#plenary #building community #collaboration

A debate is a good way to encourage class participation in large groups without losing control, and they can work in any discipline – not just the social sciences. They can emerge spontaneously from classroom material but are best used with planning.

• The first step is to describe the background context and explain why you are having a debate.
• Then decide on the two (or more) sides to the debate and physically group the class according to points of view. For example, the people sitting on the right-hand side of the room are for a concept, while the people on the left-hand side are against it.
• For large groups, you should have speakers raise their hands while you moderate. The debate will probably start slowly at first, but the intensity will pick up.
• You, as moderator, can ask provocative questions, but don’t express judgement on any point of view (at least not until afterwards!).
• After 10 to 15 minutes of debating, end the debate and reflect on what was said.
• You can use ideas and conflicts from the debate to lead into your lecture, review lecture concepts to end the class, or make a segue to your next class.

Source: Activities for Large Classes | Centre for Teaching Excellence | University of Waterloo