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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Conclusion and the implication for teaching

In the current Information Age, resource-based learning is ubiquitous, and the Internet is the prevalent medium to search information. Accordingly, the need to develop argumentation has become increasingly important.

Visual models have been taken as an important method to simplify concepts and allow individuals to remember more easily. In this study, Lakatos' visual model was the one chosen most often by non-science participants for constructing their arguments about GMF. The reasons included that the representation and meanings of the components of this model are easy to understand, especially for beginners; participants' thinking process matched Lakatos' model. In addition, the theoretical description of Lakatos' programmes was acceptable by one of the participants. However, concerning the reasons why participants did not choose another two model to construct their arguments, besides the complication of visual representation, participants also mentioned Toulmin's framework is too fragmental and was difficult to fit the information into each component; from the visual representation, the elements of Means and Voss's model are all in one-way direction, and participants thought thinking process should not be just one-way direction. Moreover, in terms of the questions participants chose to explore regarding GMF, most participants were concerned about the safety issues after eating GMF, the benefits people can get from GMF, how GMF are recognized in the market and the impact on ecology after creating GMF.

As a result of this study, it seems that Lakatos' model could be suitable for beginners (non-science students) to learn how to argue regarding socioscientific issues. This conclusion confirms the notion that Lakatos' model could be an alternative model when deal with socioscientific issues, except Toulmin's framework and Means and Voss's model (Chang & Chiu, 2005b). Teachers could provide the visual model of Lakatos' model first and then let students develop their arguments by using the model, especially during discussions about socioscientific issues. The categories of questions concerning GMF found from this study could be used as ideas for teachers to develop instruction in the future, since students seem to be interested and motivated by these perspectives. Questions are a fundamental aspect of resource-based learning models (Rakes, 1996). The limitations of Lakatos' model revealed in this study, indicate the need for teachers to demonstrate the process of argumentation first, and then let students argue accordingly. Otherwise, students would feel less able to construct the parts of positive and negative heuristics of Lakatos' model. In terms of the representation of visual models, teachers ought to make it simple and take care of the meaning to each symbol and the direction of arrows.

In summary, resource-based learning could provide students with the opportunity to explore and practice their argumentation skills, and the presentation of a visual model benefits student more when learning argumentation as well.



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