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April Heaney LeaRN edu APPROACHING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN CLASS DISCUSSION.

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Presentation on theme: "April Heaney LeaRN edu APPROACHING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN CLASS DISCUSSION."— Presentation transcript:

1 April Heaney LeaRN edu APPROACHING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN CLASS DISCUSSION

2  Share a time you have experienced heated discussion (as an instructor or participant in class discussion)  How did you (or the instructor) approach the discussion?  How might the discussion have been handled more effectively? GROUP QUESTIONS

3  PREPARE students for discussion early on  SLOW DOWN opinions offered by reviewing and structuring students’ claims in a visible way  COMPLICATE binaries and generalities offered in discussion  ENCOURAGE EMPATHY in students’ thinking about opposing views  FOSTER REFLECTION through guided questions  FOLLOW UP with select students to show appreciation and offer further discussion with you SIX ELEMENTS FOR APPROACHING SENSITIVE ISSUES IN DISCUSSION

4  Create ground rules collaboratively.  Consider characteristics of strong discussion from students’ past courses  Ask students to make a list of what students can and should do to foster strong discussion, as well as the teacher’s role  Pose guiding questions  Type the rules and review with students in 1-2 weeks PREPARING STUDENTS FOR DISCUSSION

5  Characteristics of democratic discussion (Edward Lindeman, 1947):  Embrace diversity  Actively listen to all views  Recognize hidden assumptions  Value humor  Work as productively as possible with contrary decisions and outcomes PREPARING STUDENTS FOR DISCUSSION

6  Resist a mindset of “right” or “wrong” answers  Value silence: allow students to think and respond  Prepare students for sensitive or emotionally-laden topics  Consider with students the value of multiple (and even opposing) viewpoints  Create ground rules specifically for discussing controversial topics PREPARING STUDENTS FOR DISCUSSION

7  Characteristics of Effective Discussion  Everyone has done the reading  Remember there is no right or wrong answer  People feeling comfortable expressing opposing views—some debate  No sleeping  Open mind—accept the beliefs of others…this includes the teacher  A lot of people get involved  One or two people don’t do all the talking  Teacher moderates the discussion somewhat  People volunteering opinions rather than always being called on  Getting original points of view CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE DISCUSSION (BY ENGL 2020 STUDENTS)

8  Evaluating Discussion  Showing respect for other’s opinions is important  Asking questions is as important as expressing a viewpoint  Every person should have to participate in discussion—a valid effort  Quality, not just quantity, should be considered  Active listening or other ways of showing participation should also count  Alertness should be considered  Also use small groups as discussion  Attendance should be considered  Give support to back up viewpoints  Effort should be a factor  Students should show knowledge of the material EVALUATING EFFECTIVE DISCUSSION (BY ENGL 2020 STUDENTS)

9  Pause discussion once several views have been shared  Articulate and clarify the different viewpoints  Solicit other viewpoints  Ask students to list reasons why people who embrace each perspective feel and think the way they do SLOWING DOWN

10 1.Show multiple perspectives before a discussion begins 2.Identify false binaries and bring out the gray 3.Consider where the differing viewpoints agree COMPLICATING TOPICS

11  Affirmative action has promoted diverse student bodies and work forces, and has provided equal opportunity for at least some minorities. It has promoted diversity especially in higher education. John Filter, Kansas State professor of political science  Affirmative action can hurt office work environments because a person who comes into an administrative position can get an inferiority complex. They believe the rest of the office will think they got there with help. This leads to unusual behavior. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas  We should bring in additional economic criteria. There are poor whites and poor minorities, and both are denied opportunities. Affirmative action may have to protect economic classes as poverty grows. Krishna Tummala PERSPECTIVES ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

12  Encourage students to consider the value of truly understanding alternate viewpoints  Ask students to play devil’s advocate (or adopt a view they don’t necessarily hold) in discussion of pre-planned topics  Assign students to play various roles within a discussion  Soliciting student voices when only a few people are participating  Encouraging consideration of alternate perspectives  Monitoring the “balance” of viewpoints and determining which views dominate  Listening for disrespectful or judgmental comments that may insult some students ENCOURAGE EMPATHY

13  Ask students to write in response to guided questions after hearing multiple perspectives on an issue:  What are the merits of each perspective?  What questions do you have about one or more of these perspectives?  What gaps do you see within these claims?  Whose perspective is missing from these ideas?  Ask students to reflect on the discussion itself:  What did you learn or recognize in this discussion that you hadn’t thought about before?  What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the discussion?  What questions do you still have about this issue that weren’t answered in the discussion? FOSTER REFLECTION

14  Show appreciation for students’ contributions and offer to talk more in person about the issue under discussion  or connect with students who  Share personal or sensitive narratives within the discussion  Contribute to adding key perspectives to the mix  Advocate for a position that is being underserved in the discussion  Show an emotional reaction to the discussion FOLLOW UP WITH STUDENTS


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