Collaborative Reasoning


♦ Mindful Instruction of Nonmainstream Children ♦

The goal of the research is to document instructional practices that could give a large boost to the conceptual understanding, thinking skills, language, and motivation of urban underserved children. Intellectually-stimulating, personally-engaging, conceptually-rich instruction targeting African American and Latina/o children, the two largest groups of underserved children in the United States, will be evaluated in the study. The centerpiece of the proposed intervention is a unit of instruction that entails issues in environmental science and public policy and integrates language arts, science, and social science. 36 fifth-grade classrooms serving children from low-income families will participate in the study for a total of approximately 700-800 children. Classes, matched on prior academic achievement, percentage of students qualifying for subsidized meals, and percentages of African American and Latina/o students, are randomly assigned different instructional approaches to use in the curriculum unit. A comprehensive record of collaborative group transactions and other classroom activities will be compiled. Children will be assessed on their: [a] mastery of science/social science concepts and information; [b] transfer of science and social science concepts to a new situation; [c] knowledge of the characteristics of a sound argument; [d] transfer of reasoning strategies from oral discussion to written argument; [e] oral language proficiency; [f] standardized assessment of reading comprehension; and, [g] motivation and engagement. Using microgenetic analysis, the research aims to locate in the detailed record of instructional transactions the critical events that enabled children to acquire and transfer subject-matter concepts and reasoning strategies and which led to heightened engagement.

Funder: IES, U.S. Department of Education
Year: 2008-2013
Amount: $3M

♦ Improving Comprehension and Writing through Reasoned Argumentation ♦

A summative evaluation testing the generalizability and sustainability of Collaborative Reasoning. 20 fourth- and fifth-grade teachers and approximately 900 students. enrolled in their classrooms over a two year period. Participants come from one rural school and urban schools serving low-income neighborhoods, middle-income neighborhoods, and neighborhoods with concentrations of families with limited English proficiency. The sample includes African American, European American, and Latino/a students. Designed as a true experiment, the study compares same-grade pairs of Collaborative Reasoning and control classrooms that were demographically matched. Student performance on several outcome measures-notably, the number of satisfactory arguments, counterarguments, rebuttals, uses of text evidence, and uses of argument stratagems in children's reflective essays-will be evaluated using two- and three-level Hierarchical Linear Models. Evaluation of training program and CR's implementability is also conducted.

Funder: IES, U.S. Department of Education
Year: 2003-2008
Amount: $1.5M

♦ Social Propagation of Argument Strategems ♦

An empirical investigation into the process of internalization and participatory appropriation. An examination is made of the features of social systems, and attributes of actors within those systems, that affect the propagation of argument strategems. We probe questions such as: Are certain children more likely to be innovators who introduce new stratagems while others are more likely to be followers/adopters? Are children more likely to adopt innovations initiated by children similar to themselves with respect to gender, ethnicity, and other characteristics? Are children more likely to emulate examples made by popular children or personal friends? The project involved six fourth-grade classrooms from four different schools: one serving low-middle SES students in a rural area; one serving low SES students in an urban setting; and two serving low-middle SES in urban setting.

Funder: OERI, U.S. Department of Education
Year: 2001-2003
Amount: $500,000

♦ Dynamics of Web-based Collaborative Reasoning (CR) ♦

An exploration of interactional dynamics in web-mediated Collaborative Reasoning discussions involving fourth- and fifth-graders. Participants were diverse children in three classrooms from three demographically and geographically distinct school settings: one had a predominantly European-American student body from low-middle SES in rural area; one served a large African-American student body from low SES urban neighborhood; and one with a more ethnically heterogeneous student body from middle SES). We are excited by the potential of written Web-mediated discussions. Students participated in atleast five sessions of asynchronous web-based CR discussions and 10 in-class CR discussions.

Funder: Internal
Year: 1998
Amount: $100,000