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Author(s): José Martins Ferreira
Rui Trindade
Carlinda Leite
Title: Do We Need Argumentative Reasoning in Higher Education?
Issue Date: 2010-08
Abstract: The Bologna Reform of the European Universities brings the development of student skills to the frontline of teachers' concerns. Acknow ledging that the simple transfer of information must be replaced by teaching methods centred on student learning activities is now a reality, and has challenged traditional higher-education pedagogies focused on "right answers". In a broader perspective, the teaching paradigm and the learning outcomes are changing, namely those which are connected to communication and argumentative skills. The aim of this paper is to contribute to questioning the role of argumentation in higher education, in order to understand how the w ork of students incorporates the development of argumentative skills, in line w ith quality improvement demands in higher education. Assessment instruments related to the development of argumentative skills are identified and analysed in tw o Portuguese Schools (Education Sciences and Engineering, both from the University of Porto). The specific objectives of this research are: 1) To evaluate the real importance of argumentative skills as a criterion for assessing students; 2) to analyze argumentative reasoning structures that are present in reports and other deliverables resulting from students assignments; and 3) to analyze argument pragmatics used by students. Argumentation is structured upon contextualized and communicative reasoning, rather than text (and logic reasoning) based on assumptions that are not discussed. Argumentative reasoning fits w ell in the field of possible, preferred choice, for w hich the best arguments have to be produced (Grácio, 1992; 1998; Toulmin 2001). All situations characterised by more proficient levels in the production and use of know ledge, as academic learning, assume the existence of choices that require reasoning and argumentative text. Furthermore, argumentation alternatives are essential for know ledge meaningful appropriation (Weston, 2005). Argumentative reasoning is part of the soft skills that must be developed by higher-education students, since they are asked to support conclusions of experimental procedures, to arguably choose one theoretical option or technique among others, and to organize projects w hose action lines must be sustained (Coffin, 2008). The place for argumentation in higher education curricula differs from one country to another, and teaching traditions differ among Latin and Anglo-Saxon communities. Argumentation is usually seen as less important than the acquisition of know ledge and learning contents (Andrew s, 2009), and rhetoric has long been misunderstood / mistreated (Perelman, 1997; Amossy, 2009). How ever, the changing relationship betw een higher education and society, both in the social implications of know ledge and in the structure of the know ledge society, enabled argumentation to emerge as a need to achieve equity, citizenship and social justice in contemporary higher education (Brennan, 2007). In addition, higher education policy literature has tended to follow the human capital development, and subsequently to promote civic values and behaviour, facilitating social mobility (id; ibidem). To achieve this purpose of ensuring equity it is important to develop argumentative skills among students.
Subject: Educação, Ciências da educação
Education, Educational sciences
Scientific areas: Ciências sociais::Ciências da educação
Social sciences::Educational sciences
Document Type: Poster em Conferência Internacional
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FEUP - Poster em Conferência Internacional
FPCEUP - Poster em Conferência Internacional

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