Introductory Module on Scientific Argumentation

​This introductory module on scientific argumentation can be executed as four sessions that are each 45-minutes, or fewer sessions that are longer (e.g. one 3-hour session). If held as four sessions, the agenda includes a “Try it with your students!” section to encourage teachers to implement some argumentation aspect before the next session. The following session then begins with time for teachers to share their experiences, as well as artifacts of their students’ argumentation (e.g. writing, video). These sections are optional. 


  • Teachers will be introduced to four areas of argumentation in which students need extra support: 1) Evidence, 2) Reasoning, 3) Student Interaction and 4) Competing Claims.
  • Teachers will develop an understanding of argumentation as a social process in which students build, question and critique claims using evidence and reasoning.
  • Teachers will be introduced to a Card Sort as an instructional activity that encourages students to think about what evidence does and does not support a claim.
  • Teachers will be introduced to a Card Sort as an instructional activity that promotes students use of evidence to evaluate multiple claims.
  • Teachers will be introduced to the Reasoning Tool as an instructional activity that supports students in articulating the link between their evidence reasoning.
  • Teachers will design a new lesson or revise an existing lesson to integrate argumentation into their science instruction.*
  • Teachers will identify areas of argumentation that are challenging for their students.*

*Note: These final two goals are only applicable if the module is implemented as multiple sessions


The agenda for this module’s sessions can be found within each session’s page. However, you can also view a downloadable version of the agenda that cuts across all four sessions in this introductory module.

Session NameDescriptionLength
Session #1: What is the role of evidence in a scientific argument?This session introduces the four areas of argumentation that students need extra support in, and then focuses specifically on the role of evidence.45 minutes
Session #2: How does considering competing claims support students’ use of evidence and reasoning?This session illustrates how engaging students in competing claims supports their use of evidence and reasoning, and also deepens their understanding of the science content.45 minutes
Session #3: What is the role of reasoning in a scientific argument? This session focuses on the role of reasoning, and introduces an instructional strategy that can help students incorporate reasoning into their written arguments.45 minutes
Session #4: How do we support students in interacting with peers during argumentation?This session highlights the interactive nature of argumentation using an activity in which students analyze data with peers.45 minutes