The development of discourse strategies in adolescent argumentation

  • Felton M
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Abstract

Earlier research [Discourse Process. 23 (2/3) (2002) 135] on argumentation suggests that adults use advanced discourse strategies more consistently, more frequently, and more flexibly than do adolescents. The present study examines the development of argumentation skills during adolescence. Forty-eight seventh and eighth graders were assigned to one of two conditions. Both groups engaged in pretest and posttest measures of strategy use on two topics (capital punishment and abortion) and then engaged in five weekly dialogues on the main topic only (capital punishment). Control group participants engaged in dialogue only while experimental group participants engaged in a combination of dialogue and paired reflection on dialogues. Experimental group participants showed greater advances in argumentative discourse than control group participants. Results suggest that change in adolescents does indeed progress in the direction of adult discourse and that a combination of practice and reflection is more effective in promoting change than practice alone. The implications of these findings for a developmental model of argumentative discourse are discussed. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescent argumentation
  • Development
  • Discourse strategy

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Authors

  • Mark K. Felton

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