Open Access
Ong, Yann Shiou
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
January 18, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Richard Alan Duschl, Dissertation Advisor
  • Richard Alan Duschl, Committee Chair
  • Julia Diane Plummer, Committee Member
  • William Carlsen, Committee Member
  • Marcela Borge, Outside Member
  • epistemic practices
  • argumentation
  • productive disciplinary engagement
  • scientific inquiry
  • discourse analysis
  • critique
  • epistemic cognition
  • secondary school
The study reported in this dissertation is a response to the call for school science argumentation interventions to shift from a focus on argument framework towards epistemic criteria valued by the scientific community, and to focus on the practice of critiquing in addition to constructing arguments, as both practices are part of scientific argumentation. In most science classrooms, critique is often, if not only, made by the teacher as expert. This dissertation explores the possibility of sharing the role of critique among the students and the teacher, so as to improve students’ critique practice. The study contrasts an intervention focused on a student-centered critique learning environment with a comparative teacher-centered critique learning environment. The study took place in two small science classes (two groups of triads per class) in a Singapore public school offering an inquiry science course. Students worked in groups to design and implement a science research project over three semesters. The intervention class experienced the intervention curriculum in the first semester that emphasizes students’ critique using scientific soundness criteria valued by scientific communities. Data includes individual students and their group’s performance on a critique activity before and after the intervention phase i.e. pre- and post-test, as well as transcribed video recordings of four group discussion sessions during epistemic activities i.e. making research decisions for the group’s own inquiry or critiquing others’ research artefacts. The data was analyzed using the productive disciplinary engagement in critique and construction (PDE-CC) framework interpreted from Engle and Conant’s productive disciplinary engagement framework. Findings indicate differentiated improvement in PDE-CC across groups within and across classes. Relatively high PDE-CC among the groups was displayed consistently by one of the two intervention class groups. The four guiding principles for fostering PDE-CC were used to explain the differences in group PDE-CC. The principles of problematizing, epistemic authority, and disciplinary accountability were consistently incorporated by the group demonstrating highest PDE-CC among groups, while at least one of these three guiding principles was not incorporated for groups demonstrating lower PDE-CC. Findings imply the student-centered critique intervention was effective in improving students’ critique practices and how students and teachers interact with each other’s ideas play an important role in students’ engagement with an epistemic activity.