Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brenner, Devon

Committee Member

Alley, Kathleen

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Committee Member

Anthony, Kenneth

Committee Member

Miller, Nicole

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


In this dissertation, the researcher examined teachers' understandings and attitudes about the teaching of argument and how professional development (PD) affected those understandings and attitudes. The teaching of argument is important because argument promotes critical thinking skills, authentic learning opportunities, increased conceptual development, and meaningful discussions about topics that are important to students. The researcher gathered data about 14 teachers’ understandings and attitudes and looked at them as a qualitative case study bounded by their common experience in a PD opportunity during the summer with return visits to PD in the fall and the following spring. The findings include: (1) teachers had little to no previous experience with argument in their own learning or teaching, (2) the teaching of a new strategy, like argument, requires ongoing, systematic PD, and (3) after PD the teachers developed more complex, nuanced understanding of and value for the teaching of argument. These findings were significant in that preservice teacher programs, district PD opportunities, and teacher-led PD learning communities must strategically and intentionally address argument for its power in the 21st century classroom.



risk-taking in teaching||expectancy-value model||motivation||metacognition||conceptual learning||apprenticeship of observation