Promoting learning and development of students through argumentative interactions in the classroom. A study of the teacher’s questions in the learning contexts of higher education
This study sets out to investigate how learning and development of students through social interaction in the classroom can be pursued by the teacher in the learning contexts of higher education. The aim of this study is to compare the types of teachers' questions to their students used at undergraduate and graduate levels during argumentative disciplinary discussions in the classroom. The data corpus is constituted by 16 video-recorded lessons of two courses – one at undergraduate level and one at graduate level – in Developmental Psychology. The two courses were selected according to the following criteria: i) similar number of students, ii) similar disciplinary domain, iii) both courses are taught by the same teacher in English language. The analytical approach adopted for the analysis relies on a qualitative methodology based on the pragma-dialectical ideal model of a critical discussion. The findings of this study indicate that at the undergraduate level the teacher asks questions that can favor a large discussion with and among students around general topics relating to Developmental Psychology. At the graduate level the teacher asks questions that refer to specific aspects of a certain theory. However, both at undergraduate and graduate level the students are expected to provide the reasons at the basis of their own opinions by advancing arguments that have to refer to scientific theories. The results of this study bring to light the crucial role played by the teacher in promoting learning and development of students, by favouring the beginning of argumentative discussions with and among them on topics relating to the discipline taught in the course.
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Argumentation; Higher Education; Qualitative Research; Student-Teacher Interaction; Teacher’s Questions