Learning to teach argumentation: Facilitated reflection on a pre-service curriculum in South Africa

02 Aug 2016

In South Africa, critical thinking is a prominent aim of education. Argumentation (the processes and products of arguing) is central to critical thinking and important in science and technology, but teachers have not been trained in classroom methods. This article reports an evaluation of the university-based part of a programme to train science and technology student teachers to teach argumentation. Observations of the university sessions produced detailed descriptions of the enacted curriculum with respect to argumentation and the teaching of argumentation. A model called SIMPL facilitated critical reflection by the programme's teacher educators. These reflections validated course structures, identified key assumptions made by teacher educators and clarified the interplay between student teachers as learners, and teachers? and teacher educators? instructional roles. The findings showed that while the curriculum provided student teachers with ample experience of argumentation and opportunities to plan for and teach peers, they needed more support in facilitating argumentation discussions and drawing on sufficient, relevant science in peer teaching. SIMPL allowed teacher educators to realise they had not identified or differentiated student teachers? learning of argumentation from learning to teach argumentation. Implications for future cohorts and the application of SIMPL to better understand the integration of aspects of training are discussed.