Endoxa Learning: visualising academic arguments

Endoxa Learning puts academic arguments at the forefront of learning and embeds facts and contextual information where and when it is needed. Here’s how Endoxa allows students to succeed.

At A Level, students need to make strong, coherent arguments in order to get the best marks. The need for persuasive argument has been further emphasised within humanities, business and social sciences following the move to linear A levels, with the requirements for argument creation and analysis increasing across all these subjects.

Although argument is paramount to A Level success, many students focus on factual learning and struggle to link what they know into a strong, coherent argument in their essays and exam answers. Furthermore, as a consequence of the demanding nature of the A Level syllabus, there is often insufficient time to teach students these argumentation skills, resulting in many students not reaching their full potential.

Endoxa Learning provides an innovative solution to this problem. The software represents a new type of pedagogy, which we call “argument first”. Traditionally, students learn the facts first and then start to think about the key arguments. Endoxa Learning puts the arguments at the forefront of learning and embeds facts and contextual information only where and when it is needed. This learning method helps students in developing their argumentation skills, whilst also learning all of their academic material, ensuring students are more confident analyzing and creating strong, coherent arguments within essays and exams. Let’s break down how Endoxa Learning allows students to succeed:

Visualisation

Academic arguments are usually written as prose in essays and books. The arguments in these sources are hard for students to grasp for two reasons: in a body of text, it is not clear which parts comprise the argument; text is linear, but arguments are normally highly branched. These problems have been widely recognised in the argumentation literature:

“Argumentative prose contains many more sentences than just the propositions that are part of the argument, but also... proceeding necessarily linearly, the prose obscures the inferential structure of the argument,” Eftekhari, M. et al. (ReCALL 30(3): 337–354. 2018)

We provide a solution to this. Endoxa Learning presents arguments not as paragraphs of prose, but as diagrams called argument graphs. An argument graph presents academic arguments visually. This not only results in an enormous reduction of the word-count but also makes the structure of the argument immediately clear to students. These powerful argument graphs provide a visual medium for students to learn the academic arguments they need, think critically about academic content and create their own persuasive arguments; skills which are critical for student exam success.

Step by Step

Currently, students learn to create academic arguments mainly by writing essays. The essay format is very flexible, but this makes it very easy to produce unargumentative “waffle” filled writing. Endoxa Learning focuses the student on argument structure whilst teaching the content the student needs for their subject; the use of the argument graph enables students to learn how to structure a concise and effective argument using a simple step by step method.

To do this, each Endoxa Learning lesson moves through an argument graph one argument step at a time (one argument step is displayed in the example below). This breaks even the most complex of arguments into manageable and easy to understand “chunks”, whilst also clearly demonstrating how to write an argument effectively, showing the need for supporting evidence, counter arguments and strong, coherent conclusions. At the end of the lesson, the student can modify and extend the argument graph to add their own ideas. This then forms their visual essay plan for essay assignments or revision, allowing them to nail their argument conclusion and avoid unnecessary “waffling”.

Argument Types

Each argument step is based on an argument type. In Endoxa Learning there are 15 argument types, for example: Confirmation, Cause-and-Effect and Analogy (as seen in the example). These 15 types have been derived from argumentation theory, but have been simplified for A Level use, and allow for any academic argument to be made. The argument types help students to construct precise arguments, including all the necessary premises.

Each argument type has characteristic ways in which it can be supported or undermined; these are captured by the critical questions which are embedded within each argument type. When the student clicks on the argument type box, they will see these critical questions and are encouraged to think critically about counter or supporting arguments that could be used to decrease or increase the strength of the argument. The system keeps track of argument strength and coherence and displays this using colours and graphical symbols.

Visualisation, the step by step approach and the use of argument types make Endoxa Learning a powerful tool for students to learn arguments and to construct their own strong and coherent arguments. To find out more about how Endoxa Learning can benefit your students and your school check out our website or get in touch via email, social media or live chat. Alternatively, find us at The Schools and Academies Show 17-20 Nov 2020. L

Tel: 
teachers@endoxalearning.com