Academic discipline

Why is the argumentation process important in academic disciplines?
Richard Andrews, professor and director of the Faculty of Education at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, England), can answer this question. Andrews, is a graduate of the University of Oxford (Oxford, England) in English language and literature.

Since 1987 he focused on higher education; Among his interests in research is: the development of writing, argumentation, poetry and research methodologies for the digital era.

For this entry I chose a book by Andrews published in 2009, called: “Argumentation in Higher Education: Improving Practice Through Theory & Research”, it should be noted that this publication is mainly offered to professors, professors and researchers, in order to offer them a guide informative for teaching the skills required in the development of argumentative texts by undergraduate and graduate students. Throughout the book Andrews deals with different topics such as:

  • The importance of arguing.
  • The current state of argumentation in higher education.
  • Generic skills in argumentation.
  • The balance between generic and specific disciplinary arguments.
  • Information and communication technologies, and visual argumentation.

As a theme for this post, I chose to show the importance of argumentation in higher education; Based on the first chapter of Andrews’ book and a series of interviews I conducted with two teachers to demonstrate how they apply the argumentation in their disciplines and later share it with their students in the classroom.

From the beginning it is important to recognize that any student who makes the decision to access higher education, should produce argumentative texts during their studies regardless of the disciplinary field to which they belong. This is one of the main reasons why it is necessary to discuss this topic and how it is reflected in the classrooms. Andrews begins his text by specifying four main reasons why to argue:

  • University students must do it because it is required throughout their courses and the working world hopes that they can perform this task later.
  • The advances in knowledge are regularly approached from the argument. Increasingly teachers, researchers and students have the task of analyzing a problem from different perspectives, which is why they will have to use argumentation.
  • Well-executed argumentation allows the importance and meaning of the subject spoken of in the texts to be recognized. Then, the argument provides clarity and persuasion.
  • Argumentation is vital during university life and it is in universities where you can acquire more skills to argue.

Taking these points into account, we can appreciate that argumentation is a vital task in the lives of university students. It is imperative then, that students take ownership of this process, they should be the first to recognize the importance of argumentation in the course of their studies.

Of course, this “appropriation” will only happen to the extent that teachers help them understand how argumentation works in their different disciplines and fields of knowledge.

Professor Emma Adriana de la Rosa, a professor at a university in southwestern Colombia and working in the humanities faculty of her university, is in charge of teaching a subject of this department called “language” through which the students of Social communication-journalism, graphic design and advertising can understand different linguistic theories that allow them to be more critical in the analysis of communication contents.

The teacher agreed to answer some questions in which she demonstrates the challenges of applying the argumentation in this subject and how it helps her students to use the theories of language in their professional fields.

As we could appreciate, it is important to apply the argumentation within the classroom, since in this way the students improve their critical capacity and their discussions acquire greater criteria. However, Andrews shows us two other points that must be taken into account in order to understand the argumentation process.

As we could appreciate, it is important to apply the argumentation within the classroom, since in this way the students improve their critical capacity and their discussions acquire greater criteria. However, Andrews shows us two other points that must be taken into account in order to understand the argumentation process.

The first thing is that the student must acquire a mastery of the discipline in which he finds himself and find the appropriate argumentative way, taking into account that according to whether it is an interdisciplinary field or not, it will be his level of complexity. On the other hand, the second point is that the teacher or tutor must be a means between the student and the discipline.

It is of great importance that the teacher makes explicit what are the rules or the criteria of the assignments that he leaves to his students, Andrews argues that part of the problems presented in the tasks of the students occur due to the lack of clarity in the instructions given by the teacher, for which they begin to make assumptions about what they should do, leading to the assignment not being completed properly.

Another important point that leaves the reading of the chapter of Andrews, is to know the relevance that has for the student to be fed back by his guide about his writing, the student expects the teacher to indicate the flaws that he has had and how he can improve them , doing so, your argumentation process will be developed in a better way, since the student feels motivated knowing that doing so will improve his grade. In addition to this, the teacher has the task of helping the student to visualize how disciplinary argumentation can be applied in his daily work life.

Professor Diego Martinez, who belongs to the same university as Professor Emma, is a professor in the faculty of engineering. In the interview that I will leave next, we will be able to show how he helps his students to connect the theories they see in the classroom with the daily work activities of an engineer; In addition, he talks about the importance of students having a transdisciplinary perspective, since this gives them a broader vision of what they are analyzing.

By way of conclusion, we can say that it is impossible to separate the task of arguing within the different disciplines of higher education, argumentation is what will allow future professionals to adequately support their day-to-day tasks.

However, argumentation is not a process that students acquire on their own, but rather their tutors or teachers are what they have the task of directing them in the argumentative styles of each discipline. This shows us a conclusion relatively similar to that of my previous entry, in which the academic Ursula Wingate, suggested that the teacher was a student’s guide through the different fields of knowledge.

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