Argumentative Practice in Higher Education: Theoretical Reasons From Vygotsky

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Argumentative Practice in Higher Education: Theoretical Reasons From Vygotsky
Stream: Higher Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Ingrid González-Palta, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile


There is evidence that supports the important role that argumentative practice has on concept learning of school students (Felton et al., 2009; Larrain et al., 2018). However, evidence about such role in higher education is still scarce. If we consider that, according to Vygotsky, concepts are processes of generalization that are continually developed (micro and ontogenetically), we ask ourselves, beyond the existing evidence for teenagers and children, what do we know about the role of argumentative practice and concept learning in university students? Evidence is not enough nor is it clear about the role of argumentative practice for disciplinary concept learning of higher education students. On this matter, we pose that it is important to engage in theoretical thinking about the role that argumentative practice would have on the learning of a specific discipline. To do this, a dialectic view of the nature of disciplinary knowledge is adopted, and from there we reflect upon why, particularly in the context of higher education, argumentation could be a tool to develop conceptual thinking. We think that, from a Vygotskian notion of concepts, placing university students in the position where they have to argue, counterargue, and answer their peers' questions can help to build, explore, and go through the meanings of their specific disciplines. Meanings that are organized dialectically and systematically. Besides, the potential of argumentative practice for concept learning would address the need to foster students' autonomous thinking, allowing them to actively think their disciplinary knowledge instead of reproducing it.

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