1887

Using Small Group Debates to Actively Engage Students in an Introductory Microbiology Course

    Author: Joyce A. Shaw1
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Endicott College, Beverly, MA 01915
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 03 December 2012
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Endicott College, 376 Hale Street, Beverly, MA 01915. Phone: 978-232-2310. Fax: 978-232-3100. E-mail: jshaw@endicott.edu.
    • Copyright © 2012 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 155-160. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.420
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    Abstract:

    Debates stimulate critical thinking and can be a highly effective way to actively engage students in the classroom. This paper describes a small group debate format in which groups of four to six students debated preassigned topics in microbiology in front of the rest of the class. Rapid advancements in science, especially in microbiology, provide the scaffolding for students to locate and share evidence-based information from a plethora of complex and often conflicting sources. Student-generated debate presentations can be a welcome respite from the lecture format. Debates were scheduled throughout the course to coincide with topics being covered. Questionnaires distributed immediately after each debate revealed that the debates were well received by students and were effective in changing student attitudes and misconceptions. Debate preparation provided students the opportunity to gain proficiency in accessing information from electronic databases, to use resources from professional organizations, and to synthesize and analyze information. In addition, the debate process gave students experience in developing oral communication skills.

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References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington, D.C.
2. Armstrong MK, Weber K1991Genetic engineering: a lesson on bioethics for the classroomAm Biol. Teacher5329429710.2307/4449297 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4449297
3. Carroll MS, Alt FJ, Brandenburg AM, Schlosser WE, Daniels SE1993Tournament-style debate as a natural resources education techniqueJ Nat Resour Life Sci Educ22158162
4. Cronin M1990Debating to learn across the curriculum: implementation and assessmentPaper presented at the Southern States Communication Association ConventionApril 1990Birmingham, AL
5. Garrett M, Schoener L, Hood L1996Debate: a teaching strategy to improve verbal communication and critical-thinking skillsNurse Educ21374010.1097/00006223-199607000-000158718159 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00006223-199607000-00015
6. Joung S, Keller JM2004The effects of high-structure cooperative versus low-structure collaborative design of decision change, critical thinking, and interaction pattern during online debatesPresentation at the Association for Educational Communications and TechnologyOctober 19–23, 2004Chicago, IL
7. Moeller TG1985Using classroom debates in teaching developmental psychologyTeach Psychol1220720910.1207/s15328023top1204_5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top1204_5
8. Neimeyer RA, Ray L, Hardison H, Raina K, Kelley R, Krantz J2003Fixed role in a fishbowl: consultation-based fixed role therapy as a pedagogical techniqueJ Constr Psychol1624927110.1080/10720530390209270 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720530390209270
9. Pernecky M1997Debate for the economics class — and othersCollege Teaching4513613810.1080/87567559709596215 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87567559709596215
10. Priles MA1993The fishbowl discussion: a strategy for large honors classesEnglish J82495010.2307/820165 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/820165
11. Simonneaux L2002Analysis of classroom debating strategies in the field of biotechnologyJ Biol Educ3791210.1080/00219266.2002.9655839 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00219266.2002.9655839
12. Smith DH, Malec AM1996Developing a more interactive classroom: A continuing odysseyTeach Sociol24647510.2307/1318899 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1318899
13. Snider A, Schnurer M2006Many sides: debate across the curriculumInternational Debate Education AssociationNew York, NY
14. Tumposky NR2004The debate debateThe Clearing House78525610.3200/TCHS.78.2.52-56 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/TCHS.78.2.52-56
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.420
2012-12-03
2017-11-18

Abstract:

Debates stimulate critical thinking and can be a highly effective way to actively engage students in the classroom. This paper describes a small group debate format in which groups of four to six students debated preassigned topics in microbiology in front of the rest of the class. Rapid advancements in science, especially in microbiology, provide the scaffolding for students to locate and share evidence-based information from a plethora of complex and often conflicting sources. Student-generated debate presentations can be a welcome respite from the lecture format. Debates were scheduled throughout the course to coincide with topics being covered. Questionnaires distributed immediately after each debate revealed that the debates were well received by students and were effective in changing student attitudes and misconceptions. Debate preparation provided students the opportunity to gain proficiency in accessing information from electronic databases, to use resources from professional organizations, and to synthesize and analyze information. In addition, the debate process gave students experience in developing oral communication skills.

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