This paper describes the development of a software program that supports argumentative reading and writing, especially for novice students. The software helps readers create a graphic organizer from the text as a knowledge map while they are reading and use their prior knowledge to build their own opinion as new information while they think about writing their essays. Readers using this software can read a text, underline important words or sentences, pick up and dynamically cite the underlined portions of the text onto a knowledge map as quotation nodes, illustrate a knowledge map by linking the nodes, and later write their opinion as an essay while viewing the knowledge map; thus, the software bridges argumentative reading and writing. Sixty-three freshman and sophomore students with no prior argumentative reading and writing education participated in a design case study to evaluate the software in classrooms. Thirty-four students were assigned to a class in which each student developed a knowledge map after underlining and/or highlighting a text with the software, while twenty-nine students were assigned to a class in which they simply wrote their essays after underlining and/or highlighting the text without creating knowledge maps. After receiving an instruction regarding a simplified Toulmin’s model followed by instructions for the software usage in argumentative reading and writing along with reading one training text, the students read the target text and developed their essays. The results revealed that students who drew a knowledge map based on the underlining and/or highlighting of the target text developed more argumentative essays than those who did not draw maps. Further analyses revealed that developing knowledge maps fostered an ability to capture the target text’s argument, and linking students’ ideas to the text’s argument directly on the knowledge map helped students develop more constructive essays. Accordingly, we discussed additional necessary scaffolds, such as automatic argument detection and collaborative learning functions, for improving the students’ use of appropriate reading and writing strategies.
- Argumentative reading and writing
- Electronic text
- Graphic organizer
- Underlining and/or highlighting