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SEP7: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

The study of science and engineering should produce a sense of the process of argument necessary for advancing and defending a new idea or an explanation of a phenomenon and the norms for conducting such arguments. In that spirit, students should argue for the explanations they construct, defend their interpretations of the associated data, and advocate for the designs they propose. (NRC Framework 2012, p. 73)


Introduction to SEP7: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

from NGSS Appendix F: Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS

The study of science and engineering should produce a sense of the process of argument necessary for advancing and defending a new idea or an explanation of a phenomenon and the norms for conducting such arguments. In that spirit, students should argue for the explanations they construct, defend their interpretations of the associated data, and advocate for the designs they propose. (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 73)  

Argumentation is a process for reaching agreements about explanations and design solutions. In science, reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential in identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon. In engineering, reasoning and argument are needed to identify the best solution to a design problem. Student engagement in scientific argumentation is critical if students are to understand the culture in which scientists live, and how to apply science and engineering for the benefit of society. As such, argument is a process based on evidence and reasoning that leads to explanations acceptable by the scientific community and design solutions acceptable by the engineering community. 

Argument in science goes beyond reaching agreements in explanations and design solutions. Whether investigating a phenomenon, testing a design, or constructing a model to provide a mechanism for an explanation, students are expected to use argumentation to listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on their merits. Scientists and engineers engage in argumentation when investigating a phenomenon, testing a design solution, resolving questions about measurements, building data models, and using evidence to evaluate claims. 


Distinguishing Practices In Science from Those In Engineering

from A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (page 52)

7. Engaging in Argument from Evidence 
In science, reasoning and argument are essential for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a line of reasoning and for finding the best explanation for a natural phenomenon. Scientists must defend their explanations, formulate evidence based on a solid foundation of data, examine their own understanding in light of the evidence and comments offered by others, and collaborate with peers in searching for the best explanation for the phenomenon being investigated.
In engineering, reasoning and argument are essential for finding the best possible solution to a problem. Engineers collaborate with their peers throughout the design process, with a critical stage being the selection of the most promising solution among a field of competing ideas. Engineers use systematic methods to compare alternatives, formulate evidence based on test data, make arguments from evidence to defend their conclusions, evaluate critically the ideas of others, and revise their designs in order to achieve the best solution to the problem at hand.

 


K-12 Progressions

from NGSS Appendix F: Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS

K-2 3-5 6-8 9-12
Engaging in Argument from Evidence 

Argumentation is the process by which evidence-based conclusions and solutions are reached. 

In science and engineering, reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential to identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon or the best solution to a design problem. Scientists and engineers use argumentation to listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on merits. 

Scientists and engineers engage in argumentation when investigating a phenomenon, testing a design solution, resolving questions about measurements, building data models, and using evidence to evaluate claims. 


Engaging in argument from evidence in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to comparing ideas and representations about the natural and designed world(s). 

Engaging in argument from evidence in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural and designed world(s). 

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s). 

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current scientific or historical episodes in science. 

Identify arguments that are supported by evidence. 

Distinguish between explanations that account for all gathered evidence and those that do not. 

Analyze why some evidence is relevant to a scientific question and some is not. 

Distinguish between opinions and evidence in one’s own explanations.
Compare and refine arguments based on an evaluation of the evidence presented. 

Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in an explanation.
Compare and critique two arguments on the same topic and analyze whether they emphasize similar or different evidence and/or interpretations of facts. 
Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues. 

Evaluate the claims, evidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments.
Listen actively to arguments to indicate agreement or disagreement based on evidence, and/or to retell the main points of the argument. 
Respectfully provide and receive critiques from peers about a proposed procedure, explanation or model.by citing relevant evidence and posing specific questions. 
Respectfully provide and receive critiques about one’s explanations, procedures, models and questions by citing relevant evidence and posing and responding to questions that elicit pertinent elaboration and detail. 
Respectfully provide and/or receive critiques on scientific arguments by probing reasoning and evidence and challenging ideas and conclusions, responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, and determining what additional information is required to resolve contradictions. 
Construct an argument with evidence to support a claim. 
Construct and/or support an argument with evidence, data, and/or a model. 

Use data to evaluate claims about cause and effect.
Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem. 
Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence. 
Make a claim about the effectiveness of an object, tool, or solution that is supported by relevant evidence. 
Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem by citing relevant evidence about how it meets the criteria and constraints of the problem. 
Make an oral or written argument that supports or refutes the advertised performance of a device, process, or system, based on empirical evidence concerning whether or not the technology meets relevant criteria and constraints. 

Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
Make and defend a claim based on evidence about the natural world or the effectiveness of a design solution that reflects scientific knowledge, and student-generated evidence. 

Evaluate competing design solutions to a real-world problem based on scientific ideas and principles, empirical evidence, and/or logical arguments regarding relevant factors (e.g. economic, societal, environmental, ethical considerations).


Goals for SEP7: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

from A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (pages 72-73)

By grade 12, students should be able to 

  • Construct a scientific argument showing how data support a claim. 
  • Identify possible weaknesses in scientific arguments, appropriate to the students’ level of knowledge, and discuss them using reasoning and evidence. 
  • Identify flaws in their own arguments and modify and improve them in response to criticism. 
  • Recognize that the major features of scientific arguments are claims, data, and reasons and distinguish these elements in examples. 
  • Explain the nature of the controversy in the development of a given scientific idea, describe the debate that surrounded its inception, and indicate why one particular theory succeeded. 
  • Explain how claims to knowledge are judged by the scientific community today and articulate the merits and limitations of peer review and the need for independent replication of critical investigations. 
  • Read media reports of science or technology in a critical manner so as to identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

Performance Expectations Associated with SEP7: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

K-2 3-5 6-8 9-12
K-ESS2-2
2-PS1-4
3-LS2-1
3-LS4-3
3-LS4-4
3-ESS3-1
4-LS1-1
5-PS2-1
5-LS1-1
5-ESS1-1
MS-PS2-4
MS-PS3-5
MS-LS1-3
MS-LS1-4
MS-LS2-4
MS-LS2-5
MS-ESS3-4
MS-EST1-2
HS-PS4-3
HS-LS2-6
HS-LS2-8
HS-LS3-2
HS-LS4-5
HS-ESS1-5
HS-ESS2-7
HS-ESS3-2

Additional Resources

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (pages 71-74)

Science Practices Continuum - Students' Performance
This tool is a continuum for each practice that shows how students' performance can progress over time. A teacher can use the continuum to assess students' abilities to engage in the practices and to inform future instruction. From Instructional Leadership for Science Practices.

Science Practices Continuum - Supervision
This tool is a continuum for each practice that shows how instruction can progress over time. An instructional supervisor can use the continuum to identify the current level for a practice in a science lesson. Then the supervisor can provide feedback, such as offering instructional strategies to help move future instruction farther along the continuum. From Instructional Leadership for Science Practices.

Potential Instructional Strategies for Engaging in Argument from Evidence
This instructional strategies document provide examples of strategies that teachers can use to support the science practice. Supervisors might share these strategies with teachers as they work on improving instruction of the science practices. Teachers might find these helpful for lesson planning and implementing science practices in their classrooms. From Instructional Leadership for Science Practices.

Argumentation in Science Education 
Published by NSTA in The Science Teacher magazine publication in 2013, this article discusses what argumentation looks like in the science classroom, its importance, and provides a framework when considering the components of an argument and the criteria by which it might be assessed.

Bozemanscience Video

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