The impact of learning objectives in argumentative discourse: Strategies, sequences and interaction patterns

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Introduction. The aim of this study was to analyze how oral argumentative strategies, argu-mentative sequences and interaction patterns relate to argumentative content and the required learning objectives. Method. Two different kinds of debates were analyzed. In the first, the participants defended one point of view, while in the second the objective was to reach a consensus. The data was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The participants were 25 first-year university stu-dents. Results: Results showed that participants tended to use a simple argumentative structure, even though there were some differences in the types of counterarguments, rebuttals, argu-mentative sequences and interaction patterns, according to the content and type of debate. When the aim of the debate was to defend a point of view, students were most likely to en-gage in a partial conciliatory interaction pattern, but when the purpose of the debate was to reach agreements, the most significant interaction pattern was alternative discourse, a pattern in which the participants employed strategies such as changing the argumentative focus and disparaging the opponent. However, in certain debate topics, students altered their strategies and interaction patterns, in an attempt to adapt to the purpose of the activity. Discussion and conclusions. The study showed that university students employed argumen-tation typical of everyday contexts, using a series of isolated arguments based on a single point of view, placing excessive emphasis on examples and individual cases, repeating the same argument numerous times, and showing difficulty with relating their arguments through the use of counterargumentation and rebuttal. This suggests a need for university teaching plans to address competencies linked to argumentation and critical thinking from an ecologi-cal, functional and meaningful perspective, for the purpose of contributing to knowledge con-struction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-410
Number of pages28
JournalElectronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Argumentative strategies
  • Higher education
  • Interaction pat-terns
  • Knowledge construction
  • Oral debate


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