Socially-augmented argumentation tools: rationale, design and evaluation of a debate dashboard

Publisher:
Elsevier
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 2014, 72 (3), pp. 298 - 319
Issue Date:
2014-03
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Collaborative Computer-Supported Argument Visualization (CCSAV) is a technical methodology that offers support for online collective deliberation over complex dilemmas. As compared with more traditional conversational technologies, like wikis and forums, CCSAV is designed to promote more critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning, by using representations that highlight conceptual relationships between contributions, and through computational analytics that assess the structural integrity of the network. However, to date, CCSAV tools have achieved adoption primarily in small-scale educational contexts, and only to a limited degree in real world applications. We hypothesise that by reifying conversations as logical maps to address the shortcomings of chronological streams, CCSAV tools underestimate the importance of participation and interaction in enhancing collaborative knowledge-building. We argue, therefore, that CCSAV platforms should be socially augmented in order to improve their mediation capability. Drawing on Clark and Brennan influential Common Ground theory, we designed a Debate Dashboard, which augmented a CCSAV tool with a set of widgets that deliver meta-information about participants and the interaction process. An empirical study simulating a moderately sized collective deliberation scenario provides evidence that this experimental version outperformed the control version on a range of indicators, including usability, mutual understanding, quality of perceived collaboration, and accuracy of individual decisions. No evidence was found that the addition of the Debate Dashboard impeded the quality of the argumentation or the richness of content.
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