Written argumentation - online and off. A study of addressivity in argumentative students texts

Hege Myklebust, Sissel Høisæter



Research shows that teachers find it hard to teach students to argue in writing. In this article we investigate how students in upper secondary school argue in two different communicative settings, and how the intended audience may have influenced the way students construct their arguments.

A class of students in the subject social science was instructed to write a text where they argue for how we may best prevent crime. The text was to be handed in as homework within the week. At school, the same students were instructed to write a text in an online discussion forum about a topic relevant to social science, where they argue for their opinion. We collected 34 texts from 17 students in one class, one from each of the two communicative situations.

Our findings show that when arguing for the teacher the students tended to argue with intellectual appeal, using data from reliable sources. When they write for the general public online, they tend to argue with emotional appeal, using data from their own values instead of other sources.

Our findings may contribute to improve the teaching of written argumentation, and our article may be a contribution to the debate about authentic writing situations, currently taking place among writing researchers across the world.


Emneord (Nøkkelord)

Writing, communication, argumentation, audience, addressivity, rhetoric


PDF (English)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5617/adno.4727

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ISSN 1504-9922