Teach the Earth > Teaching Methods > Structured Academic Controversy
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This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

group work

Developed by Claudia Khourey-Bowers, Kent State University



What is Structured Academic Controversy?

A Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) is a type of cooperative learning strategy in which small teams of students learn about a controversial issue from multiple perspectives. The structured academic controversy technique is designed to engage students in controversy and then guide them to seek consensus. What is Structured Academic Controversy? (in-depth description)


Why Teach with Structured Academic Controversy?

Students learn to apply decision-making and problem-solving skills when discussing topics of importance to them. Unlike debates, which typically force a decision between two ideas that may or may not be mutually exclusive, SACs encourage students to think about the complexities and ambiguities that often characterize controversial issues. SACs can help students change their perspectives and enhance content knowledge. Why Teach with Structured Academic Controversy? (research findings and anecdotes)


How to Teach with Structured Academic Controversy

SACs can be used to address issues that strike sensitivities among your students and within the discipline. The actual format of the SAC should depend on the time you want to spend, the motivation of your students, and your instructional goals. Depending on the selected format, students are assigned one or two specific positions to research. How to Teach with Structured Academic Controversy (etiquette, protocol, and resources)


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