Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education and Human Services


Educational Foundations

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Alina Reznitskaya

Committee Member

Maughn Gregory

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Doug Larkin


The purpose of this study was to examine how expert teachers facilitate inquiry dialogue to contribute to argumentation quality during group discussions in elementary school classrooms. “Argument Literacy,” or the ability to comprehend and formulate arguments, is an important learning outcome identified by the recent Common Core State Standards. Given the value placed on argument skills, we need to know how teachers can support the development of argumentation in their students.

This study examined the facilitation of three expert teachers as it related to the quality of argumentation generated by fifth-grade students engaging in inquiry dialogue. To do this, I analyzed six discussion transcripts from three teachers and conducted follow-up interviews with each teacher. First, I used the transcripts to track the development of student-generated argument threads, or sequences of argument features evoked to respond to a contestable question. After isolating each thread, I developed a record of teacher moves during the same discussion. I analyzed the relationship between the teacher moves and argument threads to explore how teacher moves related to argumentation quality. Following the identification of teacher moves, I interviewed teachers to explore their underlying beliefs concerning facilitation and how those related to specific facilitative interventions.

The findings from the analysis of transcripts suggest that the use of argument threads can enhance existing frameworks for assessing argumentation quality. The use of thread length provided a more nuanced and contextually sensitive picture of quality and helped highlight teacher moves related to quality. The findings also revealed a set of seven commonly used moves that teachers use to support student argumentation. These moves generally focus on clarifying the process of the inquiry and the content of student statements.

Teacher interviews offered additional insights into the underlying beliefs and principles that guided the teacher’s strategic use of moves. I identified three guiding principles, common among the teachers. These principles were shown to align with the more general teacher beliefs about inquiry dialogue and the role of argumentation. Finally, I explored the possible influences of the teachers’ background knowledge on their facilitation and discussed implications for future research and teacher professional development.

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