Counter-arguments and support arguments in student writing




Counter-arguments, support arguments, tagged Language, Coh-Metrix, Gramulator


This study analyzes the linguistic features of counter-arguments and support arguments using two computational linguistic tools: Coh-Metrix and Gramulator. The research question investigates whether counter-argument paragraphs and support paragraphs are different in terms of their linguistic features. To conduct this study, a corpus of 78 argumentative papers was collected. The paragraphs in the papers were categorized in terms of their function. The categories included functions of Support, Counter-argument, Expostulation, Counter-argument and Expostulation, Background, and Other. The paragraphs were analyzed for their readability and writing quality through Coh-Metrix. With the exception of the measure of Deep Cohesion, the Coh-Metrix results suggest minimal differences in terms of readability and writing quality between counter-argument and support paragraphs. Following the Coh-Metrix analysis, both counter-argument and support corpora were analyzed through Gramulator for their lexical features. The Gramulator results suggest the presence of causal language, fixed expressions in counterarguments, as well as some tagged language in support arguments.


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Author Biographies

Philip McCarthy, American University of Sharjah

McCarthy is an Assistant Professor and discourse scientist, specializing in software design and corpus analysis. His major interest is written text, especially the writing of students of English. McCarthy has been a teacher for 30 years, working in locations such as Turkey, Japan, Britain, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.

Noor Kaddoura, American University of Sharjah

Kaddoura is a graduate student and research assistant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the American University of Sharjah. Her research interests include L2 writing issues, argumentation, and the use of marked language.

Ayah Al-Harthy, American University of Sharjah

Al-Harthy is a student of computer science and the lead programmer of Auto-Peer. Her expertise is in Java, C++, Xojo, and Python. She also has expertise in the NetBeans and Visual Studio platforms. Her major interests are game and app development. Her plans are to specialize in NLP gaming.

Nicholas Duran, Arizona State University

Dr. Duran's research is focused on the ways in which complex cognitive processes are revealed in the dynamics of movement and language, both within individuals and across dyads and groups. Major areas of study include deception, perspective-taking, and collaborative problem-solving, as well as the connection between language and action, cognitive dynamics, and natural language processing and corpus analytics.

Khawlah Ahmed, American University of Sharjah

Professor Ahmed has a multidisciplinary academic background in English Education, English Literature, Sociology, TESOL, Computer Management Instruction, and certifications including a NY State Teaching Certification. Her research focuses on theories of teaching, educational technology, curriculum development, and communication. Ahmed has worked for government and public institutions in the US and MENA.


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How to Cite

McCarthy, P. ., Kaddoura, N., Al-Harthy, A., Thomas, A., Duran, nicholas, & Ahmed, K. (2022). Counter-arguments and support arguments in student writing. Pegem Journal of Education and Instruction, 12(1), 256–271.