APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA:
MY PEDAGOGY AND ITS APPLICATIONS
(Prepared for Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1994)
MY PERSONAL BACKGROUND
Many of my ideas and practices as a faculty member date from experiences in both my undergraduate and graduate institutions, so a word about that personal history seems in order at the outset.
My undergraduate work involved three schools and five majors over five years. I emerged from high school uncertain of what I wanted to be and study, chiefly because so much seemed interesting. I spent six months in the Army (followed by 7 years in the Reserves) to get my military service out of the way; I thus entered college mid-year.
My first school was a tiny liberal arts institution called Park College, in the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri. I found myself drawn to pre-medicine, psychology, and political science as I took science and other courses in the curriculum. However, with a population of 350 and a shaky budget, the school seemed too small and too fraught with uncertainty, and I transferred after three semesters to another private liberal arts institution, Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
There I experienced a wider range of courses, and found myself attracted to pre-law and accounting for a while (pursuing the latter in summer studies at Oklahoma City University), but ultimately to philosophy. For, in all the subjects to which I was attracted, invariably I would start asking questions that my instructors would dismiss as "philosophical"; "How can a person have a dis-ease if she doesn't feel differently?" "If a child lacks free will in infancy, and every action is causally determined by either internal or external factors, how is free will ever developed?" "What is it that we are speaking of when we say the words, 'liberty and justice for all'?" "How can we hold people responsible for their crimes if determinism is true?" "When an accountant speaks of value, what is that thing?" After having so many interesting questions brushed aside, I found a home for my interests in philosophy.
Of major importance in my undergraduate experience at both Park College and Austin College was close contact with faculty in their homes, where I found I learned much about their subject matters but also a great deal about myself and about life that would otherwise perhaps not have been forthcoming from my school experiences. Faculty regarded students with a kind of parental attitude, and were available to them not only for consultation regarding class-work and insights into the life of a teacher and researcher, but also for discussion of the difficult questions of romantic relationships, guidance for extra-curricular activities, and as exemplars of parenting with their own children. While at the level of academic preparation for the field of graduate study much was wanting at these schools, the example of a way of relating to students conveyed by those faculty was of major formative importance.
The transition to graduate study at Indiana University was difficult, for two sorts of reasons. First, my undergraduate experience poorly prepared me for graduate study. None of my faculty had much knowledge of what would be expected of a graduate student, and did not prepare me well. For example, I never read a primary philosophical text or a journal article despite taking a dozen courses as a philosophy major. What writing there was, was to demonstrate facts about myself to my teachers, and received little significant critical evaluation with an eye to improvement: I never was asked to revise any of my work.
Second, there were structural reasons concerning the PhD program at Indiana that frustrated my preparation to write the dissertation. I came into the graduate program with the topic already in hand on which I would eventually write. But, there was no opportunity to pursue that topic in courses and directed readings, because of the looming necessity to prepare for the PhD comprehensive exams.
My own experience as a graduate student was in a program characterized by a number of implicitly contradictory assumptions. (1) Graduate assistants were considered competent enough to teach two undergraduate classes each semester starting in their first semester, without further preparation than a prescribed syllabus. (2) Graduate students spent 5-6 semesters preparing for comprehensive examinations in Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology, History of Ancient Philosophy, History of Medieval Philosophy, History of Modern Philosophy, and Logic, working from a reading list and 200 sample questions. (3) Seminar papers were intended as rehearsals for comprehensive questions. (4) Any original insights in seminar papers were commonly treated as the property of the professors in whose courses they had occurred, and were frequently appropriated into faculty publications without credit to the student. (5) Typically, students had to repeat comprehensive exams in whole or part because of failure in at least one of them. As a result of both the importance of the examinations and the fact that people frequently spent extra semesters passing them, (6) the development of a dissertation area specialization and topic usually awaited passage of the comprehensive examinations, with the result that it was not uncommon to be in the dissertation stage for several years. In my own case and that of several of my colleagues hired the same year, although obtaining positions despite our ABD status, we remained at the Lecturer level for several years before completing our PhD degrees and starting "real" professional activity.
A quiet revolution occurred in the Buffalo philosophy department as a result of the common experiences of a number of junior faculty members, with the support of more progressive senior colleagues. Comprehensives were scrapped, and replaced by a set of breadth requirements and a structure that had the student working to develop a dissertation area starting in the second year. Recognizing the diverse character of our department, individualized requirements were set for students by advisory committees made up of faculty chosen by students; thus, a student could customize the curriculum requirements to reflect a particular personal set of interests. Under its revised structure, in our program students usually finish their dissertations in 4-5 years instead of the 7-8 typical in my generation.
There remained, however, a further need for professionalization of attitudes. Despite the implicit encouragement of the new structure for doctoral studies to students to mature in their areas of interest, student still typically wrote papers to demonstrate their own mastery of some subject to a faculty member. With a few notable exceptions, faculty seemed not to raise the possibility to students of engaging in professional activities like publishing or presenting work at colloquia and conferences; even where faculty encouraged students to publish, it was usually only after the dissertation was completed and often jointly with the faculty member as a co-author. Again, a change in approach gradually seemed to be wanting.
HOW I ENCOURAGE GRADUATE STUDENT PROFESSIONALISM
After being involved for a number of years in placement of our graduates in professional teaching positions, I came to see that competition for the better jobs was increasingly tough, and that it was necessary to encourage students to engage in professional activities at a much earlier stage that had been typical for my generation. It was necessary, in short, for them to make what I call "the professional turn." I hit upon a series of methods for encouraging this change of attitude, and incorporated them in my graduate seminars.
At the beginning of my seminars (which frequently are given in the fall term), I give graduate students a "pep talk" to the effect that they should start thinking of themselves as professionals, engaged in research and writing for professional publication and oral presentation.
I talk about the various forums open to philosophers for sharing their work with other philosophers: departmental colloquia, state philosophy associations, such as Tri-State and the Creighton Club, regional associations, such as the Southern Association of Philosophy and Psychology, national meetings of the American Philosophical Association, the Canadian Philosophical Association, meetings of special interest societies that may or may not be concurrent with APA and CPA meetings, such as the Catholic Philosophical Association, American Society for Value Inquiry, Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, and international meetings. I identify the Directory of American Philosophers and the International Directory of Philosophy as sources for information about what societies there are, and to the APA Bulletin and the schedule published by the Council for Philosophical Studies for deadlines.
I point out that the typical attitude towards written work for courses includes most if not all of the following presumptions:
- A paper is written in order to complete requirements for a course.
- A paper is written for one reader--the course instructor.
- A paper aims at demonstration to the instructor of some commendable fact about the student--usually, that he or she has read something or understood something.
- As a result, most undergraduate papers are never picked up after grading, and most graduate papers are never revised after instructors have written comments--in both cases because there is no point in doing so since the purposes of the paper have been satisfied.
I then indicate that converse presumptions are true for professional philosophers' written work:
- A paper is written in order to communicate to other professionals information that will enhance their understanding.
- A paper is written for many readers/hearers in contexts that usually do not contain the classroom.
- A paper aims at demonstrating something about its subject matter.
- Most professionals' papers are rewritten several times as a result of receiving comments from members of one's audience, friends, referees and editors, and the purposes of the paper have not been satisfied until it has received public airing.
I then ask students when it is legitimate for them to write papers professionally rather than `studently.' Some will actually say that one doesn't earn the right to do so until the PhD is in hand. Whether they do so or not, I raise the possibility rhetorically. I then ask what there is about the conferral of the PhD that constitutes the relevant entitlement. We talk rather extensively about the issue of professionalism and whether philosophy is a profession that can and should exercise control over "admission to practice the discipline"--a view that I have found to be fairly common among my peers. On this view, something like admission to practice comes with the conferral of the PhD; a student publishing before conferral is thus analogous to a medical student performing surgery before completing training and acquiring a license.
I then point out that this view, whatever its merits, is not generally adhered to in the profession, and that a number of individuals who come onto the job market do so with one or more publications, or at least presentations at professional meetings, on their resumes and thereby gain a competitive advantage over those who as yet have no such activities for certain positions.
The upshot is that I encourage them to take the set of professional rather than student attitudes to heart while students; I suggest that they regard their courses as sources of ideas and stimuli for writing publishable or presentable papers; and I refer them to a number of works on writing philosophically as resources for their efforts.
Finally, I encourage students to read their papers to one another, often after the end of the semester, as a way to break the habitual regard of term papers as for courses consumption by the professor only. This makes sense in that many students do not feel prepared to write a paper until well along in the semester, precluding, in large courses, adequate time for presentation of such work formally.
The Philosophy Department has generally come to view these suggestions as worthy of reflection in its requirements. Thus, we now have a writing requirement in the first year that introduces students to the process of revising in light of critical comments, and a third year requirement of presenting a paper at a departmental colloquium or professional meeting.
PERSONAL CONTACT WITH STUDENTS
It is difficult in a large university with sizeable classes of undergraduate students (with most of whom one has contact only in a single course), to develop close personal relationships. The Undergraduate College's Freshman Seminars and Honor Seminars provided the chance to have such contacts, but they are not cost-effective and still usually involve contact only in a single semester. Many of the students I teach in the various ethics, critical thinking and logic courses of the undergraduate curriculum take such courses as requirements for other majors, and so the problem of ongoing contact is inherent.
With graduate students, of course, the problem of personal contact is less severe. Students who have a primary interest congruent with some of my own naturally take seminars and directed study with me repeatedly, and those with whose dissertations I am involved either as Director or committee member usually have intense contact spread over a number of semesters.
It has been my practice to remain open and accessible to undergraduate as well as graduate students, spending numerous hours each week in my office with an open door, and frequently having formal class meetings and class parties at our home. I also try to spot personal difficulties in schoolwork, and am aggressive in inquiring after the reasons underlying poor or tardy performance. Often this involves getting a student referred for medical or psychological counseling; occasionally, a learning disorder has gone undiagnosed; often family or relationship problems are responsible.
I attempt to be sensitive to these factors and to regard them as problems to be solved with a student instead of problems that are solely the student's business. On one occasion, I moved in with a graduate student during the summer for several days to help him focus on completing his dissertation; in other cases, graduate students have lived with us for a period of time to help them overcome particularly difficult problems of self-confidence. Usually the needed contact is relatively minimal, and the proportionate rewards of such contact can be great.
In addition to adapting the personable style of my undergraduate mentors to the university setting, I have generated some classroom innovations to address the educational needs of undergraduate students.
With the exception of deductive logic courses, I always require one or more term papers to be written for my undergraduate classes. I have adopted the usual format of requiring a paper to be proposed with a paragraph identifying the topic, the (tentative) thesis, the line of argument, and obvious objections, as well as a working bibliography. This is approved, with comments. Next, students must write a complete draft, due usually at the end of the second month of the semester. This is carefully read, with extensive comments addressing everything from mechanical and structural problems to difficulties in the argumentation. The final draft is due 1-2 weeks before the end of the semester, with the proposal, the rough draft, and all notes, photocopies, etc as authentications of authorship. This draft is graded and returned on the last day of classes.
I have stuck with this pattern, despite the increase in size of my bioethics class, for two reasons. First, I find that many undergraduates tell me they otherwise make it through the university without having to write many serious papers. Second, they tell me that typically they never revise their work and get little feed-back but a grade. I believe that both of these represent deficiencies in the way we educate students; while faculty reluctance to assign written work is understandable given the often poor preparation for writing that students have had prior to entry into the university, writing still seems to me the best way to develop coherent, careful thought, and I believe that such development is central to the university's mission. So, I bite the bullet, make serious writing assignments, demand graduate student assistance for grading when I can get it, and employ the three-step process of evaluation anyway.
Because I believe excellence in writing ought to be encouraged and rewarded, a number of years ago I suggested to one undergraduate that she enter a paper written for one of my classes in the Phi Beta Kappa Shinners essay contest. She won, and her parents were so impressed that they decided to fund an annual contest specifically for philosophy students. That prize has been awarded for essays in most of the past 18 years, and it seems to have been positively correlated with winners' further intellectual attainments at the graduate or professional level. Three have taken PhDs in Philosophy an two others are currently working towards that degree; three have taken JDs; two BSNs; one the MD; two have PhDs in English. (One is a member of a motorcycle gang but he won with a drawing, not an essay).
Two additional educational problems have occupied my attention. Many undergraduates approach their studies passively, struggling against the old patterns of "professors notes becoming transferred to students' notebooks without passing through the minds of either," as the cynic might say. And, many undergraduates have little experience in thinking and speaking before a group. I have developed the method of holding in-class debates as a way of dealing with these problems.
Previous experiences with honors seminars in reproductive ethics and with lecture courses in bioethics had left me with some resolutions of what I would and would not do again. I would increase quality discussion; I would not be the dominant presence at the front of the class. I would attempt to structure circumstances so that students would learn actively through doing; I would not treat the learning process as though it were a matter of passive absorption. I would seek to stimulate student "ownership" of course material as a mark of mastery; I would not be content to test for recognition and recall. The challenge, then, was to come up with alternative or adjunct activities for students to employ that would help achieve some of these goals. With the assistance of a graduate student, Teresa McGarrity, I hit upon the debate format.
I conducted a freshman seminar in Reproductive Ethics during the spring semester of 1990. In it I first employed in-class debates conducted by teams of students. In the subsequent semesters, I have continued debates in two other courses, varying the format to accommodate different class sizes and other perceived needs. I here report on debate techniques in the classroom from my own experiences with them.
During the first part of the semester, I employ a variety of methods for generating a foundation for debates. As the courses in which I have employed them so far have been ethics courses of one sort or another, I usually spend the first part of the semester discussing the various ethical theories which are common employed in justifying actions and policies in the particular topical areas we will be addressing. These are covered at times through group discussions, at times through lectures, and at times with visitors who provide concrete case study illustrations of the theories in question in operation. Often I have students write brief papers, articulating the essentials of an ethical theory and applying them to the task of evaluating a case study.
Approximately one-third to midway in the semester I start debates. Class members are assigned to debate teams on the basis of an initial attitude survey of each student's stance on a particular debate question. The principles of assignment are, (1.) when possible, to assign a student to debate a topic about which she or he expressed strong interest (indicated by first inviting students to eliminate topics which they had a strong preference not to debate, and then rank ordering the remainder); and, (2). when possible, to assign a student to debate the opposite position to his or her stance as indicated on the survey.
The rationale for the first principle is to enable the student to avoid debating a topic (such as abortion or euthanasia) about which she or he had such strong feelings as to interfere with the effort (thus, a student who had had an abortion, or a student whose family had "pulled the plug" on one of its members, would not inadvertently be assigned to debate on that topic). The rationale for the second principle is complex: to place the student in a win-win situation, so that either the student's team would win the debate, or the student's viewpoint would be vindicated by the debate; to force the student to prepare more carefully on the assumption that the opposite stance would not be as familiar; and to build tolerance for viewpoints contrary to those of the student, as a way of achieving a greater commitment to the value of mutually respectful exchanges of differences over hostile ones.
A typical attitude survey taken from a bioethics course is appended at the end of this report.
The debate format provides for a period of time for an opening statement by each team immediately followed by cross-examination by the other team; these four parts are then followed by a period for each team to engage in refutations, and these by brief opportunities for closing statements. The formal debate is then followed by time for the class to cross-examine each side; this is followed by opportunity for appraisive evaluations and suggestions for improvement. The class then is polled to see whether members judged one or the other side to have won, or the debate to have been a draw.
Students are informed of this structure with a handout, a copy of which follows this report.
Evaluation of class debates is a meld of individual and team grade. The team grade is given on the overall features of the defense of the position: completeness, accuracy, hand-outs or overheads, how well weaknesses in the other side's presentation were anticipated or identified, how well the team dealt with objections to its position. Individual grades are assigned based on how well the individual handled her or his portion of the team effort, as well as personal characteristics such as presence, eye contact, how well practiced was the delivery, and degree of ego-involvement. Students on a team are given group letter grades, backed with a common written summary in which the over-all line of argument is evaluated; each student has appended to her copy of the group evaluation a personal, private evaluation and letter grade; the average of the two grades is then recorded as the student's grade for the exercise. Debates typically count 15-20% of the semester grade, depending on the number of debates participated in by each student.
The results have been startling. First, post-tests based on debate content show students retain information presented in organized debate form much better than they do for tests after lectures and discussions. This increase in mastery occurs not only on the part of the debaters, but also on the part of the audience. My speculation is that students listen more critically, and hence more actively, to two-sided presentations by teams of peers than to presentations of two sides by a single individual perceived as an authority, and that the organization reflected in discrete 10-15 minute presentations by a team, interspersed with clarifying cross-examinations and rebuttals, tends to create blocks of information more readily remembered than the somewhat disorganized patterns observed in period-long discussions (or, to be self-critical, occasionally in lectures).
Second, students who formerly have lacked the self-confidence to jump into a discussion discover through participating in a debate that, with preparation, they are able to hold their own in verbal give-and-take. A number of students who have been either silent or whose participation could be elicited only with great effort become spontaneous in periods of general cross-examination.
Third, I find that in-class evaluations by the class in the earlier debates help improve form and content in later ones, even if my TA or I do not meet with teams in advance.
Fourth, I have been struck on a number of occasions by the inventiveness of students. Something of a theatrical element inserts itself into the later debates. Students will often come dressed (for them) formally when they debate. On one occasion, sound effects in the form of a hummed "Battle Hymn of the Republic" formed the background for a rousing summary statement; on another occasion, one team showed up dressed in nightgowns, housecoats and slippers to debate the con side of gay marriages. Students correctly perceive that a message's effectiveness is often a function of appealing elements having little to do with argument cogency, and they will, if left to their own devices, employ imagery and techniques which then provide occasion for discussion of the effectiveness of the symbolic power of imagery in public disputes.
I have employed the debate technique in several undergraduate courses since the spring of 1990, with consistent success. My finding seem to be borne out as general effects, although I must admit my measures have been subjective impressions of myself and my TAs, and are confounded by other factors such as subject matter adaptation that naturally proceeds through the semester, practice effects from writing previous exams, and movement from earlier theoretical material to more concrete, applied material later in the semester. It has been particularly interesting to follow the development of a few students who have taken more than one course from me, employing the knowledge gained in their first course and exposure to debate to bring leadership to other neophytes in the second course taken by those few. With more mature upperclassmen, visual aids tend to be less theatrical. Thus, students frequently produced their own overhead transparencies, or hung posters (often acquired from special interest groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Again, these actions would occasion reflection by classmates on the effectiveness of techniques of propaganda, as well as argumentation techniques generally employing visual aids.
Graduate students who have been my TAs have taken the debate techniques into their own teaching experiences, with generally good results. A number of faculty members in philosophy and psychology, and some teaching the World Civilizations course, have started using the technique, and generally report enthusiasm about the level of interest generated. The technique, of course, is ideally suited for use in a course in which there are controversies, and some may think that factual courses are less well suited to debate styles than courses involving issues of values and ethics. However, ethics and values are present in virtually every discipline, and even factual questions become matters of controversy under conditions of ambiguity or difficulty in gaining data that resolve questions. Even in the design of experiments, genuine differences will emerge concerning how most effectively to answer scientific issues.
So far, I have not gathered reports of increased levels of student mastery of material presented in debates over that presented in lectures and readings. It may be that this effect is peculiar to philosophy or even to me -- an unflattering possibility that I shall not dwell upon further!
METHODS OF INQUIRY
The problem of student preparation for university study has been of concern to me for a number of years. About 5 years ago, Susan Schapiro recruited me to lecture in the Methods of Inquiry course, UE 155, off load. This course employs an integrated system of reading, note taking, mapping information, generating questions, and self-evaluation of comprehension. I have been involved in the course as the regular faculty member for sections in four semesters; in addition, I have guest lectured both during those semesters and other semesters in anywhere from one to three sections. The data on the course have been impressive, and I have gained great satisfaction both from seeing transformations in student attitudes it has worked as well as knowing that the department has derived a line of graduate student support for my efforts.
In many ways, being nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award is an odd experience. I regard myself much more as a facilitator of learning by students than a teacher of them, chiefly because I think of learning as an action much more than as a reception. It has taken many years to develop a classroom style with which I am reflectively comfortable, and I still catch myself sliding into pedantic ways from time to time. Observing my faculty and graduate student colleagues in their classes, the bulletins of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness, as well as faculty workshops on teaching, have all been of great help in developing whatever there is about my "teaching" that is worthy of consideration for such an award.
Yes No UnsureWilling Not
- Is There a Moral Right to Abortion?
- Should Women be Allowed to Bear Babies for a Fee?
- Can Compelled Medical Treatment of Pregnant Women Be Justified?
- Is it Ethical to Withhold the Truth from Dying Patients?
- Are There Limits to Confidentiality?
- Is Physician-Assisted Suicide Ethical?
- Is it Ever Moral to Withhold Food and Water From Dying Patients?
- Can Deception in Research Be Justified?
- Should Animal Experimentation be Permitted?
- Is it Ethical to Implant Animal Hearts in Humans?
- Should Organ Procurement Be Based On Voluntarism?
- May Newborns Without Brains Be Used As Organ Donors?
- Should There Be a Market in Body Parts?
- Should Health Care for the Elderly Be Limited?
- Should Dying Patients Have Greater Access to Experimental Drugs?
- Should the United States Follow the Canadian Model of a National Health Program?
FOR EACH QUESTION, THE STARTING TEAM WILL BE DETERMINED BY A FLIP OF THE COIN AT THE TIME OF THE DEBATE. ALL TIME PERIODS WILL BE ENFORCED.
TEAM ONE: INITIAL PRESENTATION FOR 15 MINUTES, DIVIDED BY THE TEAM. PROBABLY EACH MEMBER'S PRESENTATION WILL TEND TOWARDS @ 3 MINUTES, ALTHOUGH THE TEAM MAY DECIDE TO SPEND SOMEWHAT MORE ON ONE PRESENTATION AT THE EXPENSE OF ONE OR MORE OTHERS.
CROSS EXAMINATION: 6 MINUTES. EACH CROSS-EXAMINER WILL HAVE 2-3 MINUTES TO CHALLENGE REMARKS MADE BY ANY MEMBER OF THE TEAM. CROSS-EXAMINERS MAY, BUT NEED NOT, ENGAGE IN DIALOG WITH TEAM MEMBERS.
TEAM TWO: INITIAL PRESENTATION FOR 15 MINUTES, DIVIDED BY THE TEAM. THE SAME REMARKS AS FOR TEAM ONE HOLD.
CROSS EXAMINATION: 6 MINUTES. DITTO AS ABOVE.
TEAM ONE: REBUTTAL FOR 5 MINUTES. DURING THIS TIME ONE OR MORE MEMBERS OF THE TEAM MAY REBUT CLAIMS AND ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE OTHER TEAM OR BY THE CROSS EXAMINERS.
TEAM TWO: REBUTTAL FOR 5 MINUTES. DITTO AS ABOVE.
OPEN FLOOR: 10 MINUTES. MEMBERS OF THE CLASS MAY DIRECT QUESTIONS OR REMARKS TO MEMBERS OF EITHER TEAM.
EVALUATION: 8 MINUTES. MEMBERS OF THE CLASS TELL EACH TEAM WHAT WAS, WAS NOT EFFECTIVE IN THEIR PRESENTATION, MAKE SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT.
VOTE BY CLASS AS TO WHO WON THE DEBATE.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR ORGANIZING AND CONDUCTING YOUR TEAM'S DEBATE. THE INITIAL REMARKS ARE DIRECTED TOWARDS PRO/CON TEAMS; CROSS-EXAMINING TEAMS WILL HAVE SOME SUGGESTIONS BELOW.
BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE, MEET AND SELECT AN ORGANIZER. THIS PERSON SHOULD HAVE EVERYONE'S TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THIS PERSON'S. HE OR SHE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR NOTIFYING THE GROUP ABOUT MEETINGS, COMMUNICATING ASSIGNMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS WITH PERSONS WHO MISS MEETINGS, ETC. BE SURE TO TELL THE INSTRUCTOR OR ONE OR THE OTHER T.A. WHO YOUR GROUP'S ORGANIZER IS. THE ORGANIZER SHOULD ALSO HAVE THE NAMES AND NUMBERS OF THE CROSS-EXAMINERS.
FIRST, BE SURE ALL MEMBERS OF THE TEAM HAVE READ THE ASSIGNED MATERIAL FOR THE DEBATE, FOUND IN THE COURSE TEXTS. THIS WILL FORM THE CORE BASIS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.
SECOND, MEET AND DISCUSS WHAT THE MAJOR AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT OR CONTENTION ARE, AS YOU FIND THEM IN THE READINGS.
THIRD, DECIDE HOW YOUR 15 MINUTES WILL BE DIVIDED. WILL YOU EACH TAKE AN EQUAL PORTION OF TIME? WILL YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES BE DIVIDED ALONG THE QUESTIONS OR ISSUES FOR THE TOPIC, OR, WILL ONE OF YOU COVER THE BIOMEDICAL, ONE THE LEGAL, ONE THE SOCIAL/POLITICAL, AND ONE OR TWO THE ETHICAL ARGUMENTS?
FOURTH, DECIDE WHAT ADDITIONAL REFERENCE MATERIAL YOU WILL WANT TO SEARCH FOR, AND DECIDE WHETHER TO SEARCH FOR IT INDIVIDUALLY OR COLLECTIVELY. YOU MAY WISH, AT THIS POINT, TO SCHEDULE A GROUP MEETING WITH THE INSTRUCTOR OR A T.A. TO DISCUSS RESOURCES. IT IS ALSO APPROPRIATE TO NOTIFY THE CROSS-EXAMINERS OF SUCH A MEETING SO THEY CAN ATTEND TOO.
FIFTH, EACH PREPARE AND TIME YOUR PRESENTATION. WE SUGGEST THAT YOU WRITE OUT VERBATIM WHAT YOU INTEND TO SAY, THEN, PRACTICE READING IT UNTIL YOU CAN DELIVER IT SMOOTHLY, WITH GOOD EYE CONTACT WITH THE AUDIENCE, WITHIN THE TIME ALLOWED. IF YOU GO OVER THE ALLOTTED TIME IN YOUR PRESENTATION, YOU MAY CAUSE YOUR TEAMMATE TO HAVE INSUFFICIENT TIME FOR HIS OR HER PRESENTATION.
SIXTH, SCHEDULE A DRESS REHEARSAL AND INVITE THE CROSS-EXAMINERS TO ATTEND IT. THE CROSS-EXAMINERS SHOULD NOT BE GIVING YOU INPUT AT THIS TIME, BUT SHOULD HAVE A GOOD IDEA ABOUT WHAT YOUR ARGUMENTATION IS GOING TO BE, SO THAT THEY CAN PREPARE THEIR CROSS-EXAMINATION.
SEVENTH, MEET AS A GROUP AND HAVE A DRESS REHEARSAL OF YOUR PRESENTATIONS. CRITIQUE EACH OTHER, WITH SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING BOTH ARGUMENT AND DELIVERY.
EIGHTH, DISCUSS WHAT YOU THINK WILL BE THE ARGUMENTS PRESENTED BY THE OPPOSITION. PREPARE SOME CRITICAL RESPONSES TO THOSE ARGUMENTS, AND GENERALLY FAMILIARIZE YOURSELVES WITH WHAT THE OPPOSITION IS LIKELY TO SAY. WHILE YOU WILL NOT BE CONDUCTING CROSS-EXAMINATION, YOU WILL BE RESPONDING IN THE REBUTTAL PART OF THE DEBATE TO THEIR POINTS.
CROSS-EXAMINERS: BE SURE THAT BOTH THE ORGANIZERS FOR EACH SIDE OF THE DEBATE TEAMS IN WHICH YOU WILL BE CROSS-EXAMINING HAS YOUR NAME AND NUMBER, AND YOU THEIRS. YOU SHOULD KEEP BADGERING THEM TO LET YOU ATTEND THEIR REHEARSALS, SO THAT YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO ARGUE. IF YOU SENSE THAT YOU ARE GETTING THE BRUSH-OFF, COMPLAIN TO THE INSTRUCTOR OR ONE OR THE OTHER T.A. AND WE'LL GET ON THEIR CASE.
YOUR JOB IS TO FIND WEAKNESS IN THE ARGUMENTS GIVEN IN THE FORMAL DEBATE, TO POINT THEM OUT IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS OR BRIEF COMMENTS, AND THEN TO ALLOW A BRIEF RESPONSE BEFORE GOING ON TO YOUR NEXT COMMENT. THE TEAMS WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND AT GREATER LENGTH DURING REBUTTAL.
THERE WILL BE TWO OR THREE OF YOU ON THE CROSS-EXAMINING TEAM FOR EACH DEBATE. YOU SHOULD MEET AND PLAN HOW YOU WILL "INFILTRATE" THE TWO OTHER TEAMS AND WHETHER YOU WILL ALL GO TO THEIR REHEARSALS OR DIVIDE THE TASK UP. AS YOU GET CLOSE TO DEBATE TIME, YOU SHOULD MEET TO DISCUSS HOW YOU WILL CONDUCT THE CROSS-EXAMINATION. YOU WILL HAVE UP TO 6 MINUTES FOR CROSS-EXAMINATION OF EACH TEAM.
PREPARING FOR CROSS-EXAMINATION MAY INVOLVE YOU IN READING MUCH OF WHAT EACH TEAM IS READING. YOUR PREPARATION SHOULD BE AS CAREFUL, AND AS WELL REHEARSED, AS THEIRS.