Separating the relevant from the irrelevant: Factors influencing L1 student teachers’ ability to discern (ir)relevant arguments in time-pressured grammatical discussions
Keywords:grammar teaching, linguistic reasoning, grammatical argumentation, teacher education, critical thinking
Identifying relevant information and evaluating evidence are considered characteristics of critical thinking. These skills are important for language teachers, for example in evaluating pupils’ grammatical reasoning in the context of grammar education. Therefore, the current study has examined whether Dutch language student teachers (N=298) in different educational tracks (Bachelor full-time, Bachelor part-time and Master) are able to distinguish relevant arguments from irrelevant (or incorrect) ones in two grammatical discussions. Results indicate that student teachers are better at evaluating relevant arguments in grammatical discussions than they are at evaluating irrelevant arguments. Multilevel analyses show that the factors partly explaining the Relevant Argument score are students’ education and their Need for Cognition. The factors that partly explain the Irrelevant Argument score on the other hand are the perceived difficulty of the task, and strikingly, age. The paper discusses explanations for these findings, as well as practical implications for teacher education.
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