Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

E. Michael Nussbaum

Number of Pages



Studies indicate that collaborative argumentation can aid students' understanding and improve their problem-solving skills. This study used the online environment WebCT to explore the improvement of argumentation through goal instruction. In previous studies of collaborative argumentation using WebCT, small groups of students discussed controversial questions. Some groups were given a general goal to persuade, but others were given an elaborated goal to generate reasons and evidence. The effect that the elaborated goal had compared to the general goal was analyzed. This study replicated those previous studies, with some alterations. The goal was to evaluate two interventions designed to increase argument balance and development; Elaborating the question did enhance balance and argument development, especially for low-knowledge students. The reason condition had some effectiveness with some knowledge interactions. Also, asking students to complete a survey and declare their position before engaging in discussion tended to reduce balance.


Argumentation; Collaborative; Enhancing; Environment; Online

Controlled Subject

Educational psychology; Educational technology

File Format


File Size

2088.96 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit