Bridging dialogic pedagogy and argumentation theory through critical questions
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This article explores the relationship between argumentation theory and dialogic pedagogy. Arguments made in everyday discourse tend to be enthymematic, i.e., containing implicit premises. Thus, dialogue is often necessary to uncover hidden assumptions. Furthermore, evaluating logical arguments involves dialectical and dialogic processes. We articulate the role of critical questions in this process and present the Critical Questions Model of Argument Assessment (CQMAA) as a (mostly) comprehensive framework for evaluating arguments.
Students can be taught to ask and discuss these critical questions. Yet to facilitate and sustain discussion of these questions, teachers need additional tools drawn from dialogic pedagogy. We draw on Robin Alexander’s conceptual framework for this purpose as well as Michaels and O’Connor’s work on Academically Productive Talk. Alexander’s framework includes six pedagogical principles and eight repertoires of talk. We focus specifically on teacher and student talk moves and propose that critical questions should be considered an important subset of productive talk moves that can bring rigor and purpose to classroom argumentation. Other talk moves are also needed to help students construct arguments, listen and engage with one another, and help sustain discussion of the critical questions. The CQMAA provides both a theoretical and practical link between (1) logical analysis and critique and (2) dialogic teaching.
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