Dr. Sabrina Dittrich

Dissertation Title

Argumentieren als Methode zur Problemlösung: Eine Unterrichtsstudie zur mündlichen Argumentation von
Schülerinnen und Schülern in kooperativen Settings im Geographieunterricht

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Frank Schäbitz


Problems are encountered in a wide variety of dimensions: They can generally be of a social or private nature and can be classified in a continuum from simple to complex. As every individual is confronted with problems during the course of his or her life, the goal of the education is to prepare the pupils for their solution, thus completing the circle between school and day-to-day life.

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In addition to the general attempts to classify problems, the question as to geography-specific problems also arises. The basis for a definition of these can be the geographical concepts. The geographical concepts comprise the seven concepts placespacescalechangediversityinteraction and perception & representation. They originated in England, but are gaining increasing recognition also in Germany as they represent the geographic perspective with which the contents can be considered. On this basis, the present paper formulates geography-specific questions that can be transferred to any geographic contents. They can thus help pupils with the functional evaluation of the contents.

In addition to highlighting geographic problems, the paper also focuses on the problem-solving process. Problem solving is one of the core competences that should be promoted during the education. Geography lessons are particularly suitable for this, as current social contents are covered. In the present cases the content considered as the results of the SFB 806 – Our Way to Europe.

It is assumed that argumentatoin is a emthod for solving solutoins. Within the context of communication competence, argumentation plays an important role also for the lessons. The argumentation competence can be divided into the areas of reception, production
and interaction. As problems are often solved in groups, the aspect of interaction is of particular interest for the solving of problems. In view of the apparent relationship between problem solving and argumentation, the goal of this paper is to investigate this relationship. It aims to highlight how the process of problem solving takes place and what role argumentation plays in the solving of problems. Furthermore it sets out to identify the characteristics of strong argumentation. On this basis, the factors influencing the argumentation are identified that impact the argumentation and hence the solving of problems.

As a method to this end, a lesson unit was developed that presents the pupils with problems to be solved in cooperative settings. The group work was recorded using dictating machines, transcribed and then evaluated with respect the answering of the research questions.

The results confirm that argumentation is a method for solving problems and allow a modification of the problem-solving process with respect to the sequence of phases for simple and complex problems. Furthermore, characteristics of strong argumentation were identified and, in some cases, specified. An important result to come of the work is the highlighting of factors influencing the argumentation process, including reading the question (several times), asking of additional questions, making of notes, thinking aloud, use of examples or the presentation of the solution. Also identified was the immense importance of the geographical concepts which, according to the results obtained, can be used as a basis for planning lessons, but also as a means of differentiation, and which can lead to a metacognitive reflection on the contents.



Since 2014: Ph.D. student at Seminar for Geography and Education, University of Cologne.

2013: State examination (1st) in Geographie and German, University of Cologne

1st State examination thesis: Differenzierung als Herausforderung – Der Umgang mit heterogenen Lerngruppen im Geographieunterricht aus Sicht von Lehrerinnen und Lehrern



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