Contemporary educational argumentation: A multimodal perspective

Coffin, C. (2009). Contemporary educational argumentation: A multimodal perspective. Argumentation, 23(4) pp. 513–530.



In contemporary educational contexts there is considerable variation in how argumentation works and what forms and styles it takes. Influencing factors include the educational purpose and task, the level of education, and the discipline or curriculum subject in which it occurs. This paper offers a theoretical framework and a set of multimodal analytical tools which can provide a rich and systematic account of such variation. Using naturalistic data from three different educational sites I illustrate how such a framework reveals the diverse ways in which students use language and other modes of meaning making as they engage in processes of argumentation. In particular, I consider how new technologies have caused shifts in the distribution of meaning across different semiotic modes (such as visual images, space, colour and graphics) and how this impacts upon both argumentation process and product. The educational implications of such changes are also considered.

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