Debates

Debate is one of the pedagogical techniques that can be used to motivate and encourage adult learners in studying controversial topics which do not have specific answers. For example, neoclassical economists claim that free market economy is the best approach for improving social welfare of the people in a certain country. However, there are multiple responses to this claim. Under such situations, debate may be one of the best learning strategies to understand the context of the problem and potential solutions. The challenge for instructors is to determine the best strategy for facilitating discussion that lead to create mutual understanding of the relevant topic. Mutual understanding can be reached when students are ready to accept different view points or even ready to adjust their views. Currently debate is used most colleges and universities for learners who participate in debating teams.

Debates have a long tradition and it evolves over 4000 years. Egyptian used debates in public forum to discuss about multiple view points and formulating judgements.  Debates have some advantages such as researching an issue, considering different views, sharing and analyzing multiple perspectives, and formulating counter arguments to the opposition. Considering these advantages, I would argue that debate leads to active engagement in learning. It also assists to learn critical thinking and critical perspectives about the relevant topic. Instructors can use debates to deal with academic controversy. When learner fulfills activities assigned to debate, he/she occupied advanced knowledge that is beyond the basic levels. In short, the learner gains knowledge related to higher domain of Bloom’s taxonomy that requires critical thinking and analysis. Eventually, debate may lead to create meta-cognitive skills through developing critical thinking skills.

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