Dr Susan Thorpe, Senior Lecturer
School of Psychology
What did you do?
Held a formal debate in which 2 teams of students have to research evidence for and against a given topic and construct arguments which they present at a formal public forum.
Who is involved?
Dr Sue Thorpe, Psychology MSc students
How do you do it?
Teams consist of 6-8 members. Three people present the arguments, one person is the discussant.
Order of speakers and time allowed is strictly controlled (see below)
Order of Speakers
Speaker 1: group 1: 3 mins
Speaker 1: group 2: 3 mins
Speaker 2: group 1: 2 mins
Speaker 2: group 2: 2 mins
Speaker 3: group 1: 1 min
Speaker 3: group 2: 1 min
Questions from the floor 5 mins
Discussant group 1: 2 mins
Discussant group 2:2 mins
-The discussant summarises the points presented by their team and responds to any points raised by the opposition
-The team members who are not speaking do the research as directed by the whole team
-Non speaking team members present this to the speakers to use in their arguments
-All team members decide on how to divide up the tasks
-No audio visual aids allowed – the arguments will be judged entirely on their force and persuasiveness
-Members of the teams not taking part in that particular debate give peer feedback and are in turn given feedback when it is their turn to debates
-The audience votes for most convincing argument
-Times are strictly enforced: students take it in turns to have custody of the timer and the bell. This is a much sought after position!
Why do you do it?
-Combats possible passivity and inattention by engaging students in a novel learning exercise.
-Raises confidence and cultural awareness
-Opens up learning
-Engages students in teamwork
-Aids critical thinking
-Allows students to explore difficult positions in a safe context
-Encourages in-depth study of a particular topic
Does it work?
The student feedback shown above is really positive and shows a number of the skills students develop by taking part.