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J Exp Child Psychol. 2017 Jul;159:129-139. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.01.013. Epub 2017 Mar 10.

Learning to argue via apprenticeship.

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Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. Electronic address:


We examined apprenticeship, in the form of interaction with a more capable other, as a mechanism of development of higher-order reasoning skills, specifically argumentation. Over a 1-year period, middle school students engaged in twice-weekly electronic dialogs with a sequence of different peers on a series of social issues. In one group, unbeknownst to participants, a highly capable adult substituted for peers in half of their dialogs. Beginning immediately, increasing with time, and extending to peer-only dialogs on a new topic, the quality of argumentation shown by the experimental group exceeded that of a comparison peer-only group, highlighting the power of apprenticeship as a mechanism in the development of reasoning, a demonstration of both theoretical and applied significance.


Apprenticeship; Argumentation; Cognitive Development; Collaboration; Critical Thinking; Discourse; Expert Modeling; Reasoning; Social Learning; Sociocultural Approach

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