University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 3.11.2017 M.A. Kati Vapalahti (Faculty of Education and Psychology, Education)

Start date: Nov 03, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Nov 03, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: RUU D104 (Helena)

M.A. Kati Vapalahti defends her doctoral dissertation in Education ”Yhteisöllinen argumentointi sosionomikoulutuksessa avoimia ongelmia ratkottaessa”. Opponent Professor Juha Hämäläinen (University of Eastern Finland) and custos Professor Miika Marttunen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

Kati Vapalahti
M.A. Kati Vapalahti defends her doctoral dissertation in Education ”Yhteisöllinen argumentointi sosionomikoulutuksessa avoimia ongelmia ratkottaessa”. Opponent Professor Juha Hämäläinen (University of Eastern Finland) and custos Professor Miika Marttunen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


The aim of this study was to develop teaching methods for practising argumentative problem-solving in a degree program of social services. The purpose was to acquire knowledge about multiple (face-to-face, online, and integrated) learning environments for studying argumentative problem-solving. In addition, the typical features of collaborative argumentation in student discussions were identified. Two teaching experiments were arranged in courses on drug and alcohol abuse. Both experiments required students to solve open-ended problems through role-play regarding a fictive girl’s use of alcohol. The idea of blended learning was applied in the first teaching experiment. Students (n = 29) wrote individual essays and participated in small-group online discussions as well as small group and classroom drama. The study consists of three sub-studies. In Sub-study 1, the argumentation used by students in the essays they wrote during the three phases of the teaching experiment was compared with the argumentation of the students in the control group (n = 36). In the second teaching experiment, role-play was used with online as well as face-to-face teaching. In Sub-study 2, the problem solving of online, face-to-face, and control groups were compared and while in Sub-study 3 the collaborative argumentation of online and face-to-face groups were compared. Furthermore, the activity level of students’ participation was examined by counting the number of messages sent during the online discussions (Sub-study 1). Students’ opinions about the usefulness of the methods were gathered with questionnaires (Sub-study 2). The data consist of students’ essays (n = 175, Sub-study 1; n = 75, Sub-study 2), recorded face-to-face discussions (n = 3, Sub-study 3) and online discussions (n = 3, Sub-study 3), questionnaires (n = 31, Sub-study 2), and online messages (n = 215, Sub-study 1). The data were analysed with content analysis, and the results were quantified and compared with statistical tests.

The results showed that a blended learning environment both broadened and deepened students’ argumentation. The results also showed that students seldom critically evaluated their viewpoints and decisions in their essays. The role-plays supported students’ argumentative problem-solving skills. In the face-to-face situation, students considered the significant others’ perspectives in their post-tests better than in their pre-tests. Students in the online groups justified their behavioural solutions in a more sophisticated way in the post-tests than they did in the pre-tests. The communication was collaborative in nature,

especially in the face-to-face groups, whereas students’ justifications were stronger in the online groups than they were in the face-to-face groups. Students participated in the online role-plays more often than required. Students also found the role-plays to have benefitted their teamwork and communication skills. Many students felt the role-plays helped them to understand different viewpoints concerning adolescents’ use of alcohol. A pedagogical model was created by integrating the methods and exercises used and tested in the study.

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Kati Vapalahti
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