Last Fall, Dr. Paul Mabrey, with help from Dr. Mike Davis and Kathy Clarke, facilitated Debate Across the Curriculum workshops at JMU and Virginia Commonwealth University to assist faculty and staff with incorporating debate pedagogy and techniques into the classroom.
Karina Kline-Gabel, a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, reflected on the workshop and told us:
“The ‘Debate Across the Curriculum’ workshop has helped me to incorporate debate into the curriculum of my Spanish course, Latino Community Engagement. Since this upper level course focuses on advocacy, using debate strategies in the target language reinforces a student’s ability to communicate and support their viewpoints. Dr. Paul Moubray worked me with along the way by presenting information to my students and helping me finalize my civic engagement outcomes for the syllabus. I am excited to formally include debate in my class this semester and feel much more confident about how to prepare my students for the project.”
Catherine Copeland, an instructor in The School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication, also commented on the effectiveness of the program:
“The ‘Debate Across the Curriculum’ workshop allowed me to find a creative solution to how my students deal with argumentation. My students had struggled with finding and integrating legitimate and useful oppositional pieces; as is often the case, students were so energized by their own views on issues that they would only research and find sources that agreed with their perspective. Integrating debate into my WRTC 103 course allowed students to work in groups to more fully research their ideas and to plan how to effectively employ counterarguments when they encountered opposition. The debate format provides an energetic forum for my students and fosters peer feedback and deep discussion.”
Debate Across the Curriculum received a 4VA grant and is partnering with The Communication Center, The Madison Center, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Community Engagement to support the program. Debate Across the Curriculum is also working with Dr. Dena Pastor at JMU’s Center for Assessment and Research Studies to assess the incorporation of debate pedagogy. According to Dr. Mabrey, the hope is to grow the program and share the work through conference presentations, publications, and including more faculty and partnerships. Learn more about how you can incorporate the pedagogy of debate in your class here.