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30 November, 2021 06:15:44 PM
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Enhancing argumentation skills

The researchers need to be aware of the ‘qualifier’ which limits the strength of the argument and state that the arguments may not be true in all cases. If they use some qualifiers such as always or never, their claims may not be supported or justified.
Alaul Alam
Enhancing argumentation skills

Argumentation is the critical process of sharing thoughts. It refers to some sort of cognitive skills related to critical thinking and reasoning. It is considered as one of the most essential skills to solve many complex issues in the modern age with logic and reasoning. It teaches someone how to draw a conclusion looking through different lens.

In the social science research the researchers are needed to be equipped with argument skills to clarify the findings of their studies. It is obvious that the analytical ability of a researcher should be much more than the common people. Both for deductive and inductive study argument skills of the researchers must be pivotal.

In the study of logical reasoning, there are two categories of arguments; one is deductive and the other is inductive. It is simply said that deductive study draws a specific statement from general context while in case of inductive study the journey goes from specific to general statement.

However, as a research fellow at the Institute of Bangladesh Studies (IBS) recently I have had a scope to attend a special class that was held to enhance argument skills of the researchers. The class was conducted jointly by the two renowned academics of Rajshahi University, Professor Dr. Jakir Hossain and Professor Dr. Rabiul Islam. They addressed Toulmin Model of Argument.

For the first time I heard about Toulmin Model on that day. The name of this model was quite new not only to me but also to all the research fellows who attended the class. The British philosopher Stephen Toulmin introduced this model in the twentieth century. According to him, good and realistic arguments are formed with six component parts, i.e. data, claim, warrants, qualifiers, rebuttals and backing. In the academic argument, behind every claim there are facts and evidences to justify the claim. There needs to make a ground on which the claim is based.

Without any logical ground of the clam, the claim cannot be accepted, rather many will stand against the claim already shown. Again, warrant is a statement that connects between claim and data. It supports the data and provides the grounds to make the audience understand the validity of the data.

However, the researchers need to be aware of the ‘qualifier’ which limits the strength of the argument and state that the arguments may not be true in all cases. If they use some qualifiers such as always or never, their claims may not be supported or justified. So, it is better to use the qualifiers such as some or many to help limit the claim, which can add strength to the claim.

In academic arena to validate one’s thoughts or claims it is a must to acknowledgement of another valid view of the situation. This is called ‘rebuttal’. Through the rebuttals someone can establish unbiased thoughts or claims, which are more logical than blindly pushing for a single interpretation of the situation.

Then comes the question to back the claim. It may be supplementary to the warrant statement. In many cases the warrant statement may be found implicit, so the ‘backing’ provides the specific point to be argued that justifies the warrant.

However, it is evident that the novice researchers and academics struggle much to establish the validity of their argumentations or statements. The reasons are many but the one mentionable thing is that in our academic arena we see a dearth of argument skills amid many. Poor and unsystematic argumentation fail to address the validity of the information and have little scopes to convey the expected outcomes in this regard.

Not only that, many of us may be rich in thoughts in the academic arena and they see scopes enough to prove their claim but they can hardly shape these into words. It is claimed that language difficulty is the major cause for a researcher or an academic in case of transforming their thoughts in words. Certainly, it is one of the causes but we see, there are many who struggle to transform thoughts into words despite having language proficiency.

Researchers have found that most of the students face difficulties when they are asked to make a write-up of their own. In the age of digitization instead of nurturing creativity students, teachers and researchers have been the slaves of the internet. Copy-paste culture has been so pervasive in the academic arena, especially in the developing countries where despite violating research norms the offenders hardly face any punishment.

Easy access of information weakens our thinking faculty and in many cases we are becoming dependent on the thoughts of others available on internet. As our thinking is not organized in many cases, it would be really tough to turn our thinking into words let alone enhancing academic argument skills. Again, one thing is really frustrating when we observe the researchers choosing a comfortable zone averting the contradicting issues from the literature. Certainly, it denies ethics of any study.

However, the claims of any study are validated with arguments and reasons following scientific approaches, it is a must for every academic to enrich academic argument skills. In this regard, Toulmin Model of Argument can be considered one of the best tools to proceed with realistic arguments that ultimately contribute enormously for deductive and inductive study and enhance argument skills of the academics.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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