Improving University Argumentative Writing through Online Training
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Abstract

Improving University Argumentative Writing through Online Training

Marìa Luna, Ruth Villalón, Mar Mateos and Elena Martìn (2020 - accepted for publication)
Journal of Writing Research

Writing an argumentation about a controversial issue from contradictory sources is a challenging task. It involves understanding, managing, and generating arguments and counterarguments from different sources to support a final position, conveyed in a formal structure. Despite its difficulty, argumentative writing is not often taught in higher education in Spain. Furthermore, online interventions regarding this type of task are scarce. For this reason, we designed and evaluated virtual training aimed at writing integrative and well-structured arguments in a distance learning university. Sixty-eight undergraduates participated in this pre-post with a control group design. The training included explicit instruction through video lectures and practice exercises with immediate feedback using open online resources (e.g., Moodle). The results show that after the instruction the participants' written products improved both in their structure, the number of arguments for the against-position, and the degree of integration of the two perspectives. However, those products that presented medium or maximum integration were still limited. These results illustrate how online instruction of argumentative writing can be implemented in higher education with positive results. However, students still need more support to expand their skills for generating integrative synthesis. Considering these results, we propose further improvements in the designed training.

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