This education research focused on the process of justification which is defined, for the purpose of the French language curriculum, as a discursive behaviour that seeks to demonstrate, to another person, the legitimacy of a statement or proposition by providing the reasons behind it.
More precisely, the research examined the process of learning to write justifications in Québec Secondary Cycle One, and asked the question “What prior knowledge or experience have students acquired, at school or elsewhere, regarding the process of justification, and how does this affect their learning to write justifications in French class?”
The research examined the process of learning to write justifications in Québec Secondary Cycle One.
This research question is all the more pertinent from a social and scientific standpoint in light of new provisions from the ministry of education regarding the teaching and learning of written justification (new program, new exam and concern on the part of teachers as to the justification skills of their students). In addition, while research has shown that young children learn to justify their views and actions early in life through informal verbal interactions within the family, the social circle and at elementary school, further research highlights the difficulties experienced by students when it comes to writing justifications that meet expected standards.
Furthermore, as it is known in language teaching that students’ prior knowledge and experience can help or hinder learning depending whether it reinforces or conflicts with the knowledge taught in the classroom, it is importance to enhance our understanding of students’ prior knowledge and to examine its interaction with academic learning.
Finally, the linguistic and cultural diversity of the participating classrooms suggest that students’ prior knowledge and experience with justification are likely to reflect this diversity.
Marie-Hélène Forget, Université de Sherbrooke
Deposit of the research report: July 2014