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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Martina Nieswandt

Second Advisor

Florence R. Sullivan

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Science and Mathematics Education


The purpose of this case study was to provide benefit to preservice and inservice science teachers, who have an interest in applying scientific argumentation in their high school chemistry instructions, by investigating role of question prompts and an interactive simulation supporting the development of scientific argumentation. In particular, the study examined the quality of students’ arguments changing over time in scientific argumentation when they constructed and defended their arguments using the “Gas Properties” computer simulation. For this purpose, forty-seven11th grade students from four classes first worked in pairs and then, all the pairs returned the classroom for discussion. One pair was selected as a focal group by their chemistry teachers within each class resulting in a total of four focal groups. The chemistry teachers posed the driving question of Part I to familiarize students with scientific argumentation while exploring the effect of gravity on the behavior of air molecules in space. Then, the teachers challenged the students with the driving question of Part II to help students construct and defend more elaborate scientific arguments while comparing the behaviors of air and Helium molecules in space. I examined what type of arguments participants found convincing and also searched which conditions (i.e. challenged by the driving question, counter-arguments, peer question or self-questions, or prompted by representation of investigation, teacher questions, or similar arguments) helped students to improve their arguments in scientific argumentation.

The results depicted that in pair discussions, argumentation was a way of participants’ collectively supporting a scientific claim based on evidence from the interactive simulation and trying to agree on conclusions drawn from this evidence. Though, only two focal groups generated the highest quality of arguments with the waxing and waning amount of consensus over time from Part I to Part II. On the other hand, in classroom discussions focal groups tried to win their opponents over to their points of view and to weaken opposing views with making their evidence visible on the interactive simulation, which led four focal groups to produce the highest quality of arguments from Part I to Part II.