The Development of Argumentive Discourse Skill
The skills involved in argument as a social discourse activity presumably develop during the childhood and adolescent years, but little is known about the course of that development. As an initial step in examining this development, a coding system was developed for the purpose of analyzing multiple dialogues between peers on the topic of capital punishment. A comparison of the dialogues of young adolescents and those of young adults showed the teens to be more preoccupied with producing the dialogue and less able to behave strategically with respect to the goals of argumentive discourse. Teens also did not exhibit the strategic skill that adults did of adapting discourse to the requirements of particular argumentive contexts (agreeing vs. disagreeing dialogues).