ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ A Study Of Undergraduate And Graduate Students’ Argumentation In Learning Contexts Of Higher Education
Abstract: This study sets out to examine to what extent the arguments used by undergraduate and graduate students refer to scientific notions and theories related to the discipline taught in the course. The results of this study indicate that only graduate students advance arguments that refer to scientific notions and theories strictly or somehow related to the discipline taught in the course, whereas undergraduate students typically advance arguments based on common-sense knowledge and previous personal experience.
Keywords: Argumentative Strategies, Higher Education, Pragma-Dialectical Approach, Qualitative Research, Student-Teacher Interaction
In the learning contexts, argumentation is not a heated exchange between rivals that results in winners and losers, or an effort to reach a mutually beneficial compromise; rather it is a form of “logical discourse whose goal is to tease out the relationship between ideas and evidence” (Duschl et al., 2007, p. 33). Argumentation enables students to engage in knowledge construction, shifting the focus from rote memorization of notions and theories to a complex scientific practice in which they construct and justify knowledge claims (Kelly & Chen, 1999; Sandoval & Reiser, 2004). Notwithstanding, current research indicates that learning how to engage in productive scientific argumentation to propose and justify an explanation through argument is difficult for students. Thus, empirical research that examines how students generate arguments has become an area of major concern for science education research.
The present study intends to provide a further contribution to the line of research on student-generated arguments. It specifically focuses on the learning context of higher education and sets out to investigate the arguments used by undergraduate and graduate students in Developmental Psychology during the disciplinary discussions with their teacher and with their classmates, i.e., task-related discussions concerning the discipline taught in the course. In particular, the objective of the present study is to verify the following two hypotheses:
1. “Undergraduate students draw their arguments from common sense and personal experience more often than graduate students”.
2. “Graduate students put forth arguments that refer to scientific notions and theories strictly or somehow related to the discipline taught in the course, i.e., Developmental Psychology, more often than undergraduate students”.
These two hypotheses will be verified by means of a small-scale corpus study, and this certainly limits the generalizability of the results obtained by the present. A larger database would probably permit more quantitatively reliable data for certain statistical relationships, thus drawing conclusions of general order. However, the careful study of a small number of conversations will allow a more penetrating “data-close” analysis of the argumentative dynamics in the classroom. In order to focus on the arguments used by students, the object of investigation will be the argumentative discussions between students and teacher, as well as among students, occurring during their ordinary lessons, rather than an ad hoc setting created to favour the beginning of argumentative discussions. Tools developed in argumentation theory will be useful in this respect as they can be employed to respond to this need. The analytical approach for the selection of the students’ arguments is, in fact, the pragma-dialectical ideal model of a critical discussion (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 1992, 2004).
The paper is structured as follows: in its first part, a concise review of the most relevant literature on argumentation in learning contexts of higher education will be presented. Afterwards, the methodology on which the present study is based and the results of the analyses will be described. In the last part of the article, the results and the conclusions drawn from this study will be discussed. Read more
ISSA Proceedings 2014 ~ Interplay Of Implicitness And Authority: Some Remarks On Roman Rhetorical Ethos
Abstract: In the paper we present an analysis of ethos in the early Roman rhetoric. After a brief conceptualization of “Roman” ethos and different social roles of orator Romanus, we apply such a view of ethos to the Verschueren’s model of linguistic pragmatics. Focusing on different types of implicit meaning we demonstrate how an interaction between the explicit and the implicit reflects a discursive construction of a speaker’s character.
Keywords: argumentation, authority, ethos, implicit meaning, linguistic pragmatics, Roman rhetoric.
The research of rhetorical ethos varies from historical and theoretical conceptualizations to practical instances as well as possible approaches for analysis. In this paper we focus on Roman rhetorical ethos and its representations as they can be reconstructed from the texts of early Roman republic. As a general conceptual framework we adopt a more socio-cultural viewpoint on rhetorical ethos and try to apply it to the field of linguistic pragmatics.
Rhetorical ethos reveals at least three characteristics that should be kept in mind when classical texts are considered: a) being a part of oratorical practice, ethos is primarily rooted in a Greco-Roman socio-cultural world (Enos, 1995); b) ethos as a theoretical concept of Greco-Roman rhetorical system significantly extends over Aristotle’s or Isocrates’ conceptualizations as two most frequently studied directions in classical rhetoric (Amossy, 2001; Žmavc, 2012); c) in terms of ancient cultural presuppositions of character as a moral and pragmatic category (May, 1988), ethos as a rhetorical representation of such character manifests itself through different means, which all gravitate towards the same rhetorical purpose: to secure a speaker’s successful persuasion of their audience.
In this case study we are interested in the function, forms and contexts of Roman ethos and its explicit/implicit nature, where speakers, along with what they say explicitly, try to communicate something else in terms of presenting their character. The purpose of our investigation is grounded in the nature of the early Roman rhetoric and the speaker/orator as a focal point of public persuasion. It is a well known fact that in Roman society especially in the 3rd and 2nd century B.C. most of the public performance was limited to the members of governing elite.[i] Hence, rhetorical ethos as a persuasion strategy based on a presentation of speaker’s character reflected and at the same time helped to secure their dominant social position.
Considering specifics of socio-cultural context of Roman rhetoric, our main objective is to analyse rhetorical ethos as a certain manifestation of language use, which is anchored in the context of early Roman rhetoric as a time and place specific communicative practice. With such perspective we hope to contribute to an understanding of early Roman rhetorical ethos as well as set an example of methodological framework for further comparative and contrastive perspectives in analysis of rhetorical ethos. Read more
Abstract: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address normally is understood as epideictic, intended only to dedicate a national cemetery. In fact, however, an important argument is subtly and implicitly developed in this brief text: that nationalism is necessary for democracy to flourish. This argument will be identified and its layout described. Moreover, Lincoln employs all three dimensions of strategic maneuvering (topical potential, audience demand, and presentational choices) to enhance this argument. Its placement within an epideictic address is strategically useful and illustrates the ways in which epideictic can have argument content.
Keywords: argument structure, burden of proof, coordinative argument, deliberative, epideictic, eulogy, Gettysburg, Lincoln, strategic maneuvering.
Probably no figure in United States history is better known worldwide than Abraham Lincoln, who is taken as representative of the upward mobility Americans value and of the ideals the nation espouses. No speech delivered by Lincoln is better known around the world than the Gettysburg Address. Seemingly a model of simplicity, the Address actually is quite complex/ Seemingly a purely ceremonial address, it actually also presents and develops an argument whose contents are mostly implicit. Seemingly a recitation of communal values, it actually upholds values that are highly controversial. And seemingly transparent in its message, it actually relies on silence, ambiguity, and assertion as means of strategic maneuvering.
This essay is written in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in 2013. In what follows, a brief sketch of the context will be followed by an analysis that seeks to unpack the paradoxes noted above.
2. The battle and the speech
The battle of Gettysburg, a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania, was fought on 1-3 July 1863. Although not fully evident at the time, it was a turning point of the war. It stopped the bold attempt by Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army to invade the North through Maryland and to threaten the capital, Washington. It thereby meant that the South could not win the war through invasion (although a later attempt at a raid was made) but would need to rely on attrition and war-weariness on the part of the North. But the Northern failure to capture Lee’s army after the battle, allowing it instead to escape to Virginia, meant that the war would not end decisively, certainly not soon.
For the most part, the thousands who died in battle were left where they fell on the ground. Hoping to give the Union soldiers a dignified burial and also to control the stench and disease caused by rotting corpses, a group of private citizens undertook to establish a military cemetery on part of the battlefield. Their efforts, though not complete, progressed far enough for the cemetery to be dedicated on November 19, about five months after the battle.
The principal speaker for the occasion was Edward Everett, former governor, representative, and senator from Massachusetts, former president of Harvard University, former secretary of state, and 1860 vice-presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union Party, one of the four major parties that year. Everett spoke for over two hours and, although he has been ridiculed for its length, his speech was an excellent example of its kind. (The text is readily available as an appendix in Wills 1992.) He verbally recreated the battle from start to finish and celebrated the Union victory. His detailed rhetorical depiction enabled audience members to feel as though they were present for all three days of the historic battle. Everett’s speech was followed by a musical interlude and then Lincoln rose for brief remarks formally dedicating the cemetery – the role he was invited to play. Popular myth has it that Lincoln wrote the speech on the back of an envelope while riding on the train to Gettysburg. This myth was created during the 1880s and has no basis in fact (Johnson 2013). In fact he wrote a draft before leaving Washington and then did final editing in Gettysburg the night before delivering the speech (Boritt 2006).
At only 272 words, the text (Basler 1953, 7:23) is easily accessible; a copy is included in the Appendix. Briefly, Lincoln positions the present moment as part of a war testing the commitment of the American founders to nationalism premised on liberty and equality. It is appropriate, he says, for us to hallow the ground on which the soldiers defending this commitment fell, but in a larger sense we cannot, since the battlefield already has been dedicated through their bravery and sacrifice. What we should do, therefore, is to rededicate ourselves to their ideals and to finish the work on their project. Read more
Abstract: This paper addresses intrapersonal argumentation in the soliloquy occurring within oneself while making decisions. It focuses on the analysis of an example of soliloquy by a journalist arguing about his choices in newswriting, made observable by means of a cue-based Retrospective Verbal Protocol from Progression Analysis. After having reconstructed the argumentation structure of the soliloquy in pragma-dialectical terms, the Argumentum Model of Topics is applied to explain the inferential relation between standpoints and arguments.
Keywords: argumentative soliloquy, Argumentum Model of Topics, intrapersonal argumentation, newsmaking, progression analysis.
If inner dialogue is not a form of argumentation, what is it then? Should we think of two completely idiosyncratic phenomena, we would paradoxically maintain that, in a public argumentative discussion, standpoints are defended reasonably; yet that they originate uncritically in the black box of the arguers’ minds. So one would be bound to publicly defend in a reasonable fashion what he has unreasonably decided in his silent thoughts.
(Greco Morasso 2013, p. 60)
From this provocative quote from Greco Morasso’s (2013) account of argumentative inner dialogue in migrant mothers,[i] I shall start my reflection upon the much-debated issue of arguing with oneself. Although this topic has received a lot of attention from psychology and sociology (e.g. Billig, 1996 ), as well as from philosophy (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca 2010  mention Isocrates, Pascal, Schopenhauer and Mill, but Plato dealt with it too), argumentation theory devoted only marginal interest to it. In fact, the main focus of the latter has always been dialogue. Nevertheless, some scholars (amongst others Dascal, 2005; Greco Morasso, 2013; Perrin & Zampa, under review; Rigotti, 2005; Rocci, 2005) turned to intrapersonal argumentation. Therefore I set the present contribution in a still less explored branch of argumentation studies. More precisely, I consider “self-directed argumentation” (Rigotti, 2005, p. 94) enacted within oneself while making decisions in what I call the argumentative soliloquy. I assume the soliloquy to be comparable to a critical discussion, whose protagonist and antagonist are one and the same person.
But how can such a claim be proven? How can a soliloquy be captured? A precise, flawless recording of inner speech is still not feasible today, as it would require installing some science-fiction device in the thinker’s brain. Anyway, data that get close to it are at disposal: cue-based Retrospective Verbal Protocols (from now on, RVP) from Progression Analysis (Perrin, 2003, 2013). RVPs are verbalizations of decision-making during writing, made by the author while watching video recordings of the writing process he just completed. I here take as an example an RVP produced in a television newsroom, i.e., a journalist’s reflections about the coming into being of the textual part of a television news item. The data analysis (Section 4) is conducted on two levels: first I reconstruct the argumentation structure of the soliloquy following Pragma-Dialectics (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004), then the inferential relation between selected standpoints and arguments by means of the Argumentum Model of Topics (Rigotti 2006; Rigotti & Greco Morasso, 2009, 2010, in preparation – from now on, AMT). Before moving to the analysis, I provide a brief account of the state of the art of the studies on argumentation in inner speech I base my analysis upon (Section 2) and introduce the corpus and research method I work with (Section 3). Read more
Abstract: The aim of the paper is to present an analytical method for the dialogical argument structure analysis. The method is used for the extension of the existing models of the recognition of argumentation which typically focus on inference indicators as cues for argument detection. In the proposed approach the aim is to identify argument structures via dialogue protocols. In the dialogue “Bob: We should increase funding for science; Alice: Why?; Bob: Science is necessary for successful industry” the standard method is not sufficient to recognise the argument. The solution is to use the Inference Anchoring Theory which allows us to understand how it is that when e.g. A asks why it is that p; and then B say q, we recognise an inference from p to q. In the paper sample analysis of the natural dialogues is presented using the transcripts of the BBC Radio4 program Moral Maze. Basing on those examples the method for recognition of argument pro- and con- in debate is presented.
Keywords: Argument mining, argument structure, corpus studies, dialogue protocols, inference anchoring theory, protocol for debate
The aim of this paper is to introduce a procedure for the description of arguments performed in dialogues. Analysis of argument structure in this approach will be used as an ‘ore’ for the argument mining techniques, consisting of methods for automated and semi-automated argument extraction from texts in natural language. The proposed method is an extension of existing methods which typically focus on inference indicators such as “because”, “since”, “therefore” as cues for argument recognition (see e.g. van Eemeren et al. 2007). Let’s consider the following example:
Bob: We should increase funding for science because science is necessary for successful industry.
In Bob’s utterance from example 1, argument structure can be easily recognised by means of the inference indicator “because” which allows recognition of the part “We should increase funding for science” as a premise, and “science is necessary for successful industry” as a conclusion of the argument. This method is usually used for the argument mining techniques (see Budzynska & Reed, 2011). Yet, it is not always sufficient for argument detection for all communicative situations, e.g. argumentation performed in the dialogue where there is no indicators. To illustrate such a situation, let’s consider Bob’s utterance from example 1 as it was performed during Bob’s conversation with Alice:
Bob: We should increase funding for science
Bob: Science is necessary for successful industry
Here Bob’s argument cannot be recognised by means of procedure based of inference indicators description since this fragment does not contain any inferential components. The conclusion of the argument was performed by Bob in the first locution in example 2, and its premise was performed in the third locution. Moreover, between the premise and the conclusion performed by Bob, Alice executed one more locution which does not belong to the structure of the argument. Such a case becomes problematic when it comes to the description of automated method for dialogical argument recognition.
The motivation of this research is to explore the possibility of building an analytical method which will reliably work in situations like example 2, and be used for the techniques of automated and semi-automated argument extraction. Proposed method aims to identify argument structures not only via inferential components, but also via dialogue protocols, e.g. certain sequences of utterances in a dialogue (Budzynska et al. 2014). This procedure allows us to understand, e.g. how is that when one participant performs challenging move in a dialogue after which another participant via performing an assertive move performs also argumentation.
Proposed approach to argument structure recognition aims to deal with the resources in natural language, such as transcripts of conversations. In the current paper the analyses of structure of the argument is presented for the discourse of debate.
The paper consists of three parts. In section 2 the methodology for the analysis is described. In sections 3 and 4 the analyses of examples from corpus studies, in which structure for argumentation pro- and con- in debate is illustrated, will be presented. Read more
Abstract: For the development of computation tools to support the pragma-dialectical analysis of argumentative texts, a formal approximation of the pragma-dialectical ideal model of a critical discussion theory is required. A basic dialogue game for critical discussion is developed as the foundation for such formal approximation. To this basic dialogue game, which has a restricted complexity, the more complex features of critical discussion can gradually be added.
Keywords: computerisation, critical discussion, dialogue game, formalisation, pragma-dialectics.
1. Formalisation in preparation of computerisation
Formalisation is one of the important developments in the field of argumentation theory emphasised by van Eemeren in his keynote address at the 8th ISSA conference. My contribution to the ISSA conference deals with the formalisation of one theory of argumentation: the pragma-dialectical theory (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004; van Eemeren et al., 2014, pp. 517-613). This study is intended to contribute to a more encompassing research project, the overall goal of which is to create a formal foundation for a computational application of the pragma-dialectical theory.
The computational application of argumentation theory in general has developed into several directions, as is evident from, e.g., the overviews by Rahwan and Simari (2009) and van Eemeren et al. (2014, pp. 615-675). Instead of trying to formalise and computerise every possible application of the pragma-dialectical theory at once, the current aim is to create a foundation for computational tools to support the analysis of argumentative discourse. Although fully computerised pragma-dialectical analysis will presumably not be feasible for quite some time, smaller digital tools to assist human analysts in their analytical tasks can be realised on a shorter term.
One area in which such a smaller tool can offer support is the composition of the analytic overview. As the outcome of a (standard) pragma-dialectical analysis of an argumentative text, the analytic overview “brings together systematically everything that is relevant to the resolution of a difference of opinion” (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, p. 118).[i] In order to arrive at an analytic overview, the analyst applies a two-step method. First, the ideal model of a critical discussion (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, pp. 42-68) is used as a heuristic to determine which parts of the original text are (or can be considered as) argumentatively relevant. By applying four analytical transformation, the original text is reconstructed in terms of a critical discussion (van Eemeren et al., 1993, pp. 61-62). In the second step, an analytic overview is abstracted from this reconstruction. The composition of the analytic overview is fully determined by the content of the reconstruction in terms of a critical discussion. Based on the discussion moves made by discussants in the analytical reconstruction, the following is determined as part of the analytic overview: the nature of the difference of opinion, the distribution of discussion roles, the starting points, the arguments, the structure of the argumentation and the argument schemes (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004, pp. 118-119).
To develop a computational tool to support analysts in composing an analytic overview on the basis of a reconstruction of the original text in terms of a critical discussion, it is necessary to have a computational representation of the relations between the possible variations in the constitutive parts of the ideal model and those of the analytic overview. Preliminary to these relations, computational representations of the ideal model of a critical discussion, and of the analytic overview themselves are necessary. In the current paper a preparatory step towards the computational representation of the ideal model of a critical discussion is made by formalising part of the ideal model. Read more