1887

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

    Author: Joyce A. Shaw1
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    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: [email protected].
    • 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 Science 2011 Vision 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 Science July 15–17, 2009 Washington, D.C.
2. Armstrong MK, Weber K 1991 Genetic engineering: a lesson on bioethics for the classroom Am Biol. Teacher 53 294 297 10.2307/4449297 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4449297
3. Carroll MS, Alt FJ, Brandenburg AM, Schlosser WE, Daniels SE 1993 Tournament-style debate as a natural resources education technique J Nat Resour Life Sci Educ 22 158 162
4. Cronin M 1990 Debating to learn across the curriculum: implementation and assessment Paper presented at the Southern States Communication Association Convention April 1990 Birmingham, AL
5. Garrett M, Schoener L, Hood L 1996 Debate: a teaching strategy to improve verbal communication and critical-thinking skills Nurse Educ 21 37 40 10.1097/00006223-199607000-00015 8718159 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00006223-199607000-00015
6. Joung S, Keller JM 2004 The effects of high-structure cooperative versus low-structure collaborative design of decision change, critical thinking, and interaction pattern during online debates Presentation at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology October 19–23, 2004 Chicago, IL
7. Moeller TG 1985 Using classroom debates in teaching developmental psychology Teach Psychol 12 207 209 10.1207/s15328023top1204_5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top1204_5
8. Neimeyer RA, Ray L, Hardison H, Raina K, Kelley R, Krantz J 2003 Fixed role in a fishbowl: consultation-based fixed role therapy as a pedagogical technique J Constr Psychol 16 249 271 10.1080/10720530390209270 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720530390209270
9. Pernecky M 1997 Debate for the economics class — and others College Teaching 45 136 138 10.1080/87567559709596215 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87567559709596215
10. Priles MA 1993 The fishbowl discussion: a strategy for large honors classes English J 82 49 50 10.2307/820165 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/820165
11. Simonneaux L 2002 Analysis of classroom debating strategies in the field of biotechnology J Biol Educ 37 9 12 10.1080/00219266.2002.9655839 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00219266.2002.9655839
12. Smith DH, Malec AM 1996 Developing a more interactive classroom: A continuing odyssey Teach Sociol 24 64 75 10.2307/1318899 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1318899
13. Snider A, Schnurer M 2006 Many sides: debate across the curriculum International Debate Education Association New York, NY
14. Tumposky NR 2004 The debate debate The Clearing House 78 52 56 10.3200/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
2019-10-20

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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