Author: Pezaro, Charlotte
Type of paper: Abstract refereed
For many people, the most significant way in which higher order thinking and reasoning are used is in argumentation. The process of argumentation reveals the beliefs and opinions people hold about important social and scientific issues (Kuhn, 1992), as well as political, economic, professional, and personal ethics and values. Everyday argumentation requires individuals to reason along illative norms, drawing conclusions or making judgments that are based on circumstantial evidence or prior conclusions rather than evidence derived from direct observation of phenomena, or along formal deductive or inductive logics (Legrenzi, Girotto, & Johnson-Laird, 1993). In ways very similar to decision-making, argumentation is constrained by the knowledge, reasoning skills, and cognitive dispositions of the interlocutors engaged in it. Decisions are made within bounds of knowledge and reasoning skills; argumentation serves to support decisions made. The two are interrelated (Johnson-Laird & Shafir, 1993). In the research presented in this symposium, boundaries to decision-making, including reasoning, were observed before and after students experienced one of two types of learning interventions. The findings challenge some of the assumptions about the value of inquiry learning, and suggest that if the goal of any intervention is improved decision-making, such experiences need to be complemented with opportunities to engage meaningfully in argumentation.