Improving Science Writing in Research Methods Classes Through Computerized Argument Diagramming


The purpose of this study was to characterize the ways in which psychologists address research hypothesis risk in academic articles, and to support undergraduates in learning to write about such risk using argument diagramming pre-writing activities. First, 90 articles recently published in top social, developmental, and cognitive psychology journals were examined for their presentation of research hypothesis ‘risk’ – an element of the intellectual merit of a research study denoting the novelty and importance of the study being conducted. Second, an experimental study was conducted involving 82 students in undergraduate research methods classes. They were assigned to either argument diagram or traditional instruction conditions. Research reports were coded for explicit discussion of risk. Students using argument diagramming were significantly more likely to write about risk when compared to matched classes given no diagramming support.

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