Authentic questions as prompts for productive and constructive sequences: A pragmatic approach to classroom dialogue and argumentation

Main Article Content

Chrysi Rapanta
Fabrizio Macagno


Goal. The problem of the authenticity of teacher questions has not received sufficient attention from educational researchers interested in the intersection between dialogue and argumentation. In this paper, we adopt a definition of authentic questions as dialogical units that prompt teacher-student interactions that are both productive (i.e., several students participating) and constructive (i.e., students produce arguments of high complexity). Our goal is to analyze whether and how specific types of dialogue prompts can encourage students’ engagement in more sophisticated argumentative interactions, as manifested through the construction of high-complexity arguments.

Method. We describe the implementation of our analytical approach to a large corpus of classroom interactions from five European countries. The corpus was segmented into dialogical sequences, which were then coded according to the argumentation dialogue goal expressed in the sequence. We also coded students’ arguments according to Toulmin’s elements and distinguished between low- and high-complexity arguments from a structural point of view.

Findings. Our findings show the predominance of the so-called Discovery questions as prompts that are both productive and constructive and Inquiry questions as prompts of argumentative constructive interactions. We discuss the importance of these findings for teacher professional development purposes.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rapanta, C., & Macagno, F. (2023). Authentic questions as prompts for productive and constructive sequences: A pragmatic approach to classroom dialogue and argumentation. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 11(3), A65-A87.
Author Biographies

Chrysi Rapanta, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Chrysi Rapanta (Ph.D. in communication, 2011) works as a researcher in the field of Argumentation and Education at the Institute of Philosophy at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. She has coordinated national and international projects on argumentation and dialogical practices in education, closely collaborating with teachers from various contexts and educational levels. She has authored several papers on argument-based teaching published on major international peer-reviewed journals such as Review of Educational Research, Educational Research Review, Educational Psychology Review, Teaching & Teacher Education, and Learning, culture & social interaction. She is also the author of “Argumentation strategies in the classroom” (2019, Vernon Press).

Fabrizio Macagno, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Fabrizio Macagno (Ph.D. in linguistics, 2008) works as an assistant professor in the departments of Philosophy and Communication at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has coordinated national and international projects on dialogical practices in different contexts, including education and medical communication. He authored several papers on definition, informal fallacies, argumentation schemes, and dialogue theory published in major international peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Pragmatics, Intercultural Pragmatics, Argumentation, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Informal Logic, and Pragmatics and Cognition. His most important publications include the books Argumentation Schemes (Cambridge University Press 2008), Emotive language in argumentation (CUP 2014), Interpreting straw man argumentation (Springer 2017), and Statutory interpretation: Pragmatics and argumentation (CUP 2021).


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