Advancing group epistemic practices in the resolution of interdisciplinary societal dilemmas

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Ehud Tsemach
Baruch Schwarz
Mirit Israeli
Omer Keynan


The present paper inquires whether a meticulous program designed to resolve Interdisciplinary Societal Dilemmas through dialogic argumentation advances epistemic practices. To delineate how epistemic practices are manifested in classroom discussions, we adopted the Actor-Network Theory (ANT), which explores the interactions and agencies of human and non-human actors. ANT analyses uncover the power these actors exert on each other and help recognize the networks that these actors create or dissolve. They also delineate how epistemic practices emerge and are shaped in these networks. We identified four epistemic practices in the discussions: (1) taking a reasoned position, (2) integrating knowledge from different disciplines, (3) weighing pros and cons before taking a complex position, and (4) role-playing in a democratic game. We show that the type of discourse developed in the program was mostly dialogic argumentation. In addition, we demonstrate how teachers often inhibit these advancements. Indeed, in the case of integrating knowledge from different disciplines, teachers’ role is central, but the emerged actors’ network is often non-dialogic. Moreover, we show how non-human actors shape the interactions in networks as well as the formation of knowledge and agency. We conclude that: (a) the design of activities for resolving interdisciplinary societal dilemmas provides many opportunities for advancing epistemic practices, (b) these practices are mostly advanced through dialogic argumentation, but (c) more efforts should be invested in affording interdisciplinary argumentation.

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How to Cite
Tsemach, E., Schwarz, B., Israeli, M., & Keynan, O. (2023). Advancing group epistemic practices in the resolution of interdisciplinary societal dilemmas. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 11(3), A119-A148.
Author Biographies

Ehud Tsemach, Stanford University, USA

Ehud Tsemach is a postdoctoral fellow at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. His research explores pedagogies that facilitate textual thinking skills and how cognition processes are interwoven with identity, values, and cultural background in the classroom. Tsemach's Ph.D. research has focused on Ultra-Orthodox Jewish students and explored how cognition, sociocultural background, and gender intersect. His peer-reviewed studies delineate how Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women build arguments in an academic context compared to other populations.

Baruch Schwarz, Hebrew University, Israel

Baruch Schwarz is a Full Professor at the School of Education, the Hebrew University. His expertise ranges from educational psychology to the development of mathematical/scientific reasoning. He is a specialist in the role of argumentation in learning and development. He has led several R&D European projects on the use of technologies to boost deliberative argumentation, productive discourse, collaborative learning, mathematical problem-solving, and "Learning to Learn" skills. He is also involved in research on the moderation of collaborative learning. He is active in the study of ultra-orthodox learning in Yeshivas. He led the Special Interest Group on Dialogue, Reasoning and Argumentation (SIG 26) at the European Association of Research in Learning and Instruction.

Mirit Israeli, Kaye College, Israel

Mirit Israeli is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and serves as head of the program of teachers' training for academics at Kaye College of Be'er Sheva. Her doctoral research focuses on distributed leadership and the role of coordinators in teacher collaboration. Her current research investigates classroom dialogic interaction and teacher learning in-service and pre-service.

Omer Keynan, The Academic College of Tel Aviv–Yaffo, Israel

Omer Keynan's research focuses on integrating digital technologies and social media in civic discussions and learning processes in civil society and social movements. In the field, and as part of my research, I lead training and learning processes in third-sector bodies in Israel.


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