22 SES 02 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
The Bologna Reform of the European Universities rises questions related to the work of teachers to promote students’ abilities. Recognition that an approach based on the transfer of information must be replaced by a teaching methodology centred on students learning activities has challenged traditional higher-education pedagogies focused on “right answers”. In a broader perspective, the teaching paradigm is changing as well as the learning outcomes, namely those which are connected to communication and argumentative skills.
The aim of this communication is to contribute to questioning the role of argumentation role in higher education, in order to understand how teachers incorporate argumentative skills development as a necessary element in higher education quality demand.
Assessment instruments related to argumentative skills development are identified and analysed in two Portuguese Schools (Education and Engineering, both from the University of Porto).
The specific objectives of this research are:
To study the real importance of argumentative competence as a criterion for assessing students;
To analyse teachers’ assessment practices related to argumentative skills.
Argumentation is structured upon contextualized and communicative reasoning, rather than text (and logic reasoning) based on assumptions that are not discussed. Argumentative reasoning fits well in the field of possible, preferred choice, for which it is necessary to wield the best arguments (Grácio, 1992; 1998; Toulmin 2001).
All situations characterised by more proficient levels on the production and use of knowledge, as academic learning, suppose the existence of choices that make reasoning and argumentative text necessary. Furthermore, choices to argue are essential for knowledge meaningful appropriation (Weston, 2005).
Argumentative reasoning is part of the soft skills that must be developed by higher-education students, since they are asked to support conclusions of experimental procedures, to arguably choose one theoretical option or technique among others and to organize projects whose action lines must be sustained (Coffin, 2008).
The place for argumentation in higher education curricula has been settled differently in different countries and teaching traditions differ among Latin and Anglo-Saxon communities. More common are less worthy considerations on the subject when compared with attention on substance of the courses (Andrews, 2009) and rhetoric prejudices dissemination (Perelman, 1997; Amossy, 2009). However, changing relationship between higher education and society, both in the knowledge implications on the point of view of the society and in the structure of the knowledge society, make argumentation emerge as a need to achieve equity, citizenship and social justice in contemporary higher education (Brennan, 2007). In addition, higher education policy literature has tended to follow the human capital development and subsequently to promote civic values and behaviour, facilitating social mobility (id; ibidem). To achieve this purpose of ensuring equity it is important to develop argumentative skills among students.
Amossy, Ruth et Koren, Roselyne. (2009) Rhétorique et argumentation : approches croisées , Argumentation et Analyse du Discours [online], 2, URL : http://aad.revues.org/index561.html Andrews, Richard (2009). Argumentation in Higher Education – Improving practice through Theory and Researh. London : Routledge. Brennan, Jonh, Enders, Jurgen, Musselin, Christine, Teichler, Ulrich and Valimaa, Jussi. (2008) Higher Education looking forward: an agenda for future research. ESF. URL : http://www.esf.org/activities/forward-looks/social-sciences-scss/current-forward-looks-in-social-sciences/higher-education-in-europe-beyond-2010.html#c29044 Coffin, Caroline & O'Halloran, Kieran(2008)'Researching argumentation in educational contexts: new directions,new methods',International Journal of Research & Method in Education,31(3), 219 — 227 Grácio, Rui (1992). Nova retórica e tradição filosófica. Caderno de Filosofias, 5, 55-69. Grácio, Rui (1998). Consequências da retórica. Coimbra: Pé de Página. Perelman, Chaim (1987). Argumentação. In F. Gil (org). Oral / Escrito / Argumentação. Lisboa: Einaudi / Imprensa Nacional / Casa da Moeda, 234-265. Toulmin, Stephen (2001). Os Usos do Argumento. S. Paulo: Martins Fontes. Weston, Anthony (2005) A Arte de Argumentar, Lisboa: Gradiva.
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