Arguing in Facebook – Pilot Project

The value of developing solid, well-founded argumentation skills which can be applied across domains has been established for years in secondary and higher education (e.g. Pontecorvo 1993). Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook have the potential to host and support argumentative knowledge construction (AKC). However, little is known about how to use SNS for AKC. Existing argumentation practices in informal SNS lack elaboration and argumentative quality. Contributing to this problem may be the commonly frivolous uses of SNS, associated with interactions at a personal level like keeping in touch with friends and sharing everyday experiences.
To advance learners’ argumentation skills, graphically represented computer-supported argumentation scripts have been often used. Embedded guidance through scripts is becoming increasingly more persuasive, adaptive and automated. So far, however, there is little to no systematic research on the educational potential of SNS, their alleged negative influence on users, or the facilitation of learning in SNS through scripts.
In this pilot project, we investigate the potential benefits of graphically represented computer-supported argumentation scripts. The influence of individual preparation by use of arguments on processes and outcomes of AKC is compared to purely collaborative settings in a controlled experiment.
A follow-up field study using Facebook explores how an academic debate continues to impact learners’ voluntary Facebook use when opening up the discussion from dyads discussing synchronously in the lab (i) to larger groups of learners discussing asynchronously in the wild and (ii) to their real circle of Facebook friends.