My presentation was about…
The purpose was to explain how I developed and taught a unit of work that focused on group debates as the central task. I also hoped to inspire teachers to think about how they might use debates as a learning and teaching tool in their own subjects.
What inspired your approach?
After being recruited to develop a subject that included skills in argumentation as the primary learning objective, I began investigating the practice of debating in high schools and universities. I was mostly inspired by Australian and international debating organisations that are passionate about the value of teaching debating skills, so that all students can become successful debaters.
What was the most surprising outcome?
Students were very harsh critics when evaluating experienced debaters on YouTube! However, they were more supportive of each other during peer to peer evaluations.
How has it/will it benefit students?
In preparing for the task, students learn how to craft an effective argument using evidence. Through this process, they develop skills in research, team work and communication. Responses from student reflections suggest that students feel a sense of achievement on completing the task, and they are aware of the contribution of the task to developing their academic and professional skills.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give other academics based on this experience?
If you are going to use debates as a learning and teaching tool, make sure you plan carefully and give students access to resources on debating rules, language and structure. Scaffold the task carefully and allow time for practice and feedback before the final performance.
Any plans for what you’ll do next?
I am thinking about how I might introduce debates into other subjects that I teach.
Take a look at the PowerPoint presentation on classroom debates to find out how you can incorporate this tool into your learning and teaching practice.
Feature image by: Freepik