving the quality of students’ arguments on SSIs. This research contributed to the existing body of knowledge on instructional strategies for supporting students’ arguments.
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