Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Jazlin Ebenezer


The overarching goal of this three-article five-chapter dissertation was to develop university students’ argument-counterargument integration abilities in persuasive essay writing on an ill-structured issue pertaining to black African immigrants and African Americans. Article One consisted of using phenomenography as a research approach to identify the qualitatively different ways university students perceive black African immigrants and African Americans. The university participants had 24 perceptions in which 10 pertained to black African immigrants and 14 to African Americans. The perceptions were grouped into six descriptive categories. The variations in perceptions were then used as statements for argumentation. The study implies that university students’ perceptions can be translated into arguments or claims to teach argumentation. Article Two is a mixed methods study that examined the effectiveness of criteria instruction and collaborative reasoning on university students’ argumentation abilities. The study consisted of 23 participants in the experimental group and 17 in the control. The following data were collected over the course of 10 weeks: participants' pre-tests, mid-tests, post-tests, and final term papers; audio recordings of the collaborative reasoning group discussions; and observation notes. Analyses were done using a rubric, statistical tests, and dialogue types. The Mann-Whitney U test indicated that while there was no significant statistical difference between the experimental group and control group at the start of study (pre-test), there was a significant statistical difference between the groups on the mid-test, post-test, and final term paper. The findings indicate that the experimental group exhibited better argument-counterargument integration on the writing assessments as a result of learning the criteria instruction and participating in collaborative reasoning. A qualitative analysis revealed that mixed dialogue transpired in each collaborative reasoning group. The study implies that criteria instruction and collaborative reasoning can be used to develop university students’ argumentative discourse. Article Three is a case study that documented two first-year university students’ experiences in the learning of argument-counterargument integration in persuasive essay writing. Learning the criteria instruction for argumentation and participating in collaborative reasoning groups helped the case study university students (one) construct arguments using key elements specified in modified TAP, (two) discuss and explore the ill-structured issue with other university students, and (three) acquire information to develop their arguments and counterarguments. The study implies that educators meet with university students independently and recurrently to monitor students’ learning since paper analyzing is not enough to comprehend students’ knowledge and understanding of argumentation.