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Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetoric and Argumentation (ARRA)

Both science and democracy are based on reasoning, reasoned argumentation and reasoned rhetorical persuasion based on evidence and justifications. However most textbooks are very dogmatic collections of claims about the World. In order to show this explicitly and to promote writing of better educational texts I developed 'Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetoric and Argumentation' (ARRA) (Åhlberg 1991, 1993, 1996, 1998a - 1998c). Originally I started to develop it from ideas presented by Toulmin (1958). There is continually R&D work going on for testing and improving ARRA and to apply it new fields. ARRA is nowadays a quality tool for monitoring and promoting quality of reasoning, rhetoric and argumentation.

The basic categories of ARRA are in the Table 1.

Table 1
The basic categories of the improved argumentation analysis
(Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetoric and Argumentation, or shortly ARRA).
Code Description of the code
C Claim about the world.
G Ground for any claim.
W Warrants - concrete, observable evidence or justifications for any other category or part of reasoning, e.g. texts, figures etc.
B Backings - abstract justifications for any other category or part of reasoning, values, theories
Q Qualifications concerning frequency or probability of claims or a part of reasoning, e.g. ‘always’, ‘often’, ‘perhaps’ etc.
R Rebuttals are constrictions of claims or a part of reasoning, type of ‘ Yes, unless …’.


Real or proper question for which an answer is expected.
rq Rhetorical question for which no answer is expected.
e Emotional expression.

For demonstartion purposes I have written an text to be analysed. It is based on a real journal article. The text is in the quotation marks and the codes of ARRA are in brackets:

 "Has the quality of global environment continually got worse or has it improved during the last decades? [pq1] According to Bjorn Lomborg (2001) [W1] it has improved [C1]. According to an article in the journal Ecologist , written by Mark Lynas (2003) [W2] the quality of global environment has become worse [C2]. The title of his article is ‘Natural Bjorn killer’[C3, e1]. The writer is attacking strongly Bjorn Lomborg personally[C4], he e.g. splashed a cream cake to Lomborg’s face[e2], a photograph is shown how Lomborg looked after the incidence[C5]. The differences of their claims (opinions) are questions that only later empirical research can answer[C6]. It is evident that modern knowledge societies are in many ways unsustainable[C7] (Lomborg 2001, Lynas 2003)[W1, W2]. If we want sustainable societies[B1], better environment[B2] and higher quality of life[B3][G1], then we ought to always [Q1] in every possible ways to promote learning, thinking and acting for sustainable development [C8]. Unless we think that the things are not so bad after all [R1]. Why bother?[rq1] Or unless we think that there is no hope of survival of humankind any more[R2]. Why bother?[rq1] A critical scientific realist admits that there are plenty to do for continual improvement of all human processes to promote sustainable development, including education for sustainable development [C9]. "

The structure of argumentation is as follows in the Figure 1:

Figure 1. The argumentation structure of the text presented in Table 2.



Åhlberg, M. 1991. Concept mapping, concept matrices, link tables and argumentation analysis as techniques for educational research on textbooks and educational discourse and as tools for teachers and their pupils in their everyday work. In Julkunen, M.-L., Selander, S. & Åhlberg, M. 1991. Research on texts at school. University of Joensuu. Research Reports of the Faculty of Education N:o 37, 89 - 154.

Åhlberg, M, 1993. Concept maps, Vee diagrams and Rhetorical Argumentation (RA) Analysis: Three educational theory-based tools to facilitate meaningful learning. Paper presented at The Third International Seminar on Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics. August 1- 5, 1993. Cornell University. Published digitally in the Proceedings of the Seminar, http://www.mlrg.org/proc3abstracts.html (Read 26 2. 2003.)

Åhlberg, M. 1996. Tutkiva opettaja oman teoriansa kehittäjänä ja testaajana. [Inquiring teachers as developers and testers of their own theories]. In Ojanen, S. (toim.) Tutkiva opettaja 2. Helsingin yliopiston Lahden tutkimus- ja täydennyskoulutuskeskus, 71-86.

Åhlberg, M. 1998a. Kestävän kehityksen pedagogiikka ja yleisdidaktiikka. University of Joensuu. Bulletins of the Faculty of Education. N:o 71.

Åhlberg, M. 1998b. Ecopedagogy and ecodidactics: Education for Sustainable Development, Good Environment and Good Life. University of Joensuu. Bulletins of the Faculty of Education. N:o 69.

Åhlberg, M. 1998c. Education for sustainability, good environment and good life. In Åhlberg, M. & Leal Filho, W. (Eds.) 1998. Environmental education for sustainability: good environment, good life. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 25 - 43.

Lomborg, B. 2001. The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lynas, M. 2003. Natural Bjorn killer. Ecologist 33(2), 26 -29.

Toulmin, S. 1958. Uses of argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

I have presented two other improved metacognitive tools:
Improved Concept Mapping, Improved Vee Heuristics and ARRA or Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetorics and Argumentation, rhetoric and argumentation, better quality of learning, thinking, and acting.


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