Middle school students’ informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality in socioscientific issues: epistemological beliefs and issue familiarity as predictors

Uygun, Cansu Başak
The purpose of this study was to examine middle school students’ informal reasoning modes, and argumentation quality regarding three different SSI, namely, space explorations (SPE), genetically modified organisms (GMO), and nuclear power plants (NPP); and to investigate how well middle school students’ epistemological beliefs (the dimensions of source/certainty, development, and justification) and issue familiarity predict their informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality. For this purpose, correlational research design was used. A total of 465 students (7th and 8th grade) from eight public middle schools in Çankaya constituted the sample through convenient sampling. All data were collected in the Fall Semester of 2020-2021 Academic Year. The middle school students’ epistemological beliefs were obtained through Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire adapted into Turkish by Ozkan (2008), whereas issue familiarity was obtained through Issue Familiarity Form. The middle school students’ informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality were obtained through open-ended questions adapted by Chang and Chiu (2008), and Christenson and colleagues (2012). The data obtained from open-ended questions were analyzed qualitatively first, then transformed into quantitative data. Descriptive statistics showed that middle school students had fairly sophisticated epistemological beliefs, whereas their issue familiarity, informal reasoning modes, and argumentation quality varied across different SSI. Multiple regression analyses indicated that middle school students’ epistemological beliefs (except the dimension of justification) predicted their informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality. Moreover, middle school students’ issue familiarity made statistically significant contribution to the prediction of their informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality regarding space explorations and nuclear power plants.


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Citation Formats
C. B. Uygun, “Middle school students’ informal reasoning modes and argumentation quality in socioscientific issues: epistemological beliefs and issue familiarity as predictors,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.