Bridging dialogic pedagogy and argumentation theory through critical questions

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E. Michael Nussbaum
Ian J. Dove
LeAnn G. Putney


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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How to Cite
Nussbaum, M., Dove, I., & Putney, L. (2023). Bridging dialogic pedagogy and argumentation theory through critical questions. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 11(3), A7-A25.
Author Biographies

E. Michael Nussbaum, University of Nevada, USA

E. Michael Nussbaum is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political studies from Pitzer College, a master’s degree in public policy analysis from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. He specializes in research on argumentation in education, including science and social studies, with an emphasis on the use of critical questions in oral and written argumentative discourse.

Ian J. Dove, University of Nevada, USA

Ian J. Dove is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Critical Thinking and Logic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona State University, a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. from Rice University, all in philosophy. His research focuses on argumentation (especially in science, mathematics, and visual reasoning) and the development of new argument schemes and critical questions.

LeAnn G. Putney, University of Nevada, USA

LeAnn G. Putney is a Professor Emerita in Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She holds a bachelor’s degree focusing on both Spanish and English from Indiana University, a master’s in multilingual education from the California State University, Stanislaus, and a Ph.D. in language, culture, and literacy from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her interests include ethnographic research on discourse and learning communities from a Vygotskian perspective, as well as teacher self-efficacy and collective classroom efficacy. She co-authored the book, A Vision of Vygotsky, which relates sociocultural theory to classroom practices.


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