Students who know how to engage in argument from evidence will be able to think critically about claims and their sources.
Argument is the soul of an education because argument forces a writer to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of multiple perspectives - Niel Postman
Arguing from evidence is an integral part of what scientists, engineers, and engaged citizens do. Scientists argue from evidence to reach agreements about the best explanation for a natural phenomenon. Engineers argue from evidence to identify the best solution for a design problem. And if they want to be credible, citizens back up their claims with evidence. Therefore, students need to be taught to defend their own ideas with evidence, as well as “listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on their merits” (Appendix F, NGSS). From healthcare to transportation to environmental stewardship, a myriad of personal and societal issues require citizens to make informed decisions based on their ability to decipher “good science” from “bad science” or claims that are supported with sound evidence from those that are not.
The Common Core State Standards also recognize the importance of arguing from evidence. Standard Mathematical Practice 3 and the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards ask students to “Construct viable arguments and critique reasoning of others," and to “Read, write and speak grounded in evidence" respectively.
Below is an example of how the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence progresses from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
Below are examples of Earth and Space Science performance expectations from the NGSS that incorporate the practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence.
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
K-ESS2-2. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
5-ESS1-1. Support an argument that the apparent brightness of the sun and stars is due to their relative distances from the Earth.
MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
Writing in Science - Arguing from Evidence - Learn more about the importance of arguing from evidence and learn how to teach your students to write in science and specifically to write refutational text.
Making Informed Decisions and Critical Thinking - Learn how to teach your students to make informed decisions and think critically (especially with respect to the barrage of information on the internet). These skills can be applied to any content area.
NSTA webinar - Presentation about the NGSS, with a focus on Arguing from Evidence starting on slide 14.
Introducing and Assessing Argumentation in the Science Classroom - Presentation from Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading (scienceliteracy.org) explaining argumentation and offering ideas about how to assess student learning.
Bozeman Science video about Engaging in Argument from Evidence - This video begins with a discussion of the heliocentric and geocentric model of the Universe that eventually lead to the Copernican Revolution. It highlights the importance of both informal and formal arguments.