“Their Evidence is No Good”: How middle school English Learners and students with low language scores successfully engaged in scientific argument critique

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of the Learning Sciences -- ICLS 2021


International Society of the Learning Sciences

Publisher Location

Bloomington, Indiana

First page number:


Last page number:



Argument critique is an important part of scientific argumentation. This paper explores the affordances of a tool for critiquing classroom arguments in science, the Critical Questions Model of Argument Assessment, and how it benefited students with low English Language Arts (ELA) scores, including English Learners (ELs). Critical questions (CQs) evaluate the strength of scientific arguments. This paper presents a comparative case study of how middle-school science students used CQs in two classrooms with high numbers of students with low ELA scores. We found that asking CQs helped students elaborate their thinking and writing and appropriate argument-related terms. Student confidence for engaging in argument critique grew over the course of the school year. The practice of using peer critique with CQs may have the added benefit of differentiating instruction in schools with high EL populations. Overall, the CQs helped to scaffold more complex student discourse among students with low ELA scores.


Argumentation, Science Education, English Learners, Critical Thinking


English Language and Literature | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching

UNLV article access

Search your library