The purpose of this research was to investigate the instructional effects of argument visualization tools (AVTs) by developing and evaluating the use of a tool called the Dialectical Map (DM). In a laboratory experiment, each of 125 participants was randomly assigned to one of three groups: a DM Group that studied with the DM and received training on argumentation concepts, an Argue Group that received argumentation training only, and a Control Group that received no training and did not use the DM. Pre-test data were collected on participants’ basal free-recall ability and judgment of learning. After studying an expositional text on fracking, participants gave a judgment of learning and were tested on critical thinking, recall and comprehension, and argumentative writing. Studying with the DM increased confidence in learning, recall and comprehension, and the use of argumentation in a writing task. In addition to the laboratory experiment, three semester-long classroom implementations were conducted with undergraduate students. Both the instructor and students expressed positive attitudes with their DM experiences. Findings from this thesis provide an insight into prior research on educational benefits of AVTs and have instructional implications for incorporating effective AVTs, such as the DM, in classrooms. Future research will continue on gathering data from multiple settings to improve the design and applications of the Dialectical Map.
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Thesis advisor: Nesbit, John
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