Making a Good Argument

silhouette of couple arguingTo meet recently adopted national education standards, students need to be able to comprehend and formulate arguments—a concept known in teaching as “argument literacy.” Researchers at Montclair State, with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, are developing a program with Ohio State University to teach students how to properly make and understand arguments.

The three-year professional development project will use participants from a suburban school district in Ohio and an urban district in New Jersey to ensure the teaching skills will work in both settings, says Associate Professor Alina Reznitskaya, who teaches Educational Foundations. National education standards define argument literacy as a fundamental life skill “for the literate, educated person living in the diverse, information-rich environment of the 21st century.”

“We plan to draw on contemporary theory and research that suggest that the development of argument literacy is best supported through dialogic teaching—an approach that capitalizes on the power of conversation to further students’ learning,” Reznitskaya says.

Through teacher workshops, in-class coaching and a larger pilot study, the team will create a complete professional development program with all associated materials, activities and measures. “We will also have evidence supporting the feasibility of implementing the program in classroom settings and data addressing its promise for promoting students’ argument literacy,” Reznitskaya says.