Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 8, Issue 1, Article 5 (June, 2007)
Teaching argumentation through the visual models in a resource-based learning environment

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The results show that 36 of the 38 participants chose Lakatos' scientific research programmes to construct their arguments. There were three categories of reasons regarding why students chose Lakatos' programmes described as follows.

Comments on the structure of the model itself

Twenty seven participants mentioned that the reason they choose Lakatos' programmes was because of the structure of model itself. Among the 27 participants, 26 of them mentioned that Lakatos' programme is a simple model and could be used easily for beginners (Mr. MHC's answer is quoted). One participant pointed out the positive heuristic and negative heuristic was useful (Miss WYJ's answer is quoted).

Mr. MHC: The reason for choosing this model is because the graph looks simple and the model is easy to understand. Also this model is suitable for beginners to handle.

Miss WYJ: The main reason to choose Lakatos' model is because it is easy to understand and suitable for a beginner like me. By the way, it is a good way to construct arguments with positive (represent to positive heuristic) and negative (represent to negative heuristic) perspectives like Lakatos' model.

Comments on participants' thinking processes

Ten participants thought that Lakatos' scientific research programmes was a model that fitted with their thinking processes (Miss CJL's answer is quoted).

Miss CJL: The Laktos' model is just like my way to think. I think this model could construct my ideas very well, so I choose this model to present my argument.

Comments on the theory of the model itself

Only one participant mentioned that the theoretical feature of Lakatos' model is the reason for choosing it for constructing arguments (Miss CHW's answer is quoted). 

Miss CHW: Lakatos' scientific research programmes is a more completed model to look at the progress about a series of theories. I think argument is firm to every individual when generated at the beginning, and it also takes time to be changed to another argument. The process of change is just like Lakatos' model.

Furthermore, the questions participants felt interested in investigating in a resource-based environment concerning GMF could be grouped into seven categories. The categories and the number of participants presented in each category are given below. Due to participants often gave more than one question to investigate; the total number of questions is over 38, the number of participants.

1.  The safety issue (21 participants): most participants wanted to know whether there is any side effect after eating GMF for our bodies.

2.  The benefit after creating GMF (16 participants): many participants wanted to know whether GMF could produce food with more nutrients and then people do not need to take extra vitamins in the future; some mentioned perhaps GFM could be produced to cure diseases.

3.  What kinds of GMF have been sold in the market so far and how would we recognize them (14 participants): many people would like to know whether they have eaten any GMF without noticing, and was there any label indicating GMF so that people could recognize it.

4.  The impact on ecology (13 participants): some participants hoped to know whether the kind of GMF with insect-killing gene will kill humans as well, or damage the stability of the current ecology.

5.  How to monitor the prevalence of GMF by government (4 participants): only a few people wanted to know how the government monitors GFM research and manages the GMF on the market.

6.  The vegetarians' perspective on the recombination of animal gene in the vegetable (3 participants): vegetarian's viewpoint about eating the animal gene from GMF was also felt interested in investigating by three participants.

7.  The cost of producing GMF (2 participants): Only two participants cared about how much money it costs to produce GMF. 

        When participants mentioned the limitations of using Lakatos' programmes to construct arguments, some participants who disagreed to buy GMF mentioned there was a difficulty in constructing positive and negative heuristics while dealing with GMF topic. They mentioned they could search and categorize the information regarding pros and cons easily, but it was hard to construct them as positive and negative heuristics of Lakatos' programmes.


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