Opinion Line-up

#plenary #discussion

Why:
Getting students to discern their position on an issue in relation to their peers, encourages them to think about and clarify their reasons for holding that position.
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How:

  • The instructor introduces an issue or scenario such as the following: while buying groceries, a dermatologist notices that an elderly man standing next to her seems to have a cancerous mole on the back of his neck; should she inform him of this concern?
  • The instructor then asks the students to line up according to where they stand on the issue: one end of the classroom represents “Yes, she should absolutely tell him,” the opposite end represents “No, she absolutely should not tell him,” and the space in between represents positions such as “I’m not sure,” “It depends,” “Probably yes”, “Probably no,” and so on.
  • Once the students have finished lining up, the instructor asks them to discuss their opinion with those around them. Or, alternatively, the instructor asks each student to pair up with a student who is “far away” to discuss their diverging opinions with each other.
  • For more complex issues, all four corners of a room can be used to represent varying opinions.