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Structured dialogue supports critical reasoning

Critical reasoning, rather than superficial discussion, can be encouraged by imposing a structure on students’ messages.

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The Cloudworks Team
17 April 2008

Discussion through online forum or conference is often superficial, involving only the trading of ideas and opinions – useful for community building, but inadequate for deep learning. The AcademicTalk tool imposes a structure on students’ discussion with the aim of promoting higher-order dialogical and reasoning skills. Students have to give their messages standard openings, eg “I think...”, “I disagree because...”, “Can you elaborate?...”, “Why do you think that?...”, and when replying to an earlier message certain suggested openings are highlighted to encourage established patterns of argumentation. When using the tool, students were found to engage in deeper, more extended and more varied discussion and argumentation. [Andrew Ravenscroft, Simon McAlister]

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