Increasing Students' Quality of Argumentation by Using Drama in Lower Phase Secondary Education
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In this study it is explored how drama can be used as a teaching tool to foster the quality of students' argumentation about socio-scientific issues in the lower phase of secondary education (ages 12 to 15). Four biology classes of a high school in The Netherlands took part in this study, containing a total of 117 students. Two of these classes formed a control group attending regular lessons, the other two classes attended an intervention in which drama was used as a teaching tool. Both the intervention- and control lessons consisted of the same topics. The following six topics were used: Bee mortality, Bird mortality, Exotic species, Pollution due to medicine, Pollution due to microplastics, and Sustainable holidays. At the start of the lesson series all of the students took a pre-test, and at the end of the lessons all of the students took a post-test, both measuring their quality of argumentation. During the lessons field notes were taken be the researchers, and the final performances of the intervention groups were videotaped and transcribed. The transcriptions from the final performances were scored to measure the quality of argumentation they contained. Qualitative descriptions of the intervention lessons are given, and the data from the pre- and post-surveys is analysed. The results from the pre- and post-tests show an increase in the quality of argumentation for the intervention group. In the post-test the students created more extensive arguments containing more rebuttals than they did in the pre-test. No significant difference in the quality of argumentation for the control group was found. This suggests that drama is a valid teaching tool to help foster the quality of argumentation in the lower phase of secondary education. The qualitative analysis suggests that for students in this age group a strong focus on acquiring information is needed, the students that spend more time researching their topics created plays containing higher quality argumentation, and ended up improving their argumentation the most.