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IES Grant

Title: Improving Students' Comprehension and Construction of Arguments
Center: NCER Year: 2002
Principal Investigator: Britt, Anne Awardee: Northern Illinois University
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $358,876
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305H020039

Purpose: In this study, the researchers aimed to understand how undergraduate students identify, represent, and construct both simple and complex arguments.

The three primary goals were to

  1. Understand argument identification, namely the cues that readers rely on to detect an argument and how their reasoning processes become engaged.
  2. Examine connected argument processing, namely how students become able to coordinate information into coherent and complex arguments.
  3. Determine what types of information students include when constructing arguments.

Using the findings of this research, the team then developed a web-based instructional program for high school and college students to teach them how to better comprehend and write arguments.

Project Activities: Over the course of the project this team conducted 19 small-scale experiments. The results of these experiments were then used to create four different paper and pencil tutorials that were then tested for effectiveness. These tutorials were then modified based on the experimental findings to create three web-based modules. Each module was a stand-alone lesson and could be completed in about 20 to 35 minutes.

Related IES Projects: Creating a Usable Environment to Teach Argument Comprehension and Production Skills (R305H050133)


ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications:

Journal articles

Britt, M.A., and Gabrys, G. (2004). Collecting Responses Through Web Page Drag and Drop. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36(1): 52–68.

Britt, M.A., Wiemer-Hastings, P., Larson, A., and Perfetti, C.A. (2004). Automated Feedback on Source Citation in Essay Writing. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 14: 359–374.

Britt, M.A., Wiemer-Hastings, P., Larson, A., and Perfetti, C.A. (2004). Using Intelligent Feedback to Improve Sourcing and Integration in Students' Essays. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 14(3): 359–374.

Butler, J.A., and Britt, M.A. (2011). Investigating Instruction for Improving Revision of Argumentative Essays. Written Communication, 28(1): 70–96.

Larson, M., Britt, M.A., and Larson, A. (2004). Disfluencies in Comprehending Argumentative Texts. Reading Psychology, 25(3): 205–224.

Wolfe, C.R. (2012). Individual Differences in the "Myside Bias" in Reasoning and Written Argumentation. Written Communication, 29(4): 477–501.

Wolfe, C.R., and Britt, M.A. (2008). The Locus of the Myside Bias in Written Argumentation. Thinking and Reasoning, 14(1): 1–27.

Wolfe, C.R., Britt, M.A., and Butler, J.A. (2009). Argumentation Schema and the Myside Bias in Written Argumentation. Written Communication, 26(2): 183–209.