Leveraging Epistemological Diversity Through Computer-based Argumentation in the Domain of Probability


The paper is a case study of technology-facilitated argumentation. Several graduate students, the first four authors, present and negotiate complementary interpretations of a diagram generated in a computer-simulated stochastic experiment. Individuals use informal visual metaphors, programming, and formal mathematical analysis to ground the diagram, i.e., to achieve a sense of proof, connection, and understanding. The NetLogo modeling-and-simulation environment (Wilensky, 1999) serves to structure the authors’ grounding, appropriating, and presenting of a complex mathematical construct. We demonstrate individuals’ implicitly diverse explanatory mechanisms for a shared experience. We show that this epistemological diversity, sometimes thought to undermine learning experiences, can, given appropriate learning environments and technological fluency, foster deeper understanding of mathematics and science.

Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences