Using Critical Integrative Argumentation to Assess Socioscientific Argumentation across Decision-Making Contexts

Rachel A. Sparks, P. Citlally Jimenez, Caitlin K. Kirby, Jenny M. Dauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Socioscientific issues (SSI) are often used to facilitate students’ engagement in multiple scientific practices such as decision-making and argumentation, both of which are goals of STEM literacy, science literacy, and integrated STEM education. Literature often emphasizes scientific argumentation over socioscientific argumentation, which involves considering social factors in addition to scientific frameworks. Analyzing students’ socioscientific arguments may reveal how students construct such arguments and evaluate pedagogical tools supporting these skills. In this study, we examined students’ socioscientific arguments regarding three SSI on pre- and post-assessments in the context of a course emphasizing SSI-based structured decision-making. We employed critical integrative argumentation (CIA) as a theoretical and analytical framework, which integrates arguments and counterarguments with stronger arguments characterized by identifying and refuting counterarguments. We hypothesized that engaging in structured decision-making, in which students integrate multidisciplinary perspectives and consider tradeoffs of various solutions based upon valued criteria, may facilitate students’ development of integrated socioscientific arguments. Findings suggest that students’ arguments vary among SSI contexts and may relate to students’ identities and perspectives regarding the SSI. We conclude that engaging in structured decision-making regarding personally relevant SSI may foster more integrated argumentation skills, which are critical to engaging in information-laden democratic societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number644
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • STEM literacy
  • argumentation
  • critical integrative argumentation
  • decision making
  • postsecondary science
  • science literacy
  • socioscientific issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Computer Science Applications


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