Argumentation in Science and Religious Education: An Interdisciplinary Study in British Schools

Sibel Erduran
The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford

Project Summary

How and why did life originate? What is the universe? What is a person? And how do we know?

By eliciting curiosity, such questions fuel students’ motivation to learn. And while religious education can encourage the exploration of larger, philosophical ideas, science lessons rarely do.

To rectify this problem, this project seeks to examine the role that argumentation - forming claims based on logical and rational evidence - can play across subject areas.In scientific education, argumentation is a logical discourse aimed at finding relationships between ideas and evidence. It requires students to formulate and refine claims on the basis of scientific evidence.

The study of religion involves rational discourse on the relationships between ideas and their justification. But while there is a solid body of research on argumentation in science education, there is currently no research on the practice in religious education. Argumentation is thus ripe for new research in the context of religious education.

Methodology and Outputs
Over 36 months, this project will create a cross-curricular professional development program to nurture teachers’ pedagogical skills in teaching argumentation in science and religion. By helping their pupils form and compare complex judgments from different subjects, teachers can improve interdisciplinary learning and ignite curiosity about life’s big questions.

Thirty pupils ages 11–14 from 15 schools will participate as pairs: one science and one RE teacher from each school. We will invite participants to six professional development workshops mediated by university researchers who are also teacher educators. Between each workshop, teachers will collaborate to make plan lessons that supplement their own subject curriculum objectives.

To assess the impact of the intervention, we will gather data from participating teachers and students. Outputs will include research articles and resources for professional development, teaching, and learning. Ultimately, the project will create exemplary practices and benchmarks for enhancing argumentation in science and religious education.

Project Details

Project Duration

1 September 201831 August 2021

Core Funding Area

Big Questions

Initiative

Big Questions in Classrooms

Region of Activity

Europe

TWCF Number

0238

Amount Awarded

$469,354

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