What's your claim: Developing pupils' historical argument skills using asynchronous text based computer conferencing


By David Martin, Caroline Coffin & Sarah North, published 1st March 2007

The potential that e-conferencing and message boarding have to engage pupils in historical debate and to enhance their ability and inclination to argue is increasingly well understood, as practice reported in these pages recently and the success and expansion of the Historical Association’s Centenary Debates initiative both demonstrate. In this article, the Arguing in History team from the Open University provide us with important insights, grounded in systematic research and in their ongoing experience of facilitating message board debates, into the ways in which e-conferencing technologies can be used to develop pupils’ grasp of argument and to engage pupils, including those whom we rarely otherwise engage, in argument processes. They also show how reflecting on the new can help us rethink things that we often take for granted, not least the language of the history classroom: are we really helping pupils develop a grasp of argument, for example, when we encourage them to make ‘points’, or should we encourage them to make ‘claims’ and ‘counter-claims’ instead?

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