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Investigating the Positioning of College Students' Intragroup Discussion and Intergroup Debate via Socio-scientific Issues: An Analytical Approach Based on Toulmin's Pattern.
The purpose of this study was to investigate college students’ positioning and argumentation based on the positioning theory. For one, the processes of how individuals positioned themselves and others were explored during the progression of getting acquaintance via the group discourse activities. For another, the argumentation process, the intergroup positioning, and the listeners’ evaluation toward the two groups in opposite positions were explored in the context of socio-scientific issue. The results of positioning, which presented how the individuals positioned themselves, others, and different groups, were investigated by the quantitative data, a questionnaire. Besides, protocols derived from the argumentation process were analyzed. The results of how the group members co-constructed the arguments were presented by the qualitative data. Several findings were as follows. As for the intragroup positioning, the group members had the tendency of being self-effacing, their positioning were influenced by social schema while they first met each other. After getting acquaintance, the group members’ self-positioning was improved, the influence of stereotypes relevant to social schema was reduced. This indicates that the intragroup positioning was reconstructed during the acquaintance process. As for the construction of argumentation, the results show that group members always first identified the data which corroborated the claims during debate process; the data would eventually be transferred into warrants. Furthermore, qualifiers were proposed to eliminate the efficacy of rebuttals. The importance of data diversity and data interpretation were emphasized. Moreover, the promotion of positioning was related to group members’ degree of contribution. Finally, as for the intergroup argumentation and positioning, while the group members encountered debates, they provided pragmatic resolutions to explicit the data which can be used to strengthen their argumentation. Both rational and emotional arguments were proposed during the debates. The audiences’ evaluation toward the debaters was influenced by the completeness of the debaters’ arguments and how they interpreted the counterarguments. This indicates that the audiences retained relatively rational standpoints during the virtual context of argumentation. The study was based on the positioning theory associated with Toulmin’s scheme for argumentation to explore college students’ positioning and argumentation process. Implications for research and curriculum design were discussed.
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