Structured Controversy

Structured Controversy
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Open your Mind with the Structured Controversy activity

Structured controversy is a type of cooperative learning strategy where controversial issues are learned about and discussed from multiple perspectives by small teams. It is a technique and a way discovered and specially designed to engage people in a controversy and then guide them to seek consensus.

Divide the group into groups of four. The instructor identifies a controversial topic and gathers material that gives information and background to support different views of the controversy.

People work with one partner, forming two pairs within the group of four. Each pair takes a different side of the issue.

Pairs work to prepare to advocate and defend their position. The groups of four meet, and each pair takes a turn stating and arguing its position while the other pair listens and takes notes without interrupting.

Each pair must have a chance both to listen and take notes and to argue their position. Then all four talk together as a group to learn all sides of the issue.

Next, each pair must reverse its position and argue the opposite position from the one it argued before. Lastly the group of four as a whole discusses and synthesizes all the positions to come up with a group report.

There may be a final presentation where each group presents their findings.

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