It can be difficult writing essays, reports and dissertations at any stage of your life. Dr Dani Hilliard, University of Exeter has conducted research into the problem that A level students have writing History essays. As a result of her research she has devised a seven-stage process, which involves collaborative, interactive activities and individual reflection, designed to help students improve both their verbal and written arguments – the Argue to Think process.

Fundamental to the Argue to Think process is that the students are encouraged to engage with the learning following the principles of dialogic education and informal persuasive argumentation. This means that there are: clear ground rules that promote equality; the dialogue engendered is exploratory and not disputational; the students argue about the ideas not against each other; that their learning is also reflective and characterised by an openness and willingness to change. In this way it is hoped that the students not only consolidate their learning on a topic but that the learning itself leads to cognitive development. Moreover they improve their decision-making skills as well as gain in self-confidence.

Although The Argue to Think process was designed to help students improve their writing and communication skills it is clear that the process can be transferred to other areas of human endeavour other than education.  The seven- stage process could be adapted easily within organisational decision-making protocols, to promote discussions that would be grounded in equality to allow for a more open and exploratory form of discussion – thus achieving a thorough investigation of all of the issues involved before decisions are taken. Establishing reflective practice as well as a willingness to listen to others allows for a more authentic engagement of ideas.

Dani is now being funded to take part in an intensive customer discovery activity. She needs to have 100 meaningful conversations with anyone who might be interested in trying out the Argue to Think process within their organisations. It must be stressed however this is NOT a selling activity – it is purely market research!

If you are interested please contact Dani on