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Presentation on theme: "JONATHAN DANGELO UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SUSAN L. KLINE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY Online Educational Simulations: Exploring."— Presentation transcript:


2 Critical thinking and argument skills are significant for developing a range of competencies for participating in society, including moral development. The focus in this research is on argument discourse skill, and on exploring the effectiveness of a particular intervention – online educational games - as a context for enhancing argument skills, and serving as a platform for moral development. Here two studies are presented. The first focused on argumentative discourse, finding that students utilize questioning in distinct ways not before accounted for in literature. The second situated these findings by exploring evidence of larger educational development. It is concluded that this context, and online educational simulations, may present a unique and especially effective development of argumentation skills, as well as moral development. Both studies utilize discourse data from the online simulation Place Out of Time.

3 Data Online Simulation aimed at Middle School and High School Students. (100-150 students participate each year). College Students, Graduate Students, and Teachers participate as well. Though they play characters, their aim is to mentor. Everyone plays a character from throughout history. For example, students can play anyone from JFK to Harriet Tubman. Students and mentors engage in a trial, in which they have to argue the perspective that they believe their character would take.

4 Data Simulation Procedures Students Select Character Students Research Character Students Compose Auto Biography and engage in role playing games. Students begin exploring website. Students engage in discourse with mentors and others via private messages and public message boards. Topics vary from favorite foods, to the importance of freedom vs security. Eventually trial scenario begins.

5 Study 1 One communication practice that occurs in argumentative interaction is the question. Questions can structure argumentation dialogue in important ways, from inviting agreement, calling for others to take or clarify their positions, to structuring a meaningful response. While questions can guide thinking and shape dialogue, most argumentation scholarship has focused on the fallacies that can occur in question-asking, instead of scholars advancing empirical work on argumentation skill development (e.g., Meyer, 1988; Walton, 1988).

6 Study 1 So, in this research report we explore the functional types of questions in argumentation dialogues, to learn the types of questions used, whether question type use changes with task experience, and whether question types are associated with users social cognitive development. The particular context for study is an online character simulation game called Place out of Time (POOT).

7 Study 1 The purpose of this study is to learn the types of questions discussants engage in during POOT, the online educational simulation. Four research questions are posed: RQ1: What types of questions occur in online argumentation during an educational game simulation? RQ2: Do students and mentors differ in the types of questions they use? RQ3: Are question types associated with discussants level of social cognitive development? RQ4: Do students alter their question types over the course of the online simulation?

8 Study 1 Methods Participants in this report were 101 students and mentors who actively participated in Place out of Time (POOT) during 10 weeks in the fall of 2008. All communicative activity in the simulation was archived and made accessible to the researchers. Student participants were middle school and high school students aged 11 to 18 years old (N = 78) who came from four classrooms in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Each class had a fairly equal ratio of male to female participants. A third group of active participants were mentors, consisting of graduate students, classroom teachers, and professors who administered the simulation (N = 23).

9 Study 1 Methods For this study the character profiles were used to derive a measure of interpersonal cognitive complexity, with each profile scored for the number of interpersonal constructs it contained according to the procedures of Crockett, Press, Delia, and Kenny (1974; Burleson & Caplan, 1998). Each character profile was also assessed for its level of construct system organization, or the extent participants explicitly recognized and resolved variability in the behavior of the character they were enacting. Crocketts fifteen level hierarchical coding system was utilized (Crockett et al., 1974); this system assesses the way behavioral variability is recognized and accounted for in the impressions one forms of others.

10 RQ 1 Our first research question asked about the types of questions used by participants in the online simulation. Discussants produced 640 questions in the public discourse of the simulation, with 314 questions produced by the middle and high school students, and 326 questions produced by the mentor/graduate students. The question types are are indicated in the following slide:

11 Question Types in an Online Education Game Focused on Argumentative Discussion 1.Questions in Headers Freedom of Speech? 2. Viewpoint or discussion queries Queries discussion process Proposes alternatives I wonder what other people think about this? What set of laws are we to consider for this trial? Why not encourage other countries…to offer aid? 3. Accusatory challenges Why do you people make so many stupid and ignorant decisions? 4. Issue analysis Raises principles or fallacious reasoning Rhetorical questions to advance own argumentation They cannot provide for people in their own country but they are going to give to Darfur? Whose interests are most important? Carlin is what…a comedian? He is a mere observer of history that more important people define. 5. Situation analysis Situational queries or situation casting to advance standpoint So what are Israels and Egypts real reasons for acting as they have? Why is it okay for him to instigate such verbal violence? 6. Integrative moves Raises, confirms or extends common premises, views Table 1 Question Types in an Online Education Game Focused on Argumentative Discussion I agreeAre not we to help our fellow beings?

12 RQ 2 Our second research question asked whether the use of questions differed by discussant role (mentor or student). A multivariate analyses of variance was conducted on the question types, with discussant role the between groups factor. This analysis was significant, Wilks Lambda =.640, F (6, 92) = 8.609, p <.001, with all six question types producing significant findings:

13 RQ 2 Question headers, viewpoint queries, and issue analysis questions were used more frequently by mentors/graduate students than by the middle/high school students (Fs = 14.63, 28.43 & 14.57, p <.001). Situation analysis questions, integrative move question and challenge questions were also used more frequently by mentors/graduate students than by the middle/high school students (Fs = 4.51, 8.55, & 10.45, p <.05,.01).

14 RQ 3 Our third research question asked about the relationship between discussants level of social cognitive development and their use of question types. Age-partialled correlations were computed between the two social cognitive development measures and the six question types. Three of the six question types were significantly associated with discussants level of social cognitive development:

15 RQ 3 The use of integrative move questions was positively related to questioners level of cognitive complexity and construct system organization (age-partialled rs =.22 &.29, p <.05, respectively). Viewpoint and discussion questions were also related to cognitive complexity and construct system organization (both age-partialled rs =.17, p <.10 &.21, p <.05). Issue analysis questions were positively related to questioners level of construct system organization (age-partialled r =.24, p <.05).

16 RQ 4 The last research question asked if the frequency of question types changed over the course of the 10 week online simulation for the middle and high school students. To answer this question we divided discussants overall online discussion activity into two equal time periods, and then computed a series of repeated measure ANOVAs for each question type for the student groups. Three of the six tests were statistically significant:

17 RQ 4 Integrative move questions increased from Time 1 to Time 2 (F = 16.302 (1,77), p <.001, Ms =.18 &.78, SDs =.50 & 1.36, for each Time, respectively), but the main effect was qualified by an interaction effect with age group, with middle school students accounting for the increase in the use of integrative move questions (F = 14.871, (1, 77), p <.001, Ms =.24 & 1.39, SDs =.48 & 1.64, for each time, respectively).

18 RQ 4 Situational analysis questions also increased from Time 1 to Time 2 (F = 4.201 (1,77), p <.05, Ms =.13 &.34, SDs =.52 &.79), with no interaction effect with age group. Finally, the use of challenge questions increased over the course of the simulation (F = 9.05 (1,77), p <.01, Ms =.17 &.34, SDs =.61 &.83), with this analysis also detecting an interaction effect with age group. Again, post hoc analyses showed that middle school students accounted for the increase in challenge questions.

19 Study 1 Discussion Our findings extend existing views in at least two ways. 1. We learned that some discussants used questions to set a stage for themselves to offer their own argumentation. By answering their own questions discussants could emphasize particular situational features or issues to render their reasoning even more plausible. 2. We learned that many discussants used questions to emphasize common premises that could be used to establish joint argumentation. Integrative move questions were associated with social cognitive development and increased over time. These types of questions do not appear in others typologies.

20 Study 2 Grounded theory study conducted in unison with study 1, but by separate author. Data included aforementioned discourse data, with additional previously collected student interviews, and videotaped class periods. Process included open coding, axial coding, selecting coding, and theoretical sampling (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin 1990).

21 Findings Upon analysis, unique themes emerged that pointed to this online educational simulation as not only a tool for the development of argumentation and critical thinking skills, but also as a fertile environment for moral education. There are three main patterns that emerged in this context. Taken together, they can represent stages reached by students on a path towards moral development.

22 Stage 1 – Active Student Engagement in Argumentation I saw kids high-five each other about making good points in their postings. The heightened and abundant presence of this argumentation is an important piece of is a foundation for the development of education in the moral domain. Nucci (2001; 2008) notes a number of conditions that should be in place if moral education is to occur. The first is that communicative discourse is the primary tool for moral education: there needs to be argumentation, where students are able to see that other do not hold the same position as they do.

23 Stage 2 - Discussion of Social Norms vs Morality In general growing up in different places and with different cultures we think and do things differently. Yes, we have some likenesses. I think we should make big rules that would apply to everyone. Like, you cant kill anyone, treat others how you would want to be treated, and we are all equal. These are the rules I think we should have. This type of discussion is considered a key part of development in moral education. Nucci (2001; 2008) makes a number of suggestions for educational activities involving argument and small group discussion, most of which aim to lead students to respond in a critical way to contradictions between moral and conventional features of events (2008, pg. 304). By engaging in this reasoning, students are then able to take a more critical perspective on actions that involve understanding the reasoning behind right and wrong.

24 Stage 3 – Phenomenological Disruption It forces you to abandon your moral code and the way you reason to try to take on somebody elses ideals and how they think about different issues, because you cant assume what you think is what the person next to you thinks…. It forces you to think outside of your comfort zone… it broadens your view of reality, I guess… cause to fully understand something, you need to think about everybodys point of view. Many students experience a moment in which the role they have to speak is very different from the role they play in real life, yet in acting the role they realize that the differing view on the world is not without reasoning. This moment, that many alluded it, was defined a phenomenological disruption. This is as a moment when ones own intentionality is displaced with that of anothers, allows for one to see the world, and even act upon it, form a very different perspective.

25 Stage 3 – Phenomenological Disruption This is extremely important moment for moral education. Researchers have found that post- conventional reasoning is readily absent among the adults in traditional cultural groups (Snarey, 1985). Post-conventional refers to levels 5 and 6 of Kohlbergs stages of moral development in which individuals begin to understand societal convention as opposed to morality.) The suggested cause of such findings is that traditional cultures do not provide the kinds of disequilibrating social experiences that would move individuals to higher levels of moral reasoning (Nucci, 2001, p. 95).

26 Study 2 Discussion The findings of the second study pointed out elements that suggested that online educational simulations such as POOT provide fertile ground for moral development by creating an atmosphere of student-to- student argumentation, discussion that gives critical thought to social norms versus morality, and the experience of disequilibrating social experience conceptualized as a phenomenological disruption

27 Overall Discussion Taken together, these results indicate a very unique environment for education. This becomes clear when you carefully consider the new type of questioning found in student argumentation in combination with the type of argument necessary for moral development. Research has pointed out that moral development is best reached when students utilize as transacts, which are defined as responses that attempt to extend the logic of the speakers argument, refute assumptions about the speakers argument, or provide a point of commonality between two conflicting positions (Nucci, 2001, pg, 174). Here, such responses happen to also occur readily in the form of the questions newly identified in study one. The integrative move questions that establish common premises are perhaps new to student argumentation research because they are particular to argument conducive or moral education. Further, the stage-setting questions emphasize particular situational features, beginning to lead to a consideration between situational norms or societal convention and deeper morality.

28 References


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