Munich Center of the Learning Sciences

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Domain-Specificity of Scientific Reasoning and Argumentation

Scientific reasoning and argumentation are competences that are relevant from pre-school education and extending to primary, secondary and tertiary education. Although the Learning Sciences offer a variety of approaches that regard scientific reasoning and argumentation as domain-general competences, there is growing consensus that competent scientific reasoning and argumentation also requires strong knowledge about relevant concepts and acceptable arguments within the particular domain (e.g., biology, medicine, mathematics). Therefore, several PhD projects develop approaches to disentangle domain-general from domain-specific components of abilities related to scientific reasoning and argumentation.

Exemplary topics, research questions and possible advisors:

Exemplary project title Main research question Possible project advisors 
Domain-specific and domain-general predictors of scientific reasoning in biology and mathematics What domain-specific and domain-general facets of scientific reasoning can be differentiated by comparing the domains of biology and mathematics? What are commonalities and specific characteristics with regard to the competence structure in the two domains? What are the implications for sustainable instructional support that affects scientific reasoning skills in general, and within different domains? Prof. Dr. Birgit Neuhaus
Prof. Dr. Stefan Ufer                                                                                                                                              
Interpreting examples as evidence in mathematics What is the role of example-based argumentation for mathematical reasoning and proof? How do early reasoning abilities correspond to the ability to evaluate different kinds of mathematical conjectures? What are educational implications for supporting the development of mathematical reasoning skills? Prof. Dr. Stefan Ufer
Prof. Dr. Beate Sodian
Professional development and scholarship by using evidence in university study programs in medicine and biology What are the predictors of evidence-based scientific reasoning in students in the domains of medicine and biology? What are domain-general and domain-specific components of such a structural competence model? To what extent can this model inform the design of instructional support for students on their path towards professionalism and scholarship? Prof. Dr. Martin Fischer
Prof. Dr. Birgit Neuhaus
Prof. Dr. Frank Fischer