Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries

Abstract

The purpose of this quantitative action research study was to document the impact of the use of computer-assisted argument mapping (CAAM) upon high school students’ ability to analyze and compose evidence-based arguments. The study used a one-group pretest posttest design with a convenience sample of the participant researcher’s seventy-one high school sophomores. During the six-week study, each participant generated four sets of artifacts, each consisting of two argument analysis maps from provided source arguments and one argument composition map representing the participant’s position on the given topic. Artifacts were generated at four separate benchmarks, the pretest, week four, week five, and the posttest. Between the pretest and week four, students completed a self-paced computerized tutorial on critical thinking (CT) that emphasized argumentation skills, such as grouping ideas, the parts of an argument, locating arguments in a text, evaluating arguments for errors in logic and credibility, and creating argument maps. In weeks four and five of the study, students applied the skills learned in the tutorial to full-length argumentative articles provided by the participant researcher. Benchmarks for weeks four, five, and the posttest consisted of the same task as the pretest, two analysis maps reconstructing the authors’ arguments and one argument composition map representing the participant’s position on the given topic. Composite scores were analyzed to determine an overall effect, while each component score, analysis and composition, provided an indication of reading comprehension ability and argument construction ability, respectively. The use of CAAM as a means of fostering the CT skills necessary for the comprehension and composition of arguments (analysis, synthesis, and organization) proved beneficial, with the results of the study showing both significance (t=7.7077, crit. t=1.67, ∝= 05, 95% confidence level) and an appreciable effect size (d = .9147).

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