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Debate in the Classroom

What is debate?

Debate is defined as  “a formal discussion where two opposing sides follow a set of pre-agreed rules to engage in an oral exchange of different points of view on an issue” (Akerman and Neale 2011).  Incorporation of debate into the classroom has been shown to (1) improve academic attainment, (2) develop critical thinking, (3) better communication and argumentation skills, and (4) boost aspirations, confidence and cultural awareness (Akerman and Neale 2011).

How do I get started?

The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) is one of several groups promoting the use of debate in the classroom.  IDEA hosts a website full of resources for those who wish to use debate as a tool in their classroom (http://idebate.org/).  For example, the IDEA website includes a database of possible debate topics and lists the top 100 Debates from their website (ranked by total views) (http://idebate.org/view/top_100_debates). Each topic includes a prompt describing the topic, a list of points for and against, and a bibliography of resources (For example see “This house would ban animal testing”).


Are you interested in learning more about the role of debate in the classroom?  Consider attending the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning workshop “Debating in the Classroom” on Thursday, February 7, 2013.  Visit our website for more information and registration.


Akerman, R. and I. Neale (2011). Debating the evidence: an international review of current situation and perceptions. Research report, CfBT Education Trust. ISBN 978-1-907496-55-4

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