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NGSS Dimension 1: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

DeeDee Whitaker
Product Content Specialist

April 2017

Students often accept scientific theories at face value, giving little thought to the evidence used to formulate the theory. History shows that many widely accepted theories were considered nonsense before an abundance of evidence was compiled.

Plate tectonics is an example. Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of continental drift in the late 1800s based on geologic and fossil records but could not explain how the continents moved. His theory was dismissed for lack of evidence. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Harry Hess discovered sea-floor spreading and proposed that convection currents in the mantle are a mechanism for movement, reviving and revising Wegener’s original theory.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence (High School 9–12)

The Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS) delineates 6 specific skills students should master to adeptly and thoroughly engage in argumentation from evidence:

  • 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.
  • 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, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counterarguments based on data and evidence.
  • 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 logical arguments regarding relevant factors (e.g., economic, societal, environmental, ethical considerations).

Our graphic organizers Making a Scientific Claim and Evaluating a Scientific Claim can help students categorize and organize evidence, data, and information to facilitate constructing a scientific argument from evidence.     

Carolina Kits | 3D - Explore Kit Solutions for 3-Dimensional Learning. - Explore

*Next Generation Science Standards® (NGSS) is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of, and do not endorse, these products.